Padres Prospect Interview: Colt Morton

After two disappointing years, Colt Morton finally found the keys to his success at the plate last year and earned his promotion to Lake Elsinore. We talked with him about coming back from his injury, his prospects for staying behind the plate, and how he can build on last year's successes.

How's the hamstring feeling? Even at the end of last year, it still seemed to be grabbing on you.

Colt Morton: Yeah, it was tight, but it feels good now. I did a lot of stuff in the offseason to get stronger and worked on flexibility and getting back range of motion. It feels good now, and I'm ready to go.

The second half of last year was the breakout that you and the organization had been waiting for for two years. What did you take from that into the offseason and to prep yourself to come back in to camp?

Well, I learned a lot last season. Being out for a couple of weeks with the hamstring, I was able to talk with some of the coaches and take a step back and watch the game and slow it down. When I came back, actually, [the injury] was one of the best things because I had to slow it down.
When I started taking BP, I wanted to be careful of the hamstring, so I was real nice and easy, and the ball was really jumping of my bat. And I was like, ‘Wow, I don't have to do so much work to hit it so hard,' so it helped me slow my approach down. So I took it to the game.
I was able to take that into the offseason and take that to my approach to working out hitting and taking BP – just to stay nice and smooth, nice and fluid, and nice and short. It's really helped me out.

Did you go back home for the winter?

I went back to Wellington, Florida, which is where I live, and was there all offseason. I was hitting with a guy down there, Wally Horsman, a guy I've been training with forever and he's awesome. He just kept me fluid and I had a great time down there.

It seems like you really enjoy managing the game at catcher.

I do. I have a good time. I like getting involved with pitchers. They ask questions on how they're throwing, how this is working, you know, and I enjoy watching their mechanics, or how the ball is moving...
Everybody asks me, 'Why don't you move down to first base?' I actually love being behind the plate, being involved in what pitch to call, and what this hitter's doing, and knowing what everybody's doing... and I really enjoy managing the game. It's something I take pride in and try to get better at every year.

Has the club ever actually talked with you about a move, or is that just something that floats around out there?

That's something they joke around with me a bit. You know, guys will walk around and go, ‘Man, you're still catching?' You know, they kind of throw out sarcasm like that. But, as far as from the organization's standpoint, they haven't said anything... I'd like to catch as long as possible, and right now it looks like I'm going to be able to continue to do that. They've given me no indication otherwise.

How do you, at your size, keep up the flexibility?

I have a pretty good stretching program, things like that, that I do in the offseason at home to keep myself real flexible and strong, and to be agile in low positions. I have a trainer I worked out with all offseason, Ed Smith, who worked on my core, my flexibility and my strength – medicine ball things – to be able to work in a low position and be able to be strong and explosive from there. It's something I've got to work at a little bit extra, but I try to use my height and size to my advantage.

You were working with Joe Furgeson on your throwing mechanics and transfer last year. How are you feeling with that at this point?

I feel good. I feel strong and really explosive coming out of there, and feel like I'm a lot quicker. My exchange is real fast, and I just moved my feet around and got a good base on me now. My footspeed's increased – not running wise – but as far as from behind the plate, and my arm strength and arm accuracy have improved a whole lot. I'm going to keep working throughout camp – obviously I've got a lot of room to go, but I feel real strong and confident.

Obviously, there's a lot of depth at catcher in the organization, which means your progress isn't completely in your own hands. What are your goals as you go in to the season?

As long as they give me a glove and a bat and a place where I can catch everyday, that's all I can really ask for – you've got a shot to get to the big leagues. That's what our goal is. If I'm playing somewhere, starting and playing every day, that's all I really care about.
You know, I don't think I'm going back to Fort Wayne this year – that'll be exciting for me, to know that out of camp, I'm not going to Fort Wayne and have to deal with that cold weather season. I've seen that winter way too many times. Although the people there are great, I'm just excited to go somewhere else out of camp.

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