Prospect Interview: Dan Uggla

"At Memphis I played second base, that's really where I've always played. When I got drafted, I played my first year at second base only, last year I played second and third mostly, but yeah, I played first, I played short. I'm in the minors, I'll play where ever they ask me to if it help me move up." You hear that all the time in the minors. ‘I'll play anywhere.' Less often does someone actually do it, and Dan Uggla has done it. "This Spring I've been playing mostly at second and short."

It appears he'll continue to. 

"I'd prefer to play second base, but that is an advantage for me.  They know I'm capable of playing all over."

Uggla had mixed results in 2004, putting up fantastic numbers at Hi-A Lancaster but struggling when he was promoted to Double-A El Paso.  Though he admits the quality of pitchers he faced in El Paso was significantly higher than at Lancaster, he also sees another reason for his disappointing numbers at Double-A.

"I think it had a lot to do with not playing everyday.  At Lancaster I knew I was going to be in the lineup, even if I didn't know what position I was going to be playing.  At El Paso I was playing every couple of days, and it's hard to get into a rhythm when you're doing that, hard to keep your timing."

This season Uggla will get the best of all worlds, he'll be with the new Diamondbacks Double-A affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies, and he'll likely have the chance to be their everyday second baseman.  His offseason was spent getting stronger and faster, and this is from a guy who hit 23 home runs in 2003. 

"I just wanted to be able to come into Spring Camp and be ready to hit, ready to run, ready to produce." Uggla says.  "I don't see myself as necessarily a home run hitter," he says, "I think a lot of those power numbers came from playing in the California League.  I'm a good situational hitter, I'm going to hit some home runs.  It's the same thing with stolen bases.  I'm not a burner, I'm not the fastest guy, but I'm a good base runner, I can bunt for a hit, I feel like I can do a lot of different things well."

For Uggla this Spring really opened his eyes. 

"I worked a lot with the Triple-A group this Spring, but I have gotten called up to play in some of the big league games, and watching those big league guys, it's really amazing.  I think it's a big difference, the coaches and the managers are all paying close attention, the pitching is a little better, it's definitely a faster game, but I love the challenge, and I've done pretty well in the games."

For Uggla the mission is clear.  He says it doesn't bother him that he doesn't know where he's going to play in the field, "You just get prepared for anything, any position, any situation."  He feels like he's been battling for a spot since the first day of the Spring, and he's certainly earned his spot in Tennessee.  As far as what's next, Uggla's got a pretty good idea of what he'd like to do.

"I think .310 with fifteen to twenty homers, 80 to 100 RBI, that'd be a pretty good season."


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