"I think the workouts give you a chance to get some questions answered both on and off the field," said Chad MacDonald, the team's assistant general manager of player personnel. "You get a chance to talk more in a comfortable setting with the player and get to know them."
But there's more to it than that, MacDonald said.
The Padres, who have assembled their scouting department in San Diego for meetings that will lead up to the Draft, have tailored their workouts to not only get a look at players at their natural position but, occasionally, ask them to try a different position or show a different facet of their game.
"Maybe you try to see if the shortstop that doesn't have enough range can catch or maybe the second baseman with plus-plus speed, can he go out to the outfield?" MacDonald said. "You're able to do a lot of that."
The Padres have held five workouts in the last few weeks, all organized by their area scouts. There were workouts in Houston, Atlanta, Orlando, Cincinnati and, finally, San Diego. The workouts are attended by MacDonald, scouting director Billy Gasparino, national crosscheckers Sean Campbell, Kurt Kemp and the team's four regional crosscheckers.
"I think we do that more [ask players to move around] with the college guys more than high school guys. Maybe it's the college pitcher who doesn't have the velocity, you ask him to throw sidearm. If a guy is a dead-pull hitter, you ask him to hit the ball the other way. Or if he hits lines drives, ask him if in batting practice if he can put more loft on the ball," MacDonald said.
"You're not trying to change them but trying to see the things they can or can't do. I think all the kids who show up to the workouts are receptive to it. It's another chapter in their book, if you will."
Last year, during one pre-Draft workout, the Padres asked speedy outfielder Mallex Smith, a left fielder in junior college, to give center field a try.
"He was a guy we deemed as an 80 [on scouting scale] runner so it was good to see him take some fly balls in center field and also get to know him and his personality," MacDonald said.
The Padres selected Smith in the fifth round and he's currently hitting .301 with a .401 on-base percentage with 40 stolen bases in 51 games for Class A Fort Wayne of the Midwest League.