SAN DIEGO -- It was certainly an interesting season for Mike Cather as the first-year Minor League roving pitching coordinator for the Padres.
Cather, who is with the big league team this week, spent the previous two seasons as an advance scout for the Red Sox. He was more than pleased to be back in uniform this season -- even if it meant wearing a different one nearly every week.
"From an educational standpoint, this was a phenomenal experience," Cather said recently. "We had a lot of transactions, we had a lot of guys moving around and I know we had a lot of conversations. This was a challenge but it was a great experience. It was very rewarding."
Cather said he spent the majority of the season bouncing between the lower levels of the Padres' farm system -- short-season Eugene, the team in the Arizona League, as well as the two Class A affiliates in Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore.
"I would spend five days there to see all of the starters and six days if they had a six-man rotation. That would also allow me to see all of the relievers as well," Cather said.
Cather's trips, at least early on when he was still learning the pitchers in the system, had him making a lot of observations, ones he would share with the pitching coaches at each stop and not directly with the pitcher.
"The first half of the season was difficult for me. I feel like I like the bond I can make with a player ... you figure out what makes him tick," Cather said. "I wanted the pitching coaches to have that. The second or third time around, I had a feel for them, I felt like I could finally bridge that bond. I like being able to help and impact on an individual basis."
Cather saw each and every one of the top pitching prospects in the Padres' Minor League system and saw the development from Spring Training to where many of these pitchers were by the end of August.
"When I saw these guys in Spring Training, I was impressed by the overall stuff that the organization has. We've got a lot of big arms," Cather said. "Guys like Burch Smith. He really did a lot to develop from an execution standpoint. Matt Andriese did a great job. Matt Wisler stood out immensely.
"It's less numbers [statistics] for me but more of are we getting guys in the right direction? I guess the easiest way to say what my job entails is trying to put guys on the right track. From there, it's up to the pitching coaches to help them develop into the guys we project."