Interview with Padres prospect Mike Baxter

Fort Wayne, IN- senior writer John Conniff sat down with Mike Baxter, the Padres fourth round draft pick out of Vanderbilt, during his recent trip to the Midwest. The Padres, incidentally, assigned Baxter to Fort Wayne straight out of college.

Mike Baxter: is originally from Queens, New York, and prepped at Archbishop Molloy, one of the more dominant high schools in New York City for basketball and baseball. After a year at Columbia University, where he earned second team All-Ivy League, Baxter transferred to Vanderbilt University where he .374, with a 1.075 OPS before agreeing to terms with the Padres.

John Conniff: This past year we read about how as part of Cesar Carillo's contract, he started off his professional career at Lake Elsinore. Most of the Padres' draft picks start the season at either Peoria in the Arizona League or at Eugene in the Northwest League. Was being sent to Fort Wayne part of your contract?

Mike Baxter: I didn't ask to be sent to Fort Wayne, but by the time the contract was done mid-July they decided they needed a change at first base in Fort Wayne. They asked how I would feel about coming here, naturally, I wouldn't turn that down.

John Conniff: There were reports coming out that the reason the negotiations took so long was that you were demanding that the Padres guarantee that you only play first base. Can you play other positions?

Mike Baxter: Those reports were completely false, they were 100-percent false. I was sitting in Cape Cod and somebody sent me the article that Mike Baxter is hesitant to play outfield. That is silly.

I don't how long the future holds at first base. I'll probably end up in the outfield which is fine. As far as other positions are concerned, I can play third base, and in a real bind I can play second base, a real bind. I got thirty games in the outfield under my belt last summer in the Cape Cod League, the first thirty of my life. That is something that I have a lot of work to do.

John Conniff: How difficult was it to catch up with a team in the middle of the season?

Mike Baxter: That was one of my concerns coming out, the boys had been together since March and April, but that wasn't a problem as soon as I got here. Everybody was real welcoming, I just kind of fell into a spot. You get over that worry real quick once you meet everyone.

John Conniff: What was it like facing Kerry Woods the other day?

Mike Baxter: It was exciting. I was on deck, hoping Laudy (Matt Lauderdale) was going to get a hit, because I wanted to take a crack at him. I'll take the strikeout. Seriously, it was a good experience. You get a glimpse of what is out there and where the bar is at.

I was excited I got the opportunity. I didn't succeed as a I wanted too, but it was fun.

John Conniff: In the past few games I've noticed you really seem to make hard contact with each at bat. Is there any type of approach you try to take for every at-bat?

Mike Baxter: It varies as the game goes on, you have to try to get an idea of how they are pitching to you. I think that is one of the big differences between college and the pros, just the strategy from the pitchers.

John Conniff: Did you have any troubles adjusting to the wooden bat from the aluminum bats at the college level?

Mike Baxter: Of course, it takes time. In college everyone has a tendency to get a little long with your swing because you can get away with it. I definitely think the first couple weeks takes some time just to shorten up your swing.

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