Peoria, Ariz. — Illinois prep outfielder Jack Suwinski and Junior College infielder Ethan Skender were two players that the Padres went “over-slot” to sign after the first ten rounds of the 2016 amateur draft. Many times players such as Suwinski and Skender will fall in the draft not because of talent concerns, but because of signability concerns and strong commitments to Division I schools.
According to Baseball America, San Diego gave Suwinski $550,000 to lure him away from a scholarship to Indiana University. After the first six picks - Cal Quantrill, Hudson Potts, Eric Lauer, Buddy Reed, Reggie Lawson and Mason Thompson - it was the biggest bonus that the Padres spent in the draft.
Suwinski, is a solid six-foot-two and has put on at least good ten pounds of muscles over his listed weight of 195 lbs. In the AZL he hit .241/.325/.287, but was much better in the second half - the last 19 games - hitting .261/.363/.319.
The left-handed outfielder can play all three outfield positions, but profiles better as an athletic left fielder. He just turned 18, and is battling for a starting corner outfield spot with Low-A Fort Wayne for the upcoming season.
As of now, the organization really likes the approach and believes the power will start to come into play this year.
MadFriars: How is your first Spring Training going?
Jack Suwinski: It is really good and I’m enjoying it.
You got drafted last year by the Padres in the fifteenth round - mainly because you had a scholarship to play at Indiana - but you ended up turning pro. Why did you decide to go?
Jack Suwinski: Mainly it’s something I have always wanted to do. It was just a matter if the opportunity was going to be there. I knew it was going to take awhile because I was drafted after the tenth round, so we had to wait for certain guys to sign, it was there and I was ready.
Before the new rules many players would sign just before the end of the year, but under the new system players like you get to go out and play.
How much did going out and playing last season help you prepare for this year.
Jack Suwinski: I think its huge. Going straight from high school to pro ball is hard; I am not going to lie to you, it is hard. The pitching the competition, the workouts, playing everyday being on your own is just a big difference.
Being able to come out here and have an idea of what is going to happen and what I need to do to get better is really big.
I can remember going to college was a huge adjustment at 18, I can’t imagine trying to do this as a professional baseball player.
Jack Suwinski: Definitely, the lifestyle is very different. Last year when I was home in Chicago I would be up at 7:15 be at school at 7:45 and was done with class by 3:30. If we weren’t in baseball season, I would go off and do my own workouts. Once we were in high season - we weren’t the best team, but we worked very hard - that would occupy a lot of time.
Coming down here was just a lot different, as you said. Learning how to do my own laundry, getting your own food when the team didn’t provide it for you and other things. Knowing what you need to do, basically learning how to be responsible for yourself.
Also in the offseason so much is on you to get better. If you are screwing around, you are going to pay for it.
Jack Suwinski: After Instructs I went back to my old travel ball facility and my hitting coach - who has known me since I was nine years old, so we really got after it. We shared a building with a strength and conditioning facility, so I worked on my footwork and speed.
On my own, a lot of things we were taught by our coordinators on defense I also worked on.
In high school you played centerfield and here you have been playing both in center and in the corners. Where do you feel most comfortable?
Jack Suwinski: I feel comfortable at all three. n high school I played center and right and on travel ball I was always in center. I also played a little left in some fall ball. Here I played a little left, so it helped that I had some experience.
Offensively you seem to have more power in your swing than you have shown so far, but I know you guys are always working on the hit tool first. What are your goals going into the season?
Jack Suwinski: The biggest thing I have been trying to work on is something they talked about in mini-camp; a “good swing” decision. That has really helped me understand my zone and try to stay within in it.
If a pitcher throws a strike outside of it before I have two strikes, then take it. So far it has helped me get better contact and draw more walks. Hopefully, I can carry that into the season.