The short-season leagues are no picnic either. They cram around 75 games into two and half months where the off-days are few and the bus rides are long. So it’s kind of conceivable that many guys are playing to a level below of what they are capable off in the first few weeks.
“It’s just the adjustment period. I think when you come right out of college and into the pros there is a certain adjustment period which really isn't an indication of what type of player that you are,” said current Padres’ outfielder Will Venable on his first pro season in Eugene in 2005.
“It's just so different from college with that short-season, playing every day.”
But some players begin to get their second wind and adjust to the rhythms of pro ball. No player on this year’s squad no player better exemplifies this example than Auston Bousfield, 20, a fifth round draft pick from Orlando, Florida by way of the University of Mississippi.
This August the young center fielder has hit .378/.471/.640 along with playing a solid defensive centerfield.
At Ole Miss he hit .292/.365/.399 for his career but this season he finished third in the SEC in batting average at .336 and stole 16 bases in 17 attempts.
How did you end up at Ole Miss?
Auston Bousfield: I played summer ball with the Orlando Scorpions, which is a pretty big summer ball team in Florida, and there were a couple of older guys on the team. They were being recruited by Ole Miss and ended up taking visits there.
They ended up telling me about it and I just started becoming interested in them. I took a visit out there and really fell in love with it. Great stadium, in the SEC and an awesome town. So I was really blessed to be able to go there.
You got drafted by the Padres after three years there. Was there any doubt about not going to the pros after your junior year?
Auston Bousfield: I thought about it, but after talking with my family it was the right decision for me. I was drafted fairly high and it has always been my dream to play in the major leagues.
I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
How much experience have you had with wood bats?
Auston Bousfield: When I played with the Scorpions we played in some wood bat tournaments in high school and last summer I played on the Cape, which is all wood.
But my first few weeks here were a little rough in getting used to it and how it plays after a whole season with aluminum. But I like it, it’s baseball in it’s purest form.
Wood makes you a much better hitter because it makes you find the barrel. You have to do everything right as compared to aluminum.
What was the biggest adjustment in coming to the pros?
Auston Bousfield: Just getting used to playing everyday and learning to slow the game down. When I first got here I think I was just trying to do way too much. I started to realize that we are all equal athletically and the only way I was going to do ok was to just try to do my best.
How do you go about slowing the game down and not putting too much pressure on yourself?
Auston Bousfield: It is definitely tough to do. Having some success really helps to take the pressure down. I wasn’t hitting that well at the beginning and was trying to do too much.
I’ve had some success recently so that helped me to not try to be too anxious at the plate and let the game come to me more.
How would you describe what type of player you are?
Auston Bousfield: I play center field and like to consider myself a good defensive player. I can run a little but mainly make plays by getting good jumps and have a good arm.
At the plate I can do a little bit of everything. I’m not going to hit a lot of home runs, but I can hit some. I can hit for a good average, get on base and steal some bases. I can do a little bit of everything well, but probably not great. I think the strength of my game is that I can do a little bit of everything pretty well and am fairly solid.
What is the biggest thing you are going to work on in the off-season?
Auston Bousfield: Just try to make my all-around game better and get stronger. Try to become more consistent and figure out mentally what I need to do to succeed.
After the season I will sit down and think about how guys pitched me in different situations and figure out what I should’ve done so when I get to the next level I can become a better player.