MadFriars' Interview: Jace Peterson

FORT WAYNE, IN: SS Jace Peterson, 22, was drafted in the supplemental first round by the San Diego Padres in the 2011 draft out of McNeese State and was a two-sport star in both football and baseball for the Cowboys.

After a strong debut with the Eugene Emeralds he has been one of the best players with the TinCaps this season hitting .315/.401/.460 with 15 stolen bases in 18 attempts.

He recently landed on the disabled list with concussion like symptoms after a collision with teammate Colin Rea but is expected to make a full recovery.

Last year you got off to a slow start in Eugene but this year you started off much stronger. What was the biggest reason?

Jace Peterson: Just been getting more reps in the field. This is the first year where I was able to really do a lot more baseball related things than in the past.

Right now I'm feeling really good in the field. I'm seeing the ball well at the plate and hopefully will be able to keep it going.

What position did you play in football at McNeese State. Cornerback or safety?

Jace Peterson: I played both. Occasionally I would drop down and play a position we called "buck safety" which is kind of like a linebacker.

Many multi-sport athletes really have trouble with strike zone discipline once they get to pro ball. When I looked at your statistics you always had good strikeout to base-on-balls ratios.

Is that something that you have always had?

Jace Peterson: I think I was kind of born with it. Even when I was in Little League I've always been able to pick out pitches. I try to have good plate discipline.

I try to pick a spot where I want the ball to be and lay off of the other pitches.

Guys like you that are middle infielders and have speed are always talking about that they can get in trouble when they try to hit with too much power.

You have some power but the biggest part of your game going forward will probably be as a lead-off type hitter but you also have some power. How do you work on not trying to do too much?

Jace Peterson: It kind of just happens. I'm always looking to drive the ball up the middle, more towards left-center. Sometimes when I put a good swing on the ball it just kind of happens that I pull it and it leaves the park.

I think home runs are things that just happen as opposed to trying to hit one.

Most people would assume that someone with your speed stealing bases would be easy. But the first thing players like yourself talk about is if you try to outrun everyone you are going to make outs.

What goes into stealing bases?

Jace Peterson: It all really depends on the pitcher. The pitcher can be quick to the plate and you have to be aware of what the catcher can do.

In a perfect world you have a pitcher with a high leg kick and a catcher with a long release. Anytime its like that you can go, but most of the time its not.

I try to watch the pitcher and listen to the coaches tell me what his time is to the plate. Also the situation in the game is important too.

Is it easier to steal third than first?

Jace Peterson: Stealing third is easier because you can get a better read and jump off of the pitcher.

Defensively you are playing one of the toughest positions on the field. Your athleticsm is obviously there but do you find that you are making better reads now you are playing more?

Jace Peterson: Definitely. Spring training helped out with that tremendously just by the number of reps that I was getting. Anytime you can take more reps you are going to get better.

When you say more "reps" are you talking about in batting practice or in game situations?

Jace Peterson: Game reps do help more but any time you are out there taking ground balls be it in a game, pre-game or working out its going to make you better.

You played four sports in high school. How did you have time for anything especially in the spring when you were playing baseball and track?

Jace Peterson: Baseball was first and I would just go to track meets. I would do four events. I would run the 100, do long jump, do the four by 100 and either high jump or if they had it the javelin.

My dad was the baseball coach so it worked out.

You just picked up the javelin and started to chuck it?

Jace Peterson: Just at district and state meets where they had it.

What did you play in basketball?

Jace Peterson: Both point and shooting guard.

So this must be an adjustment having so much time?

Jace Peterson: Oh its different but I'm having a good time and things are going well.

It's good you are at shortstop to keep you busy.

Jace Peterson: No doubt, no doubt.

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