PEORIA, Ariz. -- Apparently, minicamp isn't reserved for professional football players. On Saturday, the Padres will hold their first minicamp for a group of 28 Minor League players at the Peoria Sports Complex. The camp will run until March 13. The minicamp replaces the hitters-only camp the team ran in the past under former vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson.
Randy Smith, the Padres' director of player development, expanded the former program to include pitchers and catchers, who will get a jump on the rest of their peers with 15 days of drills under the watchful eyes of Minor League coaches and instructors. The players who are invited include prospects like infielders Drew Cumberland, Allan Dykstra and Edinson Rincon, pitchers Dexter Carter, James Needy, Adys Portillo and Keyvius Sampson and outfielders Kellen Kulbacki, Donavan Tate and Everett Williams. Tate was the third-overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. He received a club-record $6.25 million signing bonus. Tate suffered a broken jaw in an ATV accident in December but will be ready to report to the minicamp Friday with the first workout set for the following day. Tate has yet to make his professional debut. Williams, the 52nd overall pick in the 2009 Draft, is a player the Padres really like as well. Sampson (fourth round) and Needy (sixth round) are also two players who also excite the Padres. "We're running an accelerated program for guys who are entering their first full season or who are jumping a league," Smith said. "It's similar to [fall] instructional league. But it's in the spring where guys are fresh, and what you teach them, they can carry into the year." Smith said the origin of such a program dates back to the late 1980s when Tom Romenesko was the Padres' farm director and Smith was the scouting director. The goal is simple: to get players a head start with thorough instruction. "It's getting these guys off to a good start, to give them a little head start," said Smith, who had success with a similar program during his five years as the general manager in Detroit (1996-02). The camp will be run by new Minor League field director Randy Johnson and his staff of roving instructors, including hitting coordinator Tony Muster and pitching coordinator Mike Couchee, as well as the coaching staff for Class A Fort Wayne. The player-to-instructor ratio will be 8 to 28. "We're making subtle adjustments here to building the program, with the emphasis being on baserunning, defense, fundamentals are emphasized and getting the pitchers and the hitters ready," Smith said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.