Padres Prospect Interview: Vince Belnome

Lake Elsinore, CA: Vince Belnome, 22, was taken in the 28th-round of the 2009 draft by the San Diego Padres out of West Virginia University. Last season in Eugene, Belnome had one of the better seasons of the Padres' draft picks, hitting .297/.431/.500 for the Ems while playing second base.

After a brief ten game stint with Fort Wayne at the end of 2009, the organization promoted him to Lake Elsinore to begin the 2010 season and moved him to third where he hit .273/.397/.436.

As with his former teammate and Padres' second round pick this year, Jedd Gyorko, the left-handed hitting Belnome is known for his plate discipline and posted a very good 102/136 BB/K ratio this year. He's a gap-to-gap hitter, but the big question next year will be if he can handle third base defensively, where he made 32 errors this season.

You had a great year at Eugene last year. What was the biggest adjustment coming to the Cal League?

Vince Belnome: It's just different competition and different players. You start playing teams 20 to 25 times a year so you start to know them and they start to know you. The fields really different, too, in quality, so you have to make quite a few adjustments defensively.

Third base is especially tough here from how guys have played in the past. What have you found the most difficult part?

Vince Belnome: It's just extremely fast, so I just try to do my best. Get in front of the ball and try to stop it.

You played second last year in Eugene and you are at third here. How has that been?

Vince Belnome: It's not bad but it is a big jump. At second, you have more time to field balls and get your feet set while third is much more about reaction. The throws obviously are much different. At third, you really have to get on top of the ball and make a strong throw.

When you look at your numbers you have a very strong on-base percentage and lead the team in walks. What has caused you to have such a good eye?

Vince Belnome: I feel like I've always done that. When I was little, my dad made a big point of letting me know the name of the game was getting on base anyway you can. I'm not hitting as well as I've wanted to this year, but I'm happy that I've still been able to get on base at a good rate.

I know last year they were trying to work on you to pull the ball a little more. Has that continued?

Vince Belnome: It's not a thing that you can do right away but have to build it into your swing. But I have been working with all the hitting coaches and we'll get it done.

When you talk about working on incorporating things into your game, especially pulling the ball, that seems like a pretty big adjustment to make in the season.

Vince Belnome: It's baseball. Quite a few people think hitting a baseball square is one of the most difficult things in sports. The ball is coming at a variety of speeds and movement so it makes it tough. I've never really pulled the ball like they wanted me too, but it just has to work into your swing naturally and takes some time.

I always ask everyone who throws right and bats left this. How did it happen?

Vince Belnome: My dad is like that and when I first picked up a bat it was left-handed. My sister bats left and throws right too.

What is the one part of your game that you are really working at to go to the next level?

Vince Belnome: Well you can always get better at everything. My defense is the big thing right now. If I'm going to stay at third, I need to get better.

I was at Eugene earlier this year and saw your former teammate at West Virginia, Jedd Gyorko, whose game seems quite a bit like you. You guys seem like the same type of player; you both take your walks and hit the ball into the gaps. Is that something that the program really tries to teach or are you both just like that?

Vince Belnome: I was a year ahead of him when he got recruited, but yeah I noticed that too. He's kind of like me, only from the right side. We both hit the ball the other way and he can pull it too. He doesn't swing at a lot of bad pitches either.

It seems like both of you like playing mind games with the pitcher and that both of you will look for pitches in different zones instead of just trying to stay in your "happy zone" ; for example middle-in.

Vince Belnome: [laughs] I try to stay in the "happy zone" all the time, but if I have faced the pitcher a few times and he's trying to jam me inside, I'll look to pull it or if its the opposite I'll take him the other way. It just really depends on the pitcher.

Its baseball, its just about making adjustments from pitch to pitch.

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