MadFriars' Interview: Jaff Decker

PEORIA, AZ: Jaff Decker was a supplemental first round pick of the San Diego Padres in the 2008 draft and immediately caught everyone's attention with a big debut in the Arizona League where he hit .352/.523/.541.

Decker, 22, has consistently been one of the youngest players in any league that he has played in had his first stumble last year in San Antonio where he hit a career low .236/.373/.417.

Many thought the big problem was some mechanical problems and that Decker may have been a little too patient at the plate; consistently looking for, as former Padres' Assistant General Manager Jason McLeod stated, "not tying to hit a 600 foot home run every time up."

This winter in the Arizona Fall League and during spring training Decker began to refine his approach become more aggressive early in the count and focussing on what he does best; hit the ball hard and get on base.

We caught up with Jaff at the end of spring training to find out the adjustments that he plans to make coming into the 2012 season.

You had a really good big league camp. That must have done quite a bit for your confidence.

Jaff Decker: Yeah, I really learned a lot from hanging out with veterans like Kotsay, Venable and Quentin. Just watching them and seeing how they approached the game.

I noticed when we were going over your stats you had a strange year. You had three really good months and two pretty bad ones. What happened?

Jaff Decker: It wasn't really about my swing and I went over a bunch of tape with Tourny [Tom Tornincasa, the Missions' hitting coach]. Probably I was a little bit too patient and that is something that I've been working on this spring.

Just trying to become more aggressive on pitches over the plate and letting it rip.

It's easy for us to say that you are too patient, but patience and getting on base are one of your biggest strengths. Even in a down year you had a .373 on-base percentage.

How do you become more aggressive without taking away from what you do well?

Jaff Decker: Mainly not taking that first pitch fastball and trusting myself to go the other way. Left-center is a good place for me.

Since I have been up here in camp in the pinch-hitting role you learn if you see a pitch that you can hit to let it rip.

It sounds like you are looking to just hit the ball hard instead of waiting for the perfect pitch.

Jaff Decker: Exactly. I am going to stick to my same plan of not hitting pitcher's pitches - ones that I can't do anything with - but if its over the plate, and I see it and am on time, I'm going to hit it.

Some of our readers wanted to know about you playing more in center field. Can you tell us a little about that?

Jaff Decker: Maybin has been working with me in camp and I really learned quite a bit. Cameron is a potential gold glover and five-tool player, so you can really learn a lot.

I know I can run and get good reads on the ball.

Even though I'm 5'9" and whatever, I'm also working real hard on keeping my body where it needs to be too.

I've seen you throw more than a few times and you also see real comfortable in right.

Jaff Decker: I will always play wherever they want me too but I think I can play all three positions defensively pretty well. Nothing really bothers me where they play me on any day.

So did you still go to the Arizona Fitness Institute in the winter?

Jaff Decker: Yeah after the AFL I was able to get in there for a few weeks. Tekotte came out and stayed at my house for about a month and half so we both got after it.

I got to meet Robert Griffin and a whole bunch of potential NFL first round picks. So that was a blast.

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