SAN DIEGO — “You ask anyone, and they’d like to have as many picks as they can high. We’re the same way,” said Jaron Madison, director of scouting for the Padres.
Picks in the upcoming June draft, what Madison refers to as the “World Series” for scouts, is exactly what he wants.
He knows the Padres aren’t in the position to be adding big name free agents year-in, year-out, he said. “So our philosophy is, we have to spend a lot of time drafting and developing our own players, so we can have impact players in our organization and build the pipeline, so when one of our players may become too expensive, or out-price themselves in our market, we have guys in line to step in and take the place.”
The term, “building from within” may scare a lot of baseball fans when they hear that applied to their team. But for Madison that’s huge, he said. “That’s what we’re geared towards. We understand the value of our scouting department and the jobs that we do…everyone takes great responsibility and accountability to that fact that, our success, the success of the organization, all relies on the work that we do, getting to know the players on and off the field,” he added.
They are building a team that fits playing in Petco Park, a field that is often referred to as “spacious.” And Madison said they’re doing that with guys who can hit and defend. “We are going to win most of our games based on pitching and defense,” Madison said. “So, finding guys that are versatile, that can take advantage of the spaciousness of the outfield, who can not only hit for power, but hit line drives and turn singles into doubles and triples, steal bases and create runs for ourselves.”
Madison began his foray into scouting after spending a year coaching at Long Beach State University while earning his masters. From his time there, he met scouts and got to know them, including Deron Johnson, now scouting director for the Minnesota Twins, and who had introduced him to Bill “Chief” Gayton, then a scout with the San Diego Padres.
Madison and Gayton shared informal talks and days later, Gayton called him up out of the blue and asked him to interview for a job. Madison got the job, working as an associate scout for Chris Gwynn and Jason McLeod.
“It was kind of a chance meeting with Deron introducing me to ‘Chief.’ We hit it off and we’ve been great friends since then,” Madison said.
Madison spent several seasons working with the Padres in a scouting capacity before joining the St. Louis Cardinals in a similar role. After two seasons with the Cardinals, Madison returned to the Padres in 2009 where he would become director of scouting the following year.
As director, Madison oversees a scouting crew of about 30, all preparing for their World Series — the June draft, and seeking out that next great player that can help the team and implement the organization’s baseball philosophy.
“We pretty much spend the whole year getting ready, identifying players for the next coming season, and starting to get to know them and building relationships,” Madison said.
As for building new relationships within the organization, Madison and new Padres General Manager Josh Byrnes already have a good working relationship and strong communications regarding the Padres’ baseball philosophy. Byrnes had joined the Padres in 2010 as senior vice president of baseball operations and became GM after then-General Manager Jed Hoyer and assistant General Manager Jason McLeod left to join the Chicago Cubs earlier this year.
“I was fortunate to work with (Byrnes) last year,” Madison said. “He helped us out a lot last year with the amateur draft…and was heavily involved with the selection of a lot of the guys we took high in last year’s draft.
“(Byrnes’) outlook on scouting was pretty similar to what Jed (Hoyer) and Jason (McLeod) brought over from Boston and what we’ve been doing for the past two years. So, there might be a few little tweaks to how we do things, but for the most part, his philosophy has been in line with what we’ve been doing and the information we’ve been gathering. So it’s been a pretty seamless process,” Madison said.
When he’s watching a game, it’s safe to say he’s missed all of the stuff that the fans come to a baseball game to watch.
“It’s actually funny, I’ll go to games and we’re so focused on watching one or two or a handful of players at the game, and really focusing on what they’re doing, that we actually miss a lot of the things that fans are there for,” he said.
“You do miss a lot of the other things that are going on in the game, but my job is to focus and find out what that one player can do,” Madison added.
“We have drafted some guys who’ve moved quick like Josh Spence and Jedd Gyorko’s knocking on the door. He’s in a position where he should see the big league roster at some point next year if everything goes well with his health and his performance,” Madison said.
“Padres fans have a lot to look forward to and to be excited about and we’re going to continue to try to bring those kinds of guys into the system.”