Padres Interview: Josh Barfield

Since Josh Barfield's first professional season in Idaho Falls, he's been consistently ranked among the top Padres prospects. The thought of an athletic second baseman that has the ability to hit in the middle of the order has always caught people‘s attention. And now he is proving his worth with the San Diego Padres.

Drafted out of Klein HS in Spring, Texas in 2001 Barfield has been a consistent producer in the Padres organization, including a monster season in Lake Elsinore in 2003 where he hit .337 with 128 RBIs in 135 games. Along the way he passed more highly regarded prospect Bernie Castro and 2001's first round draft pick Jake Gautreau to the top of the prospect ladder.

Last year in Portland he started out slowly, hitting .251 for April and May before catching fire and batting .343 over the remainder of the season. His on-base and slugging percentage also increased substantially, with 11 of his 15 home runs coming after June 1. Although not known for having great speed, Barfield stole 20 bags in 25 attempts while playing a solid defensive second base.

This year Barfield has proven he can play in the majors, filling the large shoes of the departed Mark Loretta, batting a healthy .300 and had been on a tear of late, hitting .438 during the month of July. At only 23, and with nearly 2500 minor league at-bats under his belt, he has looked better with every passing day.

We caught up with him recently to discuss the year he is having.

What has been the biggest thing that you have been surprised by in your first year in the majors?

Josh Barfield: I haven't really been surprised by anything. I had the advantage of having a father that played in the majors so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Its amazing how much the game is the same as in the minors, its really no different up here. You have bigger stadiums, bigger crowds, more video and scouting reports, but its still baseball.

We had a chance to talk with first base coach Tye Waller who has an idea of what you do well and where you have struggled because of his previous position as Director of Player Development. What type of help has he been to you with the Padres?

Josh Barfield: Familiarity always makes things a little easier. If I'm not doing something he'll come by and help me out which is nice to have.

You're splits have been interesting between home and away, you've hit much better on the road. Being a gap hitter, especially to right-center it would seem that PETCO would be a really good fit for you.

Josh Barfield: I don't really know its not something that I really think about Its just a tougher park to hit in, some balls hang up there a little longer. Its just something that I have to work on and improve.

Defensively there were some knocks on you that you weren't as good a defensive player that you have shown here. I saw you play in Portland last year and had a hard time believing that. Have you been doing anything differently this year?

Josh Barfield: I think people kind of labeled me and it was kind of hard to break out of it. The first couple years I made a lot of errors. But we have really good coaches here, and I put in a lot of work all the way up, in the Instructional Leagues and Fall Leagues. So I think it was a natural progression of getting better and learning things from other guys. I don't think my defense is really a question now.

It seems you always hit so much better with runners on base. In 2004 in Mobile you hit .248, but .331 with runners in scoring position. Is there any reason why you hit so much better with runners on base?

Josh Barfield: I don't know. Its kind of those pressure situations where you bear down a little more, but I really don't think about it that much. I just like the pressure situations where you have a chance to make a difference in the game.

Could it be that the pitcher is trying to put the ball around the plate, so you might get a better pitch to hit?

Josh Barfield: I don't know maybe. With guys on base the pitchers get a little more predictable, so you have a better idea of what is coming.

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