Padres Prospect Q&A with Jake Gautreau

Jake Gautreau played his second game with the Portland Beavers on Thursday, going 1-for-3 with a sacrifice, and caught up with him before he suited up for a Q&A session with the former first round pick and current San Diego Padres prospect.<br><br> "I am just hoping to continue to feel good while I am here," Gautreau said.

Was the promotion overdue?

"Yeah, no doubt about it," Gautreau said with a laugh.

At the beginning of the year you were hitting well and then went into a funk where you were just not hitting the ball well. That is until these last few weeks where you have turned it up a notch and really been driving the ball well. What changed?

"I feel good," Jake Gautreau said. "This is my first year I have been healthy in a while. I did struggle early, but basically the last three weeks I made an adjustment to my approach and I started feeling really good at the plate and it shows.

Tell us a little bit about those adjustments and how it has helped you over the past three weeks, a period of time where you went 21-for-57 and really hit the ball with authority:

"Basically I started to get my foot down a little earlier and it was allowing me to see the ball a lot better. It made a big difference.

"Day by day I am starting to feel more like the player I was. I had a little bit of a setback last year. I just never really felt like the hitter I used to be and this year I am starting to feel that way again."

Back when you were in Arizona we talked about the importance of plate discipline and how that was one of your priorities heading into the season. Do you feel you have made the progress you had hoped?

"Early this year I was struggling a little bit and then all of a sudden getting my foot down made a big difference when it came to having discipline at the plate. I am able to see pitches longer and lay off the bad stuff. I think getting my foot down is really going to help me out in the long run. I am really, really comfortable out there so hopefully it continues for the next two, two and a half months."

Was it your hitting instructor in Mobile that was helping you tweak your swing, or Rob Deer, or perhaps Gary Jones who noticed something?

"I was just messing around one day and found it. I went and told my hitting coach (Jose Castro), ‘Hey, I got my foot down earlier that AB,' and he said, ‘Well keep it up.' So I kept doing it. It was something I used to do with two strikes and I decided to start doing it as soon as I stepped in the box and it has paid off."

Now that you are in Portland, is there any indication where you will hit in the lineup?

"My first night I hit eighth and played third. If I continue to play here the way I did in Mobile, I don't think I will be hitting eighth. I really have no idea where they will hit me.

"I have been told I am playing third base while I am here. Right now I am thinking only about third base."

We are all familiar with the Ulcerative Colitis that you deal with on a daily basis, but you mentioned you were healthy. What does that really mean to you?

"Healthy just means I have had no flare-ups. I have been able to stay strong and that is the most important. When you get weak things start to get tough. I continue to stay strong, my weight is about 195 – where it should be – and I feel great all around."

You are now a step away from the Majors now. Do you look to that as a sort of beacon – being so close and knowing that your name can be called at anytime?

"I really don't worry about that. If you start to worry about that you will start to press. I am just going to try and stay here and hit the ball well and if they need me, they need me, and if they don't, they don't. If you look into that stuff too much it will start to affect you. I am coming here to play everyday, hopefully swing the bat well, play good defense (he committed one error on Thursday), try and help this team win and whatever happens, happens."

While we realize you have only been there two days, have you noticed any subtle differences between the Southern League and Mobile and the Pacific Coast League and Portland? And what have you been able to get from the guys who have been there longer about the differences?

"I have only played one game which was last night. The Southern League is a tough league. I can't really tell you why. It is tough. Mobile was definitely something a lot of us wish we ….playing in Mobile was just an eye opener.

"Just talking to the other guys I hear a lot of these guys don't quite have the stuff that you see in Double-A, but you have guys who can pitch here. Guys that can pitch and really know what they are doing."

Isn't it kind of strange that Double-A is where Major League organizations seem to take most of their pitching talent from? It is a pipeline to the Majors.

"And it is (a pipeline to the Majors). I think a lot of organizations take their top prospect pitchers straight from Double-A. There it is a lot of prospects with good stuff. Here it is a lot of older guys who have been there, guys that might be trying to get back, guys that don't quite have the stuff the young kids do."

Now that you are up in Portland, you are joining some of your old friends for the first time this year. Who are the guys you are closest to and how will that help your game to instantly being amongst friends?

"J.J (Furmaniak) was my roommate out in the Fall League. It's great because I am really close with (Jon) Knott and X (Xavier Nady) and Tagg (Bozied). We all kind of came up together early and in the last year and a half I haven't played with any of these guys.

"We are all back together and I think it will be a good time."

Denis Savage can be reached at

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