Padres Minor Leaguers Benefit From Winter Program

SAN DIEGO — From administrators, to the manager, coaches and instructors, to the players, all deemed the late January winter program—that saw 19 prospects spend 10 days in San Diego for intense individual training as well as seminars—an enormous success.

"I don't know if it could have gone better," said Mike Couchee, the Padres minor league pitching coordinator. "We had most of best guys in town, players the organization feels are closest to the big leagues. And it was great.

"The on-field stuff was really good, but the players got to hear from Hall of Famers like Dave Winfield and Tony Gwynn. They got to talk to Buddy Black and his coaches. They got to see how the ball plays in Petco Park, they got to see San Diego and live like big leaguers."

Righthander Simon Castro, one of the organization's top pitching prospects, was impressed with his time in San Diego.

"This was really good for everyone, I think," Castro said. "I learned a lot. This is really going to help me."

Black spent several days at Petco Park, watching the players. "These are most of our best guys, and I liked what I saw," Black said. "Anthony Rizzo (the slugging first baseman, who came to the Padres from Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez trade) has a nice swing. You have to keep reminding yourself he's only 21 years old."
As for the pitchers, Black liked righthander Casey Kelly (who was also acquired in the Gonzalez deal) and Castro.

"Kelly looks like a big league pitcher," Black said. "Castro is a long-legged, long-armed guy who has a chance to help us down the line."

Black said none of the 19 in the camp is expected to break with the big league club at the end of spring training.

"But I think you'll see a lot of these guys at some point in the future," Black said. "I really liked this idea. I enjoyed getting a chance to get a glimpse into the future."


• The Padres claimed righthander Samuel Deduno off waivers from the Rockies and added him to the 40-man roster. Infielder Oscar Salazar was designated for assignment to make room for Deduno.

• Lefthander Matt Riley, infielder David Newhan and outfielder Bobby Kielty, all of who have major league experience, were signed to minor league contracts.