Padres Prospect Interview: Colt Morton

Slipping off the radar a year ago, catcher Colt Morton energized his standing in the Padres organization with a turnaround year, earning a promotion to Lake Elsinore where he continued to pound the ball.

The NC State product had been sluggish out of the gate in his first two years in the system but found his inner Wolf in the Midwest League before carrying that over to the California coast.

On his initial thoughts of the California League:

Colt Morton: Great to be there. Midwest was nice but I am more of a coastal guy anyway. Great coming out there.

Were there any noticeable differences from the Midwest League to the Cal League?

Colt Morton: A lot of things different. It is pretty much hot and cold as far as being different. I really enjoyed Lake Elsinore as far as seeing the ball. I could see the ball a lot better. The ball flies a lot better. It is more of a hitter's atmosphere. The game moves a little faster. It may take longer because of the hitting but it moves faster.

Players are obviously a step above and a little bit better as far as talent goes. Pitchers have a better idea of what they are going to do, more of a gameplan – and a little bit warmer weather.

All good things. And you stay with a host family and they take really good care of you.

The stadium in Lake Elsinore is unbelievable. It is a good place to be. A great facility. Great fans. It is pretty exciting to be out there.

During your time in Fort Wayne, your strikeouts really dropped from previous years but those totals rose when you came out west.

Colt Morton: We definitely have some things to work on. That is one thing I have been working on is trying to strikeout a little bit less. That is something that I have been a little bit disappointed in myself as I came (to Lake Elsinore). I had a few home runs early but also had a few too many strikeouts.

It is more getting a feel for what the pitchers are trying to do out here and also with the ball flying a little bit out here my swing, because I am still young and my head telling me I can hit it a little bit farther, my swing gets a little long and you get a little big and swing and miss a little more than you should.

Those are things I will have to work through. I have made a lot of improvements this last year and hopefully I can continue to make more improvements as I go up. That is everybody's goal, to get better each day and hopefully I can continue to cut down on my strikeouts.

Talk about the experience of playing in PETCO Park.

Colt Morton: It was outstanding. The field is unbelievable. We got to watch the Padre game and the stands were great from a fans perspective and as a spectator, just being able to see the game and see the field and enjoy the atmosphere. And then playing – the playing surface is outstanding. The ball just jumps off the grass. The grass is real short and you can see the ball well. It is cool. This is where the Big Leaguers play. This is where it all happens. In the visitor's clubhouse – it is not too shabby.

I have talked to some of the Big Leaguers that we have on our side and then I knew a couple of guys on the other team. I hit with Ryan Howard in the off-season, once or twice. And Todd Pratt I actually had a catching clinic with him. "Tank", he gets after it on the field. He is a good guy and he plays hard. That was unbelievable. It was outstanding to be there.

How did you feel behind the plate in Lake Elsinore, working with some guys that you had not previously caught? And how has handling the pitchers been different with the new league?

Colt Morton: I feel pretty comfortable with these guys. It is different than Fort Wayne. When I am hitting, I can see the ball better and it travels a lot farther. Guys realize that on the other team so they are going to take a different approach. So the pitching approach can't be the same as it was in the Midwest League, you have to change it up here because the hitters are a lot more aggressive up here. I am learning the pitch selection from the game calling perspective. I am still trying to work on that, working with Razor (pitching coach Dave Rajisch) a lot and still trying to work with the pitchers and what they like to do to hitters. I am still learning but I got to see some of these guys this year and in spring training so it is not like I am coming in cold turkey.

You had some struggles with throwing runners out in Lake Elsinore. How do you correct those issues?

Colt Morton: Right before I came up, I had a hamstring pull for three weeks and played one game (in Fort Wayne) before I came up. I was having some trouble throwing some guys out and I didn't have a clue what was going on so I took a step back and my dad was here and I asked him if he saw anything since he has been watching me my whole life, I realized and maybe I was compensating for my hamstring, that I wasn't using my legs a whole lot when I was throwing so hopefully we have that taken care of. My mechanics were off a little bit after the time off but hopefully we will back on track and won't waste anymore time.

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