Padres Prospect Interview: Sean Kazmar

Sean Kazmar capped a fine season with a trip to the Padres' Instructional Leagues where he continued to hone his skills, earning an impressive honor along the way.

You were a co-winner of the MVP award in the Padres instructional league. What were your goals out there?

Sean Kazmar: My goals are pretty much stay the same. To stay consistent and to prove to everybody that I belong at second base and that I can hit the ball around. Luckily, I was a little bit tired, but I stuck to it, and worked my butt off, and had a good instructs.

Do you now feel like second base is your position after making the move there as a pro?

Sean Kazmar: Yeah, definitely. Growing up as a shortstop my whole life, that was always my dream – to play shortstop. But as the years went by I wasn't getting any bigger or taller. I'm still agile and still able to get balls in the hole and balls up the middle. I think my primary position at the next level is to be a second baseman. I played 127 games, and fortunately I had Matt Bush up the middle with me which helped me out a lot. [He] made me feel a lot more comfortable over there because we have such similar playing styles. He made it a lot easier on me and made me feel a lot more comfortable about myself over at second.

Looking back at that work this season, how do you feel about your 2004 results?

Sean Kazmar: I felt confident throughout the whole year. I'll be the first one to admit that the Midwest League will kind of humble you as a hitter. In Fort Wayne, we had some long grass so a bunch of ground balls that usually get through wouldn't. Definitely, it's a tough league to hit in. You want to hit a bunch of line drives in that league. Fortunately, I figured that one out late in the year and I went on a tear there at the end which helped me out a bunch. I felt good throughout the year. I never had an injury problem, and we had a great team out there.

I imagine the prospect of getting to the Cal League with the warmth and better hitter's parks is not unappealing?

Sean Kazmar: No – not really! The first month you've got snow and rain. Even toward the end of the season, it's raining almost every day. I'm the type of player that I love playing in the rain, I love to get muddy and get dirty. But when it's 30 degrees and its hailing and snowing, it's tough as a hitter. But you've got to remember as a hitter it's tough for a pitcher to get up there and throw the ball with his hand frozen. That was my mentality going up when I was hitting in that weather.

What are your plans for the offseason?

Sean Kazmar: I'm going to be staying down in Arizona. I'll head down there right after Thanksgiving. I'll start out working out here working out with a couple of guys, and then stay down in Arizona for the offseason. In January, I can get into the weight room down in Peoria. If you haven't seen the weight room down there, it's a multi-million dollar room, so I'll be more than happy to work out there.

Will you be working with (minor league fielding instructor) Tony Franklin out there as well?

Sean Kazmar: We haven't talked about it. I don't know if he's going to be out there. Daryl Jones and Matt Bush have a place out there and I plan on working out with Bush and try to get him growing. We both need the weight, and I'm going to help him out; he'll help me out. We're going to try to put on some weight for next season?

Looking ahead to the 2006 season, what are your goals for yourself?

Sean Kazmar: My main goal is to come to spring training with a good attitude and with confidence. It's hard coming in not seeing live pitching for so long, so that first week will bite you. You know, come in and have a good spring training and hopefully get to the Lake Elsinore club and play in the Cal League next year… I would love to start off in Lake Elsinore and that's what I'm going into spring training to work for.

You were taken in 2003 by the A's, before you went to Southern Nevada CC and now with Grady Fuson and Sandy Alderson coming into the Padres organization, do you see yourself in the "MoneyBall" mold – get on base and be aggressive?

Sean Kazmar: In the past I haven't necessarily done it, but then Grady came in and sat us all down as hitters and told us what his philosophy is and what he wants out of us. He wants walks, he wants doubles, he wants guys on base. I got that concept when he sat down with all the hitters and said that. I felt that I did that pretty well in instructs, and that was a good start for me with his philosophy. Hopefully I can pick that up in spring training.

You surprised some people with the pop you showed this year. How much of a part of your game is that power to be able to turn on the ball and put one out every now and then?

Sean Kazmar: Me and Tony Franklin always messed around when I'd hit one out in BP. He'd look at me and ask ‘how much pop do you have?' and I'd tell him ‘just enough to get me in trouble!' I've got enough to get it out, but I'm not going up like a three or four hitter trying to hit the ball off the wall to score two runs. I'm trying to hit a ball to the wall to get in scoring position for those guys. My mentality is to hit line drives in the gaps, be a doubles guy. If I get hold of one and it goes.

Sometimes, I get on a hot streak. I had that week last year where I hit five in 10 games and I felt great. I was hitting line drives if I wasn't hitting it out. It feels good as a hitter when you get on those hot streaks. Sometimes, you'll run into one and not even know how you did it. I'm going to try to stay aggressive and stay a line drive hitter.

You've worked with Rob Deer a bit by now. How has he helped your game?

Sean Kazmar: I think he's a great hitting coach. He knows exactly what he's talking about. Last spring training, he invited about 10 guys out a week before and did a little hitting with them… I was fortunate enough to hit with him for a week, and then he came out to Ft. Wayne. He's got a lot of knowledge about how to go about it. His approach of what you should be thinking when you go up there with a plan has helped me out a lot and it's paid off so far. They threw out a key term to us – "patiently aggressive." Some guys get confused by that. But, if you get that 1-0 fastball, even though it's still early in the count, if you can handle it, drive it. That's exactly what they're getting at.

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