Padres Prospect Interview: Colt Morton

Colt Morton has already suffered through the setbacks that any prospect in the San Diego Padres system is bound to come across. Strong faith and a willingness to succeed have turned the dismay into enlightenment as the former NC State catcher looks forward to the future.

Taken in the third round of the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft, Colt Morton was immediately slated for Eugene of the Northwest League, a short season affiliate of the Padres. He batted .278 for the Emeralds in ‘03, stroking seven homers and knocking in 20 in 25 games.

The 6-foot-6 catcher was then moved to Fort Wayne where his struggles began. He batted .171 in 22 games for the Wizards in his first exposure to the Midwest League.

This year Morton started the year in Fort Wayne and the struggles continued. He batted .150 over a 36 game span and knocked hit just six homers and drove in 18 runs in his 58 game stint over two years with the Wizards.

He was shipped back to extended spring training in Peoria, Arizona before being shipped back to Eugene for a second tour of duty.

"I went into spring training feeling pretty good," Morton explains. "I had a good spring training as a matter of fact. If I could have told you why I was struggling in Fort Wayne, I guess I wouldn't be here (in Eugene)."

For a third rounder, the entire experience had to be somewhat humbling, and perhaps even draws some ire. No one wants to grab a rung on the ladder and be pushed back down.

"Absolutely (it was humbling)," Morton confided. "Yeah, (I was mad), I am not going to lie. I wasn't excited. Nobody is really too happy when they call you in the office and say, ‘hey listen, we are going to send you to minicamp (Peoria) and then you are going to go back to Eugene.'

"I am sitting here in Eugene thinking I was here a year ago. What have I accomplished in a year? Because I am still in the same place."

It was then that the man of faith took note of his surroundings and with the help of God was able to put everything back into perspective.

Without the aid, Morton may not have found the rope cast his way and may still have been floundering.

"You have to think, God was faithful in showing me that I have made so many improvements and had I not come back down here I may have kept failing and who knows where I would have been then," Morton admitted. "I think I really have latched on to a couple of principles now. I have really made some huge strides. Yeah, I may still be at Eugene but I am a lot better hitter and a lot tougher out than I was a year ago."

The help has come from many disciples and all have been welcomed with open arms.

"I really attribute a lot of my improvements to Rob Deer, Roy Howell; we call him ‘Target' Roy Howell, and Ben Oglivie. Those three guys, as well as the stuff I was learning with (Ryan) Klesko, they have really been able to help me a lot in a lot of aspects, each in their own way. Rob Deer has helped me a lot with preparation before the game, mental approach at the plate, what I am trying to do and just not giving in."

Morton got to work with Ryan Klesko when he was in Arizona rehabbing a rib cage injury. It was just a couple of days that they had together, but to be influenced and to get advice from someone currently playing in the Majors is something that cannot be put into words.

Ironic it may have been to some. But for Colt Morton is was destiny. He was placed in the right place at the right time by a higher authority. The family man has peace on and off the field and it has helped him realize his shortcomings – in this case as it pertains to the game of baseball.

"I do know that my problem was I was getting long to the baseball," Morton replied. "Sometimes I try and hit the ball too far, as opposed to hitting line drives and leaving the ballpark, I try to hit it over two parks. That causes me to get long sometimes and to over swing and that caused me to run into some problems, especially with consistency in Fort Wayne."

And with the help of his mentors, including Klesko, the pieces are starting to fit.

"I worked with (Ryan) a couple of days when I was in Arizona and you know what…that was phenomenal," Morton said with excitement. "He is a guy who is a smart hitter. He is a big strong guy and he is a left-handed hitter. Other than that, he is more or less the type of hitter I am. I learned a lot from him and he really helped me out. My approach at the plate and having a routine everyday. It kind of helped me mature a little bit at the dish."

Since returning to Eugene, Morton is hitting .283 with nine homers and 18 RBI's in 21 games. His nine homers are tied for the league lead with teammate Lachlan Dale and his 16 walks in 21 games at Eugene already have matched the total he had in 36 games with Fort Wayne.

Morton knows whom he attributes his success to:

"I love the Lord. He keeps me going everyday. Everything I do, I put my faith in him. I know that he is directing my steps so I have not worried about what is going on. I have joy in everything that I am doing. I know that he has a plan for me, and if I just keep working hard and giving it my all, I know that he is not going to let me down. If I didn't have the Lord I wouldn't be getting through the day. Between the Lord and being a family man, that is what really helps me on and off the field."

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@Sandiegosports.net

MadFriars Top Stories