Padres Prospect Interview: Wande Olabisi

San Diego Padres prospect Wande Olabisi is raw. He didn't play much baseball in college. With the strength of an ox and fleet of foot, the club is hoping he can develop into a fearsome player – catchers are already scared of him barreling down the third base line.

You were a little bit injured this season. What is going on with you?

Wande Olabisi: I sprained my ankle earlier in the year and re-injured it in the wet grass after I scored a run. It feels good. It needed a few days rest.

You came in a little bit raw and did not have a lot of games played. You got down to Arizona and saw significant action. What is the progression from there to today for you?

Wande Olabisi: For me it is just a matter of getting at-bats. The more at-bats I get, the better I feel and the more comfortable I am in the box. Refining my approach and knowing what pitches I like to hit as opposed to what pitches they want to throw me. It is a matter of experience. I don't feel too much more raw than everybody else in low A baseball. I feel I am getting better every day.

That pitch selection - when you are bred one way, how difficult is it to change the mentality and know that "I need to lay off this pitch" or "this pitch is mine" and recognize that?

Wande Olabisi: That just takes time. The more I hit with my hitting coaches, the more selective I get and they can tell me "you hit this low pitch really well" or "this up and away pitch, you are not really hitting really well." Then in the game, when I get that low and in pitch I know I can put a good swing on it, but the up and away pitch, maybe I should let that one go. It is a matter of getting the reps in. I feel I got a chance to do that last year and more so this year.

What is the progression like for you mechanically? What kind of changes have you made and where are you today? Are you feeling comfortable?

Wande Olabisi: Yes. Mechanically I am trying to loosen up my hands. I tend to get locked up, especially if it's tense. My natural swing is more locked up. I move my elbows in and loosen up my swing. I try to get my front foot down earlier and have more time to slow the game down a little bit. That has helped me out so far.

What does "slow the game down" really mean, especially as you go up levels?

Wande Olabisi: It is really tough since you have pitchers throwing 90 mph plus. It is really just about relaxing your body and focus on the ball. Focus on where you want to find the ball. It really down slow. It really does work, if you are locked in and you get your pitch, you feel like you have all day to hit it. That is something I learned from Scoob down in Arizona and Tony here. It is part of the process now.

Obviously you have some speed as well and the Padres' philosophy teeters toward how you play. How can you take advantage of that aggressiveness on the base paths?

Wande Olabisi: I definitely like the way they play. They like us to be aggressive but not reckless. They want us stealing on the right counts and the right situations. Also, just being good baserunners. It is not all about stealing bases. Play good defense and take good routes. They have really been helping me out with that. I had the speed coming in but they have helped me maximize my potential on the base paths.

I do not think people realize how much goes into stealing a base, i.e., reading the pitcher, getting a good lead, not tipping yourself off. How have you progressed in that area? When you come in, we see guys getting picked off all the time. Of course, it is product of being aggressive too.

Wande Olabisi: That is something I always did through high school, stealing bases. I already had a good feel for pitching mechanics and when I should steal. What they really emphasize here is having the right primary lead and creating the best situation for you to get that bag. I am not going to steal when it is a fastball count. I am going to try to steal when it is a high leg kick. I am going to try to steal when it is an off-speed pitch. They really emphasize that and once I got here, I start really thinking about that. It has been it a lot easier and lot more efficient.

How has your outfield work improved?

Wande Olabisi: It has been good. I played centerfield in high school and college. Here they have me at the corners, which is a lot different, actually. I like what are giving us in the outfield. They give us a lot of reps. Everyday we take infield, outfield. It is similar to hitting, lots of reps. I feel I am getting a lot better.

Since the ball cuts, and you play left one day and right the next, do you get almost [ ].

Wande Olabisi: As soon as I see the lineup card, and I know I am in right today, in batting practice I am going to go to right and get my reps in. As soon I position myself and get comfortable, it is natural.

You got a lot of great teammates here and this does not take away from anybody you don't mention, but if you could have a hitter batting behind you in the order all season, who would it be and why?

Wande Olabisi: That is a tough one. Right now it would be Nate. He is the kind of hitter that pitchers are afraid of - his size and what he can do and has done when he hits the baseball. It would probably be him. Though Griffin Benedict is a good guy to have behind you because he is the type of guy who is looking for his pitch and when he finds it he punishes the opposition. Both of those guys are good.

Any pitcher you enjoy playing behind? Whether it is fast and he throws a quick game, or keeps you involved, or you just enjoy the masterful way he goes about pitching a game?

Wande Olabisi: I really like playing behind Jerry Sullivan because of the way he is. He has a similar mentality to what I have - very aggressive. He likes to throw his fastball and I love playing behind pitchers who like to throw their fastball because it shows they are confident.

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