He has placed himself on a weight-gaining program with the hopes of playing next year in the 175-180 range.
"I went in to the strength guy and sat down and said, ‘what do you guys want me to do? I want to put on weight – how much do you want me to put on?' They threw out that they want me to put on at least 15 pounds," explained Kazmar. "They've got me on a separate workout plan than others because most of them are trying to maintain the weight they do have, whereas I'm trying to gain the muscle mass. I'm on a little heavier lifts with a little less reps."
While he netted 36 extra base hits in 2005 for the Fort Wayne Wizards, the Low-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, the hope is to turn singles into doubles and doubles into homers. He ended the season with 26 doubles and ten homers, with five dingers coming in a nine game span in early August – earning Midwest League Batter of the Week honors.
The Georgia native played through most of the season at 20-years old (he turned 21 on August 5). On August 14, Kazmar was hitting .280 but went 10-for-58 over the rest of the season to drop down to a season-ending .267.
The most impressive improvement came in his pitch selection and increased patience. After drawing ten walks in 70 games in his initial season, Kazmar drew 44 walks in 125 games this year. His strikeouts came way down as well. While he whiffed 61 times last year he came away with just 69 K's this past year.
"This guy is an aggressive, confident player and he believes he can get things done," Tye Waller, the Padres former director of player development, said. "It shows when you watch him play. He did surprise me with his ability to drive the ball – put the ball in play. That is a tough league for a 19 year old."
Still in the development stage, Kazmar has elements of his game that need to be refined. The right-handed batter hit .286 off right-handed pitching but just .211 off lefties. On a weak hitting team, he also pressed to come through in the clutch, batting .213 with runners in scoring position (RISP) and .136 with RISP and two outs.
The other question, which will be alleviated with his work this off-season, related to stamina. His tank ran out of gas at the end of the season but the workout program and increased weight should give him enough fuel for another year of long season ball.
"He was inconsistent mainly because he was overaggressive at times," Waller said. "That is something we can fix relatively easy with just playing time. That is where you see these guys grow. When they settle down and understand the type of game they need to play and if they can take that attitude between the lines you will see a more consistent player."
The Padres applauded his effort in the Instructional Leagues – especially after his long season. He hit .263 there with a .368 on base percentage.
One are that is already above average is his fielding. Kazmar ended the year with a .973 fielding percentage, tied for third best in the Midwest League among second basemen with 70 or more games and second best among second basemen with 71 games or more. He has solid range, good footwork, and worked smoothly with shortstop Matt Bush.
When given the name Sean Kazmar as a sleeper candidate for the coming season, Jeff Kingston, the Padres director of baseball operations agreed:
"A great kid, great makeup, can still play shortstop, but we shifted him to second base with Bush there. Pesky little hitter, plays hard, yeah he would get my vote."
It will be interesting to see how Kazmar responds to the added weight on his frame. He has progressed from year one to two and he appears to be headed to Lake Elsinore this coming year. Several members of the Padres' system expect a big year from the former fifth round pick - adding some pressure to the year ahead.