MadFriars' Interview: Nick Torres

EUGENE - Going into this year’s draft one of the Padres’ big goals was to take more quality bats if the opportunity presented itself.

In the fourth round of the 2014 draft they selected Nick Torres, of Cal Poly Pomona, a powerful six-foot -one, 215 lbs. corner outfielder who was considered by many one of the better pure hitters in the draft. In his three year career with the Mustangs Torres hit .312/.370/.480.

After playing 58 college games, Torres joined the Emeralds on July 4, after playing a game the day before with the AZL Padres. With Eugene he has hit .253/.289/.380 but more than anyone else on the Ems looks like his body could benefit from rest in the off-season as he battled a tricky knee early in the year for Cal-Poly.

Expect to see some better numbers next year in Fort Wayne, especially for power from him in 2015.

How did you get to Cal-Poly San Louis Obispo?

Nick Torres: I was at Lakeland High School, which is around the Long Beach, California area, and I was a pitcher only in my junior year because I was hampered by some injuries that kept me from being a position player.

My senior year I worked my way into the lineup - and I had always thought of myself as a hitter - and was also our number two starter on the mound. I played right field and batted third and had a good year. The problem is most colleges look at guys in their sophomore and junior years so I was kind of left without any options.

I had planned on going to Cypress Junior College and got a call in late April from the Cal Poly coaches showing interest. They came down and saw me play and liked what they saw. By the end of the month I had signed to go play with them.

Everyone that I have ever known that has gone there really likes that school.

Nick Torres: It is an awesome place to go to school. I’ve never heard of anyone not loving it either.

You went there for three years and really put up some good numbers. Since you hadn’t hit that much in high school did hitting just come naturally to you?

Nick Torres: I had been doing it my whole life but for whatever reason in my junior year my coach decided to not put me out there - probably because he didn’t want to risk getting me injured again.

Up until that point I had played infield and felt like I had been hitting forever. I’m not sure it’s natural. I think I have an aptitude for it but I take a lot of pride in the amount of work I put in to get better.

You went to college and had some high goals, but lowered expectations. You had a decent freshman year, but some really good numbers in your sophomore and junior seasons. You start to get scouted and begin to see an opportunity to do this professionally. Can you take us through that process?

Nick Torres: It was probably about the end of my freshman year I thought I might have a chance. It was something I had always wanted, I just wasn’t sure that I was going to get the chance.

I put myself in a good position to get drafted this year and talked to about every team. Filled out a ton of forms and had some meetings.

It’s funny that I didn’t really have that much interaction with the Padres and didn’t really think that they were going to select me. It’s kind of a hometown team and I didn’t want to start hoping they would take me and be disappointed in the end. Most of the teams that showed a lot of interest were on the east coast.

It was kind of a shock and it happened really fast. I heard from them a few picks before I went and it was overwhelming and great. To find out there short-season team was in Eugene, and that this is where I would be going, which is two-and-half hours away from where my girlfriend was just great.

We always assume that scouts just mainly come out and watch you play. Can you take us through a little bit what the interview process is like?

Nick Torres: I always thought the main thing they were looking at was character and makeup. What type of person you are and the type of person you will be in the clubhouse. How much time you are putting in trying to get better.

If other guys see that, then more of the team will want to work harder. I’m sure there are other teams are much more tools oriented and the off the field issues aren’t as important.

Did you pitch in college?

Nick Torres: Never really even considered it. We briefly talked about it but I was always more of a thrower than a pitcher.

The reason I asked that was that Baseball America in their draft issue said that you would be limited to left field because of your arm, which is kind of funny since you pitched a great deal in high school.

Nick Torres: [laughs]. Yeah, especially since I’ve only played one game in left field and the rest of the time in right.

What has been the biggest change for you coming from college to the pros?

I know there is the everyday aspect of it but compared to college when you might have an 0-4 day and then you have a few days to work on it, that really isn’t the case here.

Do you have to double-down on your pre-game work?

Nick Torres: The good thing is you are playing everyday and have the option to make changes and adjustments and it’s not going to have the same weight as it would in college where an 0-4 day can really screw up your overall numbers because you just don’t play as much.

We come out here and you want to win but the main thing is development. That is the great thing about playing everyday is you have an enormous amount of reps to improve upon something.

Another big difference is that chemistry on the field is hard to find and hard to build. Off of the field we all get along great and have a lot of fun, but its different than college because so many guys are going up and down in the minor leagues.

I’m always amazed at how well all of you guys do get along. There are over 150 guys in the Padres system and most of you are intelligent enough to realize that not everyone is going to make it. Still whenever I come out to any affiliate every one is always helping everyone else to get better.

Nick Torres: That is something that I was a little nervous about when I came here too. As you move up you have to be confident to play this sport and I’m more of a laid back guy, I was surprised just how cool everyone is. We all just want to go out and play and get better. Everyone out here is for each other.

They changed the signing rules a few years ago. If we were under the old rules you might have signed and had ten days left of the season. How much has it helped you now that the system makes you sign early and pretty play a full short-season?

Nick Torres: Huge. You really have no idea of what to expect. I went through the same thing when I started college. I play with a lot of confidence and believe in myself, but still you don’t know.

The game moves faster and you are around better players. I think everything has gone pretty well and I’m going to be much more confident going into next season knowing what to expect and what I am getting myself into.

What are the things you are really going to work on in the off-season?

Nick Torres: Right now I just want to finish strong. There is not much specifically I am going to work on because it has been a grind coming off of a long college season.

Some of the guys we are playing with have been playing straight from early spring training, so they played 50 to 60 games before this. It’s a little rough on your body and a little draining your first time.

After the season ends we are going to have six months off to recover and get ready for next year. By the time spring comes around we will be getting really anxious to get back on the field and start it up again.

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