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Padres Make Major Scouting, Player Development Changes As Season Falters

SAN DIEGO—As the Padres’ postseason hopes dwindle, the organization is making major changes to their scouting and player development departments.

Padres scouting director Mark Conner was reassigned to another position in the organization on Wednesday, two days after farm director Sam Geaney was informed his contract would not be renewed.

Chris Kemp, the Padres international scouting director and minor league field coordinator, will add amateur scouting director to his duties as Conner’s replacement. Ryley Westman, who previously served as Geaney’s No. 2 running the farm system, will be the new farm director.

The moves are the latest in a tumultuous stretch for the Padres. In the last 36 days, Triple-A manager Edwin Rodriguez resigned, pitching coach Larry Rothschild was fired and now the scouting and farm directors have both been replaced.

The changes have come with the Padres mired in a 10-26 slide since Aug. 11, the worst record in the National League in that time. They suffered their fifth straight loss in an 8-6 defeat to the Giants on Wednesday and have fallen six games back of the NL’s second wild card spot with 11 games remaining.

The Padres expected to contend for the World Series after a flurry of offseason moves by general manager A.J. Preller and held a wild card spot as recently as two weeks ago, but injuries to the starting rotation and a failure to acquire additional starters at the trade deadline left the team critically short of pitching down the stretch.

The Padres have a 5.38 ERA since Aug. 11, fourth-worst in the majors, and have taken to signing recently-released players like Vince Velasquez and Jake Arrieta to fill out the rotation. (Arrieta was designated for assignment Wednesday after posting a 10.95 ERA in four starts).

Conner joined the Padres as an amateur scout in 2010 and was promoted to scouting director by Preller after the 2014 season. He oversaw the drafting of 18 players who have reached the majors so far, including starting pitchers Cal Quantrill and Eric Lauer and infielder Ty France. Conner also drafted six players currently ranked in the BA Top 100: infielder CJ Abrams (No. 6), catcher Luis Campusano (No. 32), outfielder Robert Hassell (No. 33), infielder Xavier Edwards (No. 79), lefthander MacKenzie Gore (No. 84) and righthander Matt Brash (No. 99). He will remain in the organization as a special assistant to the GM.

Geaney was hired by Preller after the 2014 season and oversaw the development of a farm system that ranked No. 1 in BA’s organization talent rankings in 2019. The Padres system that year included Quantrill, Lauer, France, Fernando Tatis Jr., Chris Paddack, Franmil Reyes, Luis Urias, Luis Patiño, Josh Naylor and others who have gone on to establish regular roles in the majors, albeit mostly for other teams.

All but Tatis and Paddack were traded as the Padres dealt 42 prospects or recent prospect graduates in an 16-month span from Nov. 2019-Feb. 2021. Overall, the Padres have traded 17 of their Top 30 prospects from that 2019 farm system.

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