Interview with Sean Burroughs

For three years running, 2000, 2001 and 2002, Sean Burroughs was rated by Baseball America as the organization's top prospect, culminating in 2002 when he was ranked one of the five best overall prospects in baseball. Sean was supposed to become the next Tony Gwynn. So what happened?

In 2002 Burroughs was hurt and caught up in a nasty snit when the incumbent third baseman Phil Nevin who publicly complained about being moved from third to first base. The team even sent Burroughs back to Portland to learn how to play second base, in what became a wasted season.

In 2003, the Padres decided that Burroughs needed to hit home runs, and in his first month of that experiment he hit .192. When the team left him alone and told him to just try to hit, Burroughs became the slashing gap hitter that he was advertised to be. In the first half of 2003 posting numbers of 305/.367/.443, with 20 doubles and five home runs. Although he tailed off in the second half, Burroughs still put up some solid statistics for the year and showed the promise that was advertised.

In 2004, the Padres decided that Burroughs would become a leadoff hitter, something he had never done before. Throughout the season Burroughs frequently looked uncomfortable, unsure of what type of hitter he should be, aggressive or taking pitches, trying to draw walks or looking to hit the ball into the gaps. Although he finished the season hitting .298, a poor OPS total, which reflected his lack of walks or ability to hit for power, led San Diego to look for another leadoff hitter.

This season, despite a decent start, Burroughs fell into even more of a hole with only seven extra base hits and 15 RBIs in 255 at bats. The Padres, deciding that they needed more power production out of third base, traded for Joe Randa from Cincinnati and sent their once golden child down to Portland on July 23.

We caught up with Sean in Portland to see how he is holding up and what he is doing to get back to the major leagues. Is he trying to hit for power? Has he changed his approach, and what is up with the shaved melon?

John Conniff: Everyone that we talk to here talks about what a positive attitude that you have had since you've come to Portland. How have you been able to stay so positive and what have you changed since you came down here?

Sean Burroughs: Well I have a whole new swing. It's just been totally overhauled with a whole new approach. I've just been trying to hit the ball hard every time up. I'm feeling good and I've always had confidence in myself. It's just a great bunch of guys, and I'm feeling really comfortable here.

John Conniff: What specific changes have you made with your swing?

Sean Burroughs: I'm holding my hands a little higher, cocking my wrists more, a whole new player, I feel great.

John Conniff: When I've watched you play in San Diego you always seem to have really good hand eye coordination, maybe the best on the team. In a way did that hurt you because you were able to make contact with pitches a lot of guys couldn't get, which made you less selective at the plate?

Sean Burroughs: Yeah, it's kind of a negative-positive. Before I would get a pitch and not put a good swing on it, now I'm hitting through pitches, putting a good swing on it. For me now the strikeouts aren't as big a concern, putting a good swing on the ball is.

John Conniff: The two games that I was able to see you in Portland you really have driven the ball to right field. That Friday night you had a grand slam home run and then Saturday you doubled against the right field wall. Are you trying to pull the ball more for power?

Sean Burroughs: Last year I was more opened up, just flicking the bat at the ball, I wasn't really swinging with authority. Now I'm trying to drive the ball, right now I already have more extra base hits here than I did in San Diego in two weeks. I just didn't have the right approach.

John Conniff: Is the new approach a result of being sent down to Portland?

Sean Burroughs: It's the best that happened to me. I wasn't playing that much in San Diego toward the end, and this allowed me an opportunity to come down here and be a little more experimental. I get to play everyday and this is a great bunch of guys.

John Conniff: For someone who has spent the last couple of years living in San Diego, how do you pack up all your things on a moments notice and move to Portland?

Sean Burroughs: Well all my bills are Fedexed up here, so it hasn't been that bad. I've been living in a hotel out of a suitcase, just having a great time. I think I only took a few pairs of jeans and t-shirts, but it is all good. I can't wait to eat breakfast and get to the park and play ball. The travel is a lot tougher than the major leagues, getting in late playing the next day, but if it means I'm playing ball everyday, I'm loving it.

John Conniff: What is up with the shaved melon? (Sean Burroughs recently shaved his head, but right now it looks like a pretty intense crew cut.)

Sean Burroughs: You know new man, new haircut..(laughing). No, it just got really hot in Oklahoma City and New Orleans, my hair was a little long, and you know why not?

Have a question about a prospect in the San Diego Padres' system. Send John an email at conniff@sandiegosports.net. Some questions will be forwarded and answered on air during MadFriars.com weekly segment on the flagship station for San Diego Padres' baseball, The Mighty 1090. The show airs each Friday at 10:35 AM PST with Brian Wilson and Ernie Martinez.


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