Auston Bousfield went from leading his alma mater Ole Miss to victory in Omaha to being a leader in Eugene where he hit over .300 while leading the team in extra- base hits after his arrival. The front office thought highly enough of him, that he skipped Low-A Fort Wayne all together and is now one of the top hitters in High-A Lake Elsinore.
We caught up with Auston before a recent Storm game.
Most drafted players are able to go straight into the system and begin work as a pro. You were delayed nearly a month after playing in the College World Series. What was the experience like?
Auston Bousfield: First off it was a lot of fun! Omaha is a great city, and it was something special playing in front of that crowd. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I was really glad to be a part of. I think in a couple years, or whenever my baseball career is over, it would be great to go back.
It is often overlooked the difference between playing with the metal bats in college to playing with wood bats. As someone who jumped into pro ball days after finishing playing in college was it a difficult transition?
Auston Bousfield: It wasn’t a bad transition at all. I have played summer league games in the past so I was used to playing with wood bats. Going from college to the Cape Cod League last year helped me prepare for a longer season.
So I felt I was prepared.
When players come out before graduation, most fans just assume they never graduate or they finish their degree whenever their playing career is over. Have you had any thoughts about finishing your degree?
Auston Bousfield: I actually took a class over the off-season at Ole Miss and am now only a semester away. I was taught that while being a pro is great, and I want to stay out of the real world as long as possible, but I should always have something to fall back on. I hope to get my degree in broadcast journalism.
When did you learn you were skipping Fort Wayne and going straight to Lake Elsinore?
Auston Bousfield: I didn’t really know at all until the last day when Sam [Geaney, the Padres’ Director of Player Development] came up to me and told me the news. I assumed I was going to go to High-A ball because I was with that group all of spring training. But then again, that can mean a lot of things. I wasn’t really expecting it, but it was cool to get the nod.
For people who do not know a lot about you, how would you describe yourself as a player?
Auston Bousfield: I am a leadoff hitting, speedy centerfielder who hits right handed. My game is to do whatever I can to get on base. If I can hit a few home runs or steal some bases that’s great. I do a little bit of everything. Maybe not that one tool that scouts drool over, but I can help a team a bunch of different ways.
You’ve mentioned before that strength building is a big part of what you were trying to work on in the offseason. I know you categorized yourself as more of a speed hitter, but is power something you are trying to develop more of?
Auston Bousfield: I am not trying to become a 40 home run hitter, but it would be nice to turn some of those doubles off the wall to home runs just over the wall. Last year I was second on the team (Eugene) in extra base hits. Becoming a power hitter is not something I am trying to become, but being able use the whole field and hit for a few more extra-base hits will just be something that will make me that much better as a player.
Despite your modesty, you have a reputation for being a great centerfielder. Is there anything that you do in particular that helps you track down so many balls?
Auston Bousfield: First off I think centerfield is a bit easier than the other positions as the ball is truer. You do not have nearly the slice that you get from playing the corner outfields. I think that helps be get a good jump on the ball as I can see right away where the ball is going. The biggest thing though is repetition. Like with most things the more you see it the more comfortable you get with it. I have been in centerfield most of my life so it is pretty second nature for me.
I know it’s only been a few weeks, but have you been working on anything in particular in Lake Elsinore?
Auston Bousfield: Just consistency. I think now that spring training is over it’s about adjusting to the new environment and setting a routine. I think that is going to help me be more consistent, and keep me successful here or any other place. I think this will help me be prepared for the full season, and stay in a routine that works for me.