Padres Prospect Interview: Matt Hagen

Matt Hagen came to the San Diego Padres system from the Seattle Mariners by way of the Independent Leagues. "It is like a new baseball life," he said.

Originally selected in the 12th round of the 2002 draft by the Mariners, Matt Hagen struggled playing for High-A Inland Empire last year and ended up in New Jersey playing a number of positions in the Independent Leagues.

A week before spring training, Hagen came out for a tryout camp and was signed by the Padres – to play catcher.

Although he has seen time at third base, first base and outfield, Hagen has seen duty behind the plate the last few years.

Now he stands on the threshold of a new opportunity.

"That is exactly how I am looking at it," he admits. "I just started fresh, started over. New people to work with and they have been great here. It is nice when nobody has a preset mindset. It is a good feeling."

Known for his penchant for power – he hit 21 homers for Wisconsin of the Midwest League in 2003 – Hagen is looking to add a higher average to his repertoire.

He comes into the season with a .232 career average in the minors and knows that raising that average will push him a long way towards his goal.

"I don't think the power will take too big of a hit," Hagen said of looking to up his average. "If I use the whole field to bring the average up and if the pitch is there to pull I can go with it.

"The power numbers are pretty good. I am trying to get more consistent with the batting average. In the past I have been real hot and then get real cold and then real hot so if I can eliminate the cold spells and turn into a more consistent hitter – use more of the field."

Forty-five percent of his hits in a five-year minor league career have gone for extra bases. That number is on par with some of the best in the game. Sacrificing a little pop with smarter hitting will only propel him to greater heights.

But that is only part of the adjustment he is making. Hagen is a relative stranger to the Padres and as a catcher he must quickly learn the stock of pitchers.

Headed to Lake Elsinore to begin the year, Hagen has been impressed with the quality of arms in the system.

"There are some good arms," he said. "A couple of guys can light up the radar gun."

While the majority of his work behind the plate has come from the minor league side of the field, Hagen also got a chance to catch some bullpen sessions and counts that amongst the most valuable time he has spent this spring.

"It has been great to get a chance to go over and catch some of the big league bullpens and dress for a game," Hagen said with a smile. "You can learn a lot just from catching big league pitchers."

Last year things were put in perspective for Hagen and this year he hopes to apply all the knowledge he has gleaned. It may have taken a road to a new organization but he remains hungry to reach his goals.

MadFriars Top Stories