MadFriars' Interview: Jedd Gyorko

One of the reasons there was so much talk at the trade deadline of moving Chase Headley, who leads the Padres in most offensive categories, is the play of Tucson Padres' third baseman Jedd Gyorko.

Gyorko, 23, a second round pick out of the University of West Virginia in 2010, was seen as a classic case of the ongoing scouting debate of baseball skills versus athleticsm/projections.

Even though Gyorko was a shortstop for the Mountaineers, many, including Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein, at the time questioned where he could play defensively or if he had enough power to play on the corners.

After hitting .330/.383/.528 with the Eugene Emeralds after the draft, Gyorko not only confirmed many pundits' belief that he could hit, he also looked much better as a third baseman than many expected. In his first full professional season, he simply destroyed the California League with a slash line of .365/.429/.638 before slowing down a little in San Antonio.

This year, after a somewhat slow start again in San Antonio, he is putting up numbers in the Pacific Coast League similar to what he did last year in Lake Elsinore. For the Tucson Padres, he was hitting .333/.382/.578 for Tucson while splitting time between second and third base when we spoke with him last week.

Whenever we interview you about hitting, you always state that you just like to hit period. You are hitting .327 on the road, .340 at home and your splits aren't even that great on left, .355 vs. right, .326.

Does anything affect you in the box?

Jedd Gyorko: [laughs] Not a whole lot. For me if I know that I am going right and sticking with my plan, then I like my chances up there. My approach never really varies on whether it is a left-hander or a right-hander.

You have hit much better in Tucson than San Antonio. Any reason why?

Jedd Gyorko: I think it was really more about finding my swing. I kind of got out of my rhythm a little bit when I was in San Antonio and seemed to find it when I got to Tucson.

I know you were a shortstop in college and high school. How much had you played second base in the past?

Jedd Gyorko: I played second my freshman year of college and some in high school. So it wasn't completely foreign to me. The big thing was just getting used to the footwork and the speed of the game from that position.

I've always seen myself a little bit as a second baseman.

I think I know the answer to this, but I'll ask it anyway. Does changing positions ever affect you offensively?

Jedd Gyorko: No not really. I've always been able to do a pretty good job of separating offense from defense.

Your power numbers have gone up since you first signed. Are you the type of player that is going to hit twenty home runs a year as you have done the past two seasons?

Jedd Gyorko: I would like to think so and hope I can continue to put up those types of numbers. I know it sounds like a cliché, but you really are just trying to go up there and hit the ball hard. When you start trying to hit home runs a lot of bad things can happen.

As with any baseball player you are getting close to your dream, playing in the major leagues. Has that affected the way you approach the game or is it still just one game at a time?

Jedd Gyorko: It's really the only way you can approach things. When you do that, you don't have time to worry about anything else. It's kind of like trying to hit home runs, when you start thinking about other things it's not going to affect you positively.

When I was in Lake Elsinore last year, your manager Phil Plantier, now the Padres' hitting coach, was impressed about how you can "set-up" pitchers. What exactly is that?

Jedd Gyorko: A lot of it is just about seeing trends and trying to take the pitcher out of their comfort areas. Seeing how they are approaching you and maybe taking an extra pitch or being aggressive early in the count.

How has a guy from the mountains of West Virginia been adjusting to the heat of the Arizona desert?

Jedd Gyorko: [laughs] It's about as opposite as it can get. I like being home in the cool weather but I will take this over the snow in the Midwest League or during college at West Virginia.

I'll take the heat over the cold any day.

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