Friday, October 28, 2011

Chris Gwynn


The Padres have lost one of their top-level scouts, Chris Gwynn, who will become farm director of the Mariners. Dan Hayes of the North County Times first reported the story today. This blog spoke with Gwynn, who has a good reputation not only in San Diego but throughout the major leagues.

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.

Gwynn has wanted to run a department, and Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik is putting him in charge of Seattle's farm system.


The younger brother of Tony Gwynn and a former San Diego State outfielder drafted 10th overall by the Dodgers in 1985, Gwynn spent parts of 10 seasons with the Dodgers, Royals and Padres. His tie-breaking, two-run double at Dodger Stadium in the last game of the 1996 season led to the Padres' first National League West title since 1984.

As his playing career wound down, Gwynn decided he wanted to learn scouting and player development from the ground up.

He wasn't elated to return to bottom of a food chain, but his parents had taught him and his two brothers not to miss any steps when getting an education.

The Padres hired him as an area scout in 1998. He also managed a team of future prospects in Los Angeles.

"I started from the bottom," Gwynn said. "Not that I'm trying to pat myself on the back -- I enjoyed learning every bit of what I needed to learn. It was hard. I wouldn't change a thing."

In 2004, the Padres promoted Gwynn into a job as a national cross-checker of amateur players.

He interviewed in 2006 with the Diamondbacks for their director of scouting job, which went to Tommy Allison. At the time, Arizona's managing general partner was Jeff Moorad, who had represented Gwynn as a player. The general manager was Josh Byrnes, now San Diego's GM.

Kevin Towers expanded Gwynn's scouting role three years ago, after the Red Sox interviewed him for a job within their baseball operations department.

Today, Gwynn's departure comes a few days after GM Jed Hoyer and director of scouting and player development Jason McLeod accepted jobs with the Cubs. Gwynn, for his part, said he doubts the three departures portend upheaval within San Diego's scouting ranks.

He described Byrnes as "a smart guy," expressed gratitude for support from Moorad and assistant GM Fred Uhlman Jr., and said he expects the farm system to continue its rise.

In place, he said, is a talented, dedicated group of scouts. He considers Padres scouting director Jaron Madison one of baseball's bright young executives.

"Jaron did an outstanding job of hiring scouts," Gwynn said. "He's a good judge of talent and a great judge of character, and he works his ass off. A lot of people don't realize how good Jaron is.

"Scouts are treated well by the Padres," he said. "The scouts are ready to flourish. They already are flourishing. I think the Padres are in good shape."

With Seattle, Gwynn inherits a farm system thought to be on the rise.

"The Mariners have a middle-of-the-pack farm system, which is saying something considering that they promoted Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda to the majors this year," Jim Callis, the executive editor of Baseball America, told this blog. "The strength of their system is pitching, starting with Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton."

Time spent observing Padres farm director Randy Smith will pay off in his next job, Gwynn said.

Gwynn will also draw on lessons from his days as a minor leaguer with the Dodgers, who then were developing prospects such as Mike Scioscia, Steve Sax, Raul Mondesi, Mike Devereaux, Mike Marshall, Tim Crews and Henry Rodriguez.

"Coming up the Dodgers' system, I had to figure out how I can utilize my talents," he said. "Most everybody could play. I think it was the best thing ever coming up in that system at that time."

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