MadFriars' Interview: Chase Jensen

LAKE ELSINORE - Sometimes a bit of luck and a change of scenery is what it takes to kick-start a career. At the end of June shortstop Chase Jensen, 24, was struggling through a second straight disappointing season at the plate in Low-A Fort Wayne with a .197/.227/.307 slash line.

But as with many things a couple of breaks provided an opportunity and as with everything, it depends what you do with it when you get the chance.

In mid-June Trea Turner was sent over to the Washington Nationals as the player to be named later in the Wil Myers trade which caused the Storm’s shortstop Jose Rondon to move up to the Double-A San Antonio Missions. This gave the everyday shortstop job to River Stevens and Felipe Blanco, but when Steven came up lame with a severely sprained ankle, it opened an opportunity for Jensen to fill in at the Cal League and he hasn’t looked back since.

Since coming over to the Storm the six-foot-four Texas native has hit .282/.312/.435 with five home runs in 136 plate appearances.

“I really don’t know what happened in Fort Wayne but I really like what I’ve seen so far,” said Tyler Zickel, the Storm’s Media Relations Director and their part-time broadcaster.

Zickel, a former college shortstop himself at Whittier College, added, “He has really clean actions, makes all the routine plays along with a few more, and he’s got some pop in his bat.”

Jensen was drafted by the Padres in the twenty-second round of the 2013 draft out of Oklahoma City College, a school that has had 73 players drafted into the pros including his current teammate LHP Brad Wieck. In his senior year with the Stars he hit .332/.380/.610 with 31 extra-base hits, 11 of which went over the wall.

We caught up with Chase before a recent game in Lake Elsinore to find out what caused his offensive turn-around.

You were struggling in Fort Wayne and you come out to Lake Elsinore and you start to put up numbers. What happened?

Chase Jensen: I got here and X [Xavier Nady, the Storm’s hitting coach] saw something. The first few games I was doing the same stuff swing wise in Fort Wayne - and getting the same results. X saw somethings on video and we worked on them together and it started to pay off pretty quick.

I feel comfortable, its nice looking at the scoreboard and seeing something positive [laughs]

What did you change in your swing?

Chase Jensen: I was just cutting myself off. Stepping into the plate and coiling towards it I wasn’t able to do damage on the pitches that were middle-in. They were being fouled off or were pop upped to the second baseman.

It was one of those things that I just didn’t know what to do. Sometimes someone sees something and I was lucky that X was able to spot it.

Can you give us a little on your background?

Chase Jensen: I went to junior college for one year. Then I was at the University of Houston for two years. Got injured my junior year and ended up finishing up at Oklahoma City University for my final season. I got selected by the Padres in 2013 and here I am.

One thing that really stands out about you is that you are six-foot-four, which is a lot taller than most of the shortstops in the system. Did you have to do any convincing of people in the organization to keep you there?

Chase Jensen: No, not really. I think I have proved that I can make the plays there on a consistent basis. So far they seem to like what they have seen.

What are some of the advantages of being a tall shortstop or have you ever even thought of it that way?

Chase Jensen: I think my range is pretty good and that I can get to a lot of balls. I have a decent arm. Also I have played that position all of my life so I’m pretty confident in my instincts.

The struggle for me is always to stay low on the ball and to get down. Also the big thing is to just keep my feet moving and to be in position to make the throws.

You have really had a split season with what you are doing here in the Cal League really being positive. What are your goals for the last month?

Chase Jensen: Just tying to stay consistent and finish strong. I always knew I could hit and I’m starting to finally starting to show some of it. Hopefully I can make the push to be in [Double-A] San Antonio next year.

The whole thing with Fort Wayne was just kind of strange. I liked everyone one there but for some reason I just could never get comfortable there last year and this season.

What is the biggest part of your game you are looking to improve in the off-season?

Chase Jensen: I always look to improve at everything, because I always need to get better at everything.

Hopefully I can stick and build on the success I’ve had here at the plate. Defensively, you always try to get quicker and faster in the off-season and try to stay consistent with the glove.

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