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Padres Social Summit 2016, Part 1: Talking with Mike Janela, Andy Green, and Don Welke

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The first #SDSocialSummit of 2016 started off with some Q&A.

Yesterday the Padres hosted yet another Social Summit, inviting fans who are active on social media to come down to the ballpark for a few hours of interaction and fun with some members of the Padres organization. In the past we've talked to front office members, players, coaches, broadcasters, and scouts; we've taken tours around various areas of the ballpark, had brainstorming/crowdsourcing sessions, and done a variety of other activities. But each Social Summit has been different from the last, and yesterday's was no exception.

The event was set to start at 9am and last through most of FanFest, which I was totally okay with considering this year's FanFest was barely a shell of years prior. I had originally planned on skipping FanFest altogether, but when I saw the Padres were hosting another Social Summit I swiftly applied to attend on Twitter and was pleased to get my invitation the next day. We were told to meet at the Gaslamp Gate of Petco Park no later than 9:15 am on Saturday and that breakfast would be provided for us.

So we got down to the ballpark and were greeted by Nicky Patriarca, the Padres' Director of Content for the past three years, and Maddie Gritsch, the Padres' new Social Media Manager. They checked us in and gave each of us a Padres drawstring backpack (All Star Game colors), a pair of white and neon yellow Padres sunglasses, a Padres ticket holder/lanyard, and a ticket to that afternoon's Spring Training game against the White Sox. After a big group of us had showed up, Nicky escorted us inside the ballpark and up an elevator to the Ballast Point Beer Garden, where much of the event would take place.

Breakfast consisted of coffee and assorted muffins and danishes. When we went to get some coffee, the dispenser was empty, which bummed me out. But later they refilled it, which made me happy.

After the rest of the group arrived, Padres Social Hour host Mike Janela came over and addressed us to open things up. I couldn't hear a word he said because there was a ton of noise surrounding us at the beer garden and emanating from the FanFest crowds that had begun to enter the ballpark. But he looked like he was saying some nice things.

After Janela, Padres skipper Andy Green came out to greet us and answer some questions from the crowd. Again, I had a really hard time hearing anything he said. I do know that he announced Travis Jankowski would make the Opening Day roster, and from the bits and pieces I could make out I could really see why he's come off so positively amongst the media and those who have interacted with him so far. He seems like a very charismatic and knowledgable leader who has a good vision for the team, and I'm excited to see how his first year pans out.

We were told that "Coach" Don Welke, the Padres' Vice President of Scouting Operations, was going to be our next guest. I was very excited about this. Welke has been a guest at almost every Social Summit and each time he captivates and entertains the crowd. I don't know exactly what it is about him, but he's just so lovable and he has such a wealth of knowledge about baseball. It's always a treat to hear him speak.

When asked about the Padres preferences in drafting college vs. high school players, Welke responded that it didn't matter if the player is coming out of high school or is more experienced with a college background. The Padres just want the guy with the highest ceiling and someone who could be a franchise player. When asked about analytics and advanced metrics, and how much of that goes into the Padres' scouting strategy, he expressed that they did play a part in the scouting process, but not a major part.

A funny moment during Welke's Q&A was when he addressed the crowd. He knew that we were made up of some of the more active fans on social media, and he told us he wasn't really into that kind of stuff, joking that he had just finally learned how to turn on his cell phone and then cracking everyone up with the following quote:

Sadly, Coach Welke's time with us had to come to an end at some point. And that was when Wayne Partello, the Padres' Chief Marketing Officer, came out to thank Welke and to introduce the next activity of the Social Summit. He would take us on a ballpark tour to get a closer look at some of the new changes around Petco Park, which I'll recap in my next post.