Prospect Profile: Nick Trzesniak

Defense and pitching wins Championships but defense alone will not get you to the show. Nick Trzesniak is the best defensive catcher in the Padres' system. No matter what you hear elsewhere, it is a fact. He just hasn't been able to put it together at the plate."Try catching in Mobile," Trzesniak would surely say. There is no doubt that the demands of the Southern League on a catcher are unbelievable. He has to deal with the heat – with a mask on. It isn't easy.

And Nick Trzesniak had the best percentage of runners thrown out in the entire league. He spends a lot of time on the art of catching and if you ask him he will tell you that his defense will get him to the Big Leagues.

But he has to show an ability to hit and he did not do that consistently in 2004. Minus one three week stretch in late May, early June, Trzesniak's average hovered at or below .200 for the year.

"Early on, Nick had problems with his back, Padres' Director of Player Development Tye Waller said. "He is healthy (this year) and it is just a matter of coming up with a plan that is going to work."

He hit safely in 11-of-12 games and his average jumped from .208 to a season high .266. He followed that up by going 3-for-67 and his average again dipped below .200 and stayed below .200 for a month.

His best hitting month, ironically was August. He hit .266 for the month but only raised his average from .195 to .211. That is because he did not hit higher than .230 in any previous month.

"He has been a puzzle in all of our minds," Waller said. "We have always thought there was more there. This level (Double-A), I think was a true test for Nick.

"He had to go home this (past) winter and he had to think about ‘how am I going to approach this season and come out and be consistent.' He really has to trust in himself and go out and have enough confidence to drive the ball and find out what kind of hitter he is going to be."

The problem is Trzesniak has not hit above .245 at any level above Rookie-ball. As he lost confidence this past year, Trzesniak's walk totals also took a dive.

"I think sometimes he is satisfied with putting the ball in play," added Waller. "(Similar to) Mike Johnson – just put a good swing on the ball and stay consistent with your approach."

"I was just going up there with the wrong things in my head like telling myself I couldn't do it," Trzesniak admitted of his 2004 season.

Blessed with quick feet and a cannon arm, Trzesniak spent a lot of time working during the offseason on his catching skills – as he does every offseason. He understands that is an important skill set he does not want to lose but hopefully he followed it up with some hitting and work on his mental health at the plate.

Considering he will be back in Mobile for a second tour, Trzesniak needs to enter the year and see success from the start. Otherwise, it could be another long season.

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