Q&A with Tony Campana

Tony Campana doesn't get a lot of prospect hype, but that's fine with the speedy, leadoff-hitting outfielder. What Campana does get is the attention of opposing teams and pitchers.

Campana was a 13th-round draft pick from the University of Cincinnati in 2008. After a solid season on the Class-A circuit between Peoria and Daytona in 2009, he spent all of 2010 at Double-A Tennessee, batting .319 in 131 games – the third best clip in the Cubs' system behind Smokies teammates Brandon Guyer and Robinson Chirinos.

On the bases, he has some of the best speed in the Cubs' system, having stolen 136 bases in 177 attempts -- including 48 a season ago -- since making his professional debut in the Arizona Rookie League in 2008.

When the 2010 season ended, Campana joined the Venezuela Winter League and batted .280 (14-for-50) in 22 games before returning to the States after suffering a hamstring injury. He rehabbed the injury at the Cubs' facilities in Mesa, Ariz., and returned to his native Ohio, where we caught up with him for an off-season Q&A session.

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Q: You had a great season last year and showed lots of consistency from start to finish. How do you go about improving on that?

A: There are still things that I can improve. I still swung and missed a little too many times. I struck out a little more than I wanted to and I think I could increase my walks so that my on-base percentage goes up. Hitting-wise, I'd like to be around the same numbers next year. My goal going into this past year was to hit .320 and I hit .319, so it was pretty close to what I wanted. Next year, I'll probably have the same goal and then try to get my walks up and my strikeouts down, and then get caught stealing a little less.

Q: You've had two pretty good seasons since you were drafted. Do good seasons create any added pressure to follow them up?

A: No. I know what I can do as a player and my job is just to get on base and let the guys behind me drive me in. As long as there ain't no pressure on me to hit home runs or anything, then I don't really feel any pressure. If anybody ever starts putting pressure on me to hit home runs, that's when I'm in real trouble. (Editor's note: Campana has zero career home runs in 1,058 at-bats.)

Q: You also had a nice showing in Venezuela. What did you work on there?

A: Down there, they throw a lot of off-speed pitches, and I knew that going in. During the season in Double-A, being a leadoff hitter and everybody knowing how fast I am, nobody really (threw) me a lot of breaking balls; it's a lot of fastballs and trying to get ahead in the count. Then I got down there and it was all curveballs, changeups and sliders, so I was glad I got to see more of that.

Q: How did the hamstring injury occur?

A: Running to first base. I put my foot down and sort of lunged at first base. I've never really done that before and don't know why I did it then. I'm 100 percent now. I had to go down to Phoenix for a while and they got me all right. I did all my treatment down there, so now I'm just training.

Q: After two-plus years in the Cubs' system, what type of hitter would you classify yourself as, and have you changed your approach at all since the draft and since you've been in the system?

A: The big difference is I've gotten stronger, so I'm able to hit some balls in the gaps now for doubles and triples. Coming out of college, I was one of those guys that would slap the ball the other way and try to beat the throw. Now, I'm strong enough where I can hit the ball through the infield, and I can hit the ball into the gap for some doubles and triples.

Q: Running and stealing bases is such a big part of your game, and that's one of the first things people associate with you. Aside from just being naturally fast, how much time do you spend on your running game?

A: I put a lot into it. Every off-season, I do some speed training and I work on bunting as much as I can. Being a speedy guy, that's got to be a big part of your game.

Q: You were drafted in the same draft class as your college teammate, Josh Harrison. Do you guys still talk now that he's with the Pirates?

A: Me and him are real good friends going back to college. We talk to each other all the time and still compete. Even though we're not in the same leagues, we're always talking trash to each other -- who's hitting better, who's stealing more bags, stuff like that. It's something that helps both of us I think.

Q: What are some of your other goals for the coming season?

A: I'm just going to work as hard as I can and let the chips fall where they may. I hope that I've played well enough to move up to the next (level), but if not I'll go back to wherever they want me to go, and I'll play hard.

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