Padres Prospect Interview: Chase Headley

Chase Headley, 21, a switch-hitting third baseman out of Tennessee was the Padres' second round selection, number sixty-sixth overall in the 2005 draft. Chase, along with the recently promoted Nick Hundley, has been one of the mainstays of the Eugene Emeralds team this year.

If you want to see the influence of Padres executive Sandy Alderson on the 2005 draft, look no further than Headley. At Tennessee this year, Headley was second in the nation with walks (59) and one of the leaders in home runs (12), showing the plate patience and power that "Moneyballers" crave.

With Nick Hundely gone, Chase is leading the Emeralds in doubles, home runs, on-base-percentage, slugging percentage and yes, walks. The only reason he still is in Eugene is the success of Wizard's third baseman Peter Ciofrone, but don't be surprised if he ends up in Lake Elsinore to begin the season in 2006. Chase represents the type of players we will see with the Padres in the future.

John Conniff: Obvious question, what is the biggest change from playing baseball in the SEC to playing everyday in the Northwest League with Eugene?

Chase Headley: That is exactly it, playing everyday. Doing it for your job is just a lot different than college, trying to get yourself ready to play everyday is just a lot tougher than playing four games a week max in college.

John Conniff: It seems like in minor league baseball there is just so much work besides just playing the game. Could you give our readers any idea of the amount of time that you put in?

Chase Headley: If we have a 7:00 PM game, I usually get here around 2:00 PM. Twice a week we have an earlier day with mandatory fielding practice. We come out at 4:00 PM, stretch, BP, then infield and then the game, so it gets to be a pretty long day.

John Conniff: What about the individual lifting?

Chase Headley: We lift once every five days, pitchers go one day and position players go another day.

John Conniff: Could you go over the differences of hitting with an aluminum bat compared to hitting with a wood bat? Not only the distance the ball travels, but how much more precise you have to be when hitting the ball?

Chase Headley: Absolutely, with an aluminum bat you can hit the ball within six inches of the barrel and you are still going to hit it far. With a wood bat, you have to really work on controlling the barrel of the bat, your margin for error is very small.

John Conniff: Have you played with wooden bats much before?

Chase Headley: I played in the Cape Cod League last summer, which was a good experience, but then you go back to aluminum in college and you kind of lose that feel.

John Conniff: Defensively what is the biggest aspect of your game you need to work on?

Chase Headley: There is a lot more bunting that goes on in professional baseball, than in college. College ball is about going up to the plate and taking a rip. With the wood bat there is a lot more "small ball", but your reactions still have to be real sharp, especially at third base.

John Conniff: As a switch hitter how tough is it to maintain your right handed swing since you see so few lefties?

Chase Headley: It's definitely tough, when I first got here. I had like ten at bats the first month, but I try to get those extra swings in BP or in the cage.

It's really something you have to stay sharp on.

John Conniff: How did you become a switch hitter?

Chase Headley: When I was young I was always goofing around with it, hitting off a tee, taking batting practice. One day in a game when I was 14 I decided to give it a try, and had some pretty good success right off the bat. A lot of people can switch-hit, but just don't have a lot of success immediately, so they give up.

John Conniff: How tough is it not to look ahead to who is ahead of you at the next level?

Chase Headley: It's very tough. It's a lot different than college because you're playing with the same guys for three and four years. Here there are a lot of team goals, but also a lot of individual goals.

You have to just try and focus on what you can do.

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