As you’ve probably read in a handful of other places (Prospect Insider, Lookout Landing, Larry Stone, Dan Hayes) Chris Gwynn, brother of the great Tony, is looking to be named the Mariners new Player Development Director. This role, from my understanding, was formerly that of held by Pedro Grifol. I really like Grifol and from my understanding he looks like he’ll be sliding in the coaching side of the house. Here’s to hoping he stays in the organization (which I believe he will).
But this isn’t really about Grifol, this is about Gwynn. It’s funny that this comes this week as I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the Padres system of late. It’s amazing how much it’s grown over the last few years and Gwynn, while hardly responsible, has certainly played role in that development as the Padres Director of Player Personnel, as well as an organizational scout.
Tom Krasovic over at Inside the Padres has an amazingly insightful piece on Gwynn and what he did for the Padres organization.
“As San Diego’s director of player personnel, Gwynn scouted players at all levels: some 90 players for the 2011 amateur draft, Padres minor leaguers, minor leaguers with other clubs, amateurs in the Dominican Republic and big leaguers here and in winter ball. For trade purposes, the Padres sometimes dispatched Gwynn to scout players.”
I strongly suggest you go and read the whole article.
One quick thought: 2009 with their early draft picks the Padres organization chosen to spend money on athletic high school players that also showed tools siding more on the high risk/reward and little to do with safer picks. This was prevalent in their 2009 draft (4 of their first 6 picks here high school kids) however they scaled that back in 2010 (4 of the first 8 picks were HS) as new GM Jey Hoyer hired Jaron Madison in place of Bill Gayton as the director of scouting. Madison worked both with Jason McLeod and Gwynn in 2010 and 2011 in scouting draft talent and conducting the first year draft. The reason I find these three years important is that it shows Gwynn has been a part of two different approaches to drafting talent and has been part of the turnaround in the farm system.
In 2009 it was commonly believe that the Padres had one of, if not the, worst farm systems in baseball. However, that sentiment has changed drastically and in a recent (10 OCT 11) Baseball America chat, Jim Callis had the following thought on the Padres
“The Padres system definitely is looking up. Many of their top prospects coming into the season had terrific years in the minors, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo, third baseman Jedd Gyorko and third baseman/outfielder James Darnell. Others took big steps forward, most notably outfielder Rymer Liriano and righthander Keyvious Sampson. San Diego also has added plenty of talent via the draft (starting with first-rounders Cory Spangenberg and Joe Ross), trades (getting lefty Robbie Erlin and righty Joe Wieland from the Rangers for Mike Adams) and the international market ($1.1 million for Venezuelan catcher Jose Ruiz).
The Padres have one of the better farm systems in baseball, and I expect their ranking to move up from No. 8. They had 18 different players make our various minor league Top 20 Prospects lists, tying the Rays for the most of any organization. “
Obviously there are some very good reasons for those thoughts as they have some great young talent and while Jed Hoyer, as well as Jason McLeod and even Jaron Madison should take the heap of the praise for the job well done, once again, it’s fair to say that Gwynn had his hand in it too.
Keeping Grifol in the organization while adding someone like Gwynn is a win-win scenario for the Mariners, and of course we don’t know how “good” Gwynn will be at this job, it’s obvious that Gwynn has been around some extremely intelligent baseball men over the past 25 years. This, maybe his first time taking over a farm system, but he’s seen how to manage one correctly and he’s be a part of successful front office process.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I like the move and see it as Jack Zduriencik surrounding himself with yet another smart person with a great background and experience. It’s nothing but a positive thing for the organization.