05/05/11 8:04 PM ET
Hinch making impact on Padres' pro scouting
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
"When I got here in September, [general manager Jed Hoyer] made it perfectly clear that he really wanted to improve our pro scouting coverage and staff, and just our overall ability to get information in the industry," Hinch said.
"Before we weren't able to cover every league."
With eight new hires since Hinch took over the department in September, coverage is not a problem. If there's a Minor League game going on somewhere -- Tacoma, Toledo, Tampa, and points in-between -- there's a good chance the Padres are or were there.
"It's managing a lot of information, staying on top of other team's prospect lists," Hinch said. "We are making sure we're speaking the same language. Our job is to supply Jed with the most up-to-date information.
"The beauty of the job is you never know when this information will be needed."
Case in point: Late in Spring Training, the Padres claimed relief pitcher Pat Neshek off waivers from the Twins. Scout Mike Venafro had watched Neshek in Florida on several occasions and was able to provide a report and a recommendation.
Not long thereafter, the Padres made a trade with the Nationals to get infielder Alberto Gonzalez. Scout Van Smith had been watching Gonzalez for several weeks during Grapefruit League play and was able to supply Hinch and Hoyer the information they needed.
"It's been exactly what I expected. He's taken ownership of that department," Hoyer said. "I told him we need to expand this department. He's really going to change the direction of that department. It will only improve."
Among the new faces in the pro scouting department are probably a few familiar faces for Padres fans -- Scott Bream (a former Padres Minor League infielder), Kevin Jarvis (a Padres pitcher from 2001-03), Venafro (who pitched seven seasons in the Major Leagues) and Jeffrey Hammonds (an outfielder who played 13 big league seasons).
Hinch also retained scouts Joe Bochy -- who signed pitcher Mat Latos -- Smith and former Padres outfielder John Vander Wal. Ray Crone, Al Hargesheimer and Gregg Olson also returned.
Other new scouts in the department -- which is separate from amateur scouting -- are Jim Elliott, who has extensive experience with the Major League scouting bureau, Chuck McMichael, a former scouting director for the Rangers, Chris Young, a former Minor League pitcher and Carmen Fusco, who previously worked for the Mariners.
"The guys that have been here are quality people, quality scouts who have embraced the change and additions," Hinch said. "I was fortunate to inherit Bochy, Smith and Vandy ... guys who have been pounding the pavement that last couple of years."
By more than doubling the staff he inherited, Hinch said the organization is able to have reports on just about everyone they need to see, so Hoyer and his staff can make qualified assessments on players who become available in trades, or simply guys who float across the waiver wire and might be a fit for the team.
"Before we just weren't able to cover every league," Hinch said. "We only had one guy in the big leagues and three or four in the Minor Leagues covering four affiliates and the other 120 teams.
"That's too much to ask to ensure the quality of information you want and need. Now we will have every player covered. A bigger staff allows for more accuracy and allows for a little easier travel."
Life is much different for Hinch now than it was a year ago, when he was manager of the D-backs -- who start a three-game series Friday at PETCO Park against the Padres. Hinch was dismissed as manager on July 2, but he landed with the Padres two months later.
"I'm thrilled with the changes," Hinch said. "We've been able to grow it at a rapid pace, retain the people who were here and add to the staff. There's a flurry of reports coming in every morning. I'm having a good time."
Hammonds said that he's relied on and learned a lot from conversations with Hinch in his first month on the job.
"He has a very good baseball mind," said Hammonds, who has been paired with Venafro and Bochy in Florida. "He has been very accessible. Starting a new job, I have questions to make sure I'm on the right path, and he's been very forthright and helpful for me.
"He's got a very knowledgeable staff. He's got a good core group."