San Diego Padres prospect JJ Furmaniak

JJ Furmaniak came to the San Diego Padres as a 22nd round pick in the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft. He has steadily moved up the ranks each year and ended in Mobile in 2003. Furmaniak views himself as the underdog and his success will ultimately allow him to prove any critics wrong along the way. <br><br>

JJ Furmaniak is comfortable with where he is since becoming a Padre prospect. He is not bitter about where he was taken in the draft like many players would be.

You sure you're not mad about being selected in the 22nd round?

"No, not at all," Furmaniak said. "The whole draft thing is kind of crazy, but in all actuality it would have been nice to get picked lower and get a decent bonus."

Bonus aside, Furmaniak views the opportunity to "show up" the first round talent that is around the minors. His work ethic, matched with his talent, will get him noticed faster than a first rounder. The little guy doing big things.

"My whole life I have been the underdog so it fuels me more to work harder and try to be better than first round guys. That is my goal when I am working out. These guys, first rounders, got paid. They may be a little bit more relaxed and if I can work harder than them, than my opportunity is hopefully going to be better. It is a determination thing for me. It has always been like that. I have always been the underdog like I said and I just try and outwork guys and outplay guys."

Furmaniak revels in his role. He is the spoiler. The team that keeps the opponent out of the playoffs.

He gets there by believing in himself and putting in the work. It starts with his offseason conditioning and the success has followed him because of it. Recognizing weaknesses and working on those to make him a better player.

"Last year I really concentrated on hitting the weights. In years past, I was always the guy who did a lot of agility to keep up my quickness.

"Two years ago when I played in Lake Elsinore I hit a lot of balls to the warning track, a lot of balls that were just caught around the warning track. I made it a plan to hit the weights really hard and I put on ten, fifteen pounds going into last year. I saw a lot of success by hitting the weights really hard.

"This year I am back at it just trying to hit the weights as hard as I can for the next three or four months and hopefully things will work well just like they did last year."

Hitting the weights paid off. All of Furmaniak's power numbers went up. He hit 12 home runs, 26 doubles and nine triples as opposed to his 2002 numbers of 7, 16 and 6. His RBI total also climbed from 43 to 66.

His improvement came in just two more games spent between Lake Elsinore and Mobile. While his power went up, his strikeouts went down from 100 to 82.

Usually when power numbers go up, plate discipline is sacrificed. Not in JJ Furmaniak's case.

Was their concern about losing agility with all the working out?

"That was the thing I was concerned about," Furmaniak admitted. "I did a lot of stretching and I did a lot of cardio to stay as loose as possible. That is a thing that you have to be careful of so you try and stretch as much as possible to stay in shape."

So far, the plan has worked. Furmaniak is ticketed to stay in Mobile to start 2004. The Southern League is considered a pitcher friendly league. He will need all the intangibles that have brought him to this level as he continues up the ladder.

His success is a product of his dedication to the game. The plan is to continue that dedication and ultimately land in the Majors.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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