Interview: George Kottaras

For those tuning in to catch up with Matt Thayer and his <b>Thayer Thursdays</b> column, we apologize, but Matt's taking a week off, no let down here though, in a <b> Exclusive</b> the top catching prospect in the Padres organization, George Kottaras talks about who's in control, gap power, his role on the field and in the clubhouse, and what the next step is for a man who Padres GM Kevin Towers refers to as, "our next everyday catcher." Talk about going into a new league this year and the challenges you will face.

George Kottaras: A lot of new faces. It is a different game. It is all about making adjustments. You have to make an adjustment to each player because you don't know some of the players tendencies and what pitches they throw in situations. It takes time to get used to. One of your big things is looking at game tape of your batting. Why is that so important to you?

George Kottaras: Just to see if my approach is ok. If my stance is all right. As the season goes on, you have to get back into it and see what changes have been made since the beginning of the season and try and correct those mistakes. When you were in Fort Wayne, it wasn't uncommon to see a new pitcher out there on the mound and you probably just found out he was in town. What is the process of getting to know him?

George Kottaras: I talk to my pitching coach Steve Webber and he tells me what he likes to do, what his best pitches are in situations so I have an idea. All I can do is set him in the right direction. He knows what he can do and I have to go from that aspect. Who is in control when a new pitcher enters the equation?

George Kottaras: As a catcher, you're the guy. You are putting him in the direction. The catcher sees things from the hitter. He can tell things just from the swing, what he is trying to do and the pitcher can't really do that. It comes down to what the pitcher thinks is right in the situation. If we feel strongly about what should be thrown and what should be done, we have to enforce that and call time. Do you ever throw down the same signal twice?

George Kottaras: Definitely. I do that quite often. We are encouraged to do it. The coaches say if a hitter is late on a ball and the pitcher shakes off to go to an offspeed pitch that is totally wrong. You have to throw a hard pitch because he is late on it. You have to go pitch-by-pitch. Tye Waller always refers to you 'needing games'. Talk about your progress as a catcher.

George Kottaras: Just playing, especially having Joe Ferguson as our roving instructor. He tells us a lot about pitch selection, watching tendencies with the hitter. Also with the Olympic team, Eric Pappas was a big league catcher and taught me a lot of stuff there, along the same lines as Ferguson so they have the same philosophy so it means what they are throwing at me is correct. Do you expect your power to really develop this season?

George Kottaras: In spring training (last year), I hit some homers and had a high batting average. Tye Waller sat down and told me, 'George, we are not expecting you to go up there and hit for power. Just stay gap-to-gap and hit doubles and your ball will carry out.' And he said as I get older and stronger those home runs will come so he says, 'don't go up to the plate expecting to hit a home run every time, go up there trying to drive into the gap.' With the way that I swing my ball will occasionally carry out but it is not what I am trying to do. Do you look at the rest of the catching prospects in the system and try to measure yourself against them?

George Kottaras: All I can do is control what I have control of. Everything else is taken care of by those guys. All I can do is show what I can do, show my abilities and they decide my future.

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