Padres' Prospect Interview: Garner Wetzel

Garner Wetzel began the season with the Eugene Emeralds but struggled to find at bats and with his average. The excitement, however, is evident from the kid who led the nation in RBI's as a senior this past season.

After hitting .208 with Eugene and 4-for-7 over his last two games with the Emeralds, Wetzel has gone hitless in nine at bats in the desert.

Talk about leading the nation in RBI's during your final collegiate season.

Garner Wetzel: It was great. It was my senior year and it was great to produce, to get back on the field after my surgery, I didn't know if I was going to make it back on time, and perform well. The team and guys in front of me in college were great athletes and were always on base. It was a great experience and it worked out for me and things went well.

Now, how hard is it to come to Eugene where you are in and out of the lineup and don't know on a day-to-day basis what to expect?

Garner Wetzel: Yeah, it is different, but it is baseball and just like anything else you have to find your groove, get comfortable and that has been tough making the adjustment, just like anything else when you come to a new team. Finding your comfort zone again is what it is all about. I am trying to do that right now.

I got a chance to see you working out with Tom Gamboa, a roving instructor, on your hitting. How has he been able to help you?

Garner Wetzel: Gambi has been incredible. He knows the game. He has been around so long and knows it so well. He interacts and communicates and he gets his point across. He is very effective.

I came here and took some time off after a college season and just anytime off is going to affect you. Little things and it is just getting back in the groove and Gambi always says the right things to put you in the right frame of mind.

Is it a different approach that you take with men on base that has you so effective in that area?

Garner Wetzel: It is. The situation dictates itself. Some situations call for different approaches. When there are guys on base your main goal is to get the run across, whatever it takes. If you have to get out – a ground ball, fly ball, whatever it takes to get the guy across the plate.

Last year, you were a tenth round pick to the Colorado Rockies. Did you consider taking a different approach, despite the injury, because you did drop a few rounds?

Garner Wetzel: I figured that was going to happen coming back as a senior plus having another arm surgery. I knew things would work out. I am here with a better organization, a better group of guys in my opinion. They were a great club but I am much happier where I am now.

You have played both left field and right field already this year. Talk about the differences, especially since you were a shortstop in college.

Garner Wetzel: It is different. This is my first year in the outfield but it is just like anything else it is just making adjustments. I enjoy it out there and the guys around me are great. I have learned a lot. The coaches and the staff have done a wonderful job to make it that much easier on me.

Talk about seeing the ball off the bat and the differing reactions.

Garner Wetzel: It is a little bit quicker and more than anything else it is more nerves right now. You get here and are around a bigger crowd and a lot more people and everyone wants to see you perform. I will be fine. I just need a little bit more time. Like anything else, you go hot and you go cold. It is all about how you deal with the failure part of it because baseball, as we know, is a game of failure. The more we learn to accept failure and deal with it, the better player you are going to be.

Were you a good shortstop?

Garner Wetzel: Yeah, I was all right. I enjoyed the infield. I grew up in the infield and loved shortstop but now I am in the outfield and enjoy it just as much. To be able to get up to the plate and swing it and make plays on defense makes baseball so much fun.

What kind of information have you been able to get from Doug Dascenzo, an outfield instructor for seven years before becoming a manager?

Garner Wetzel: Doug does a great job with us. He is a lot like Gamboa. He has been in the game for so long and knows all the ins and outs. Everything he says you have to take it to heart and know it is the truth. Everything he says he means and it teaches us the right way of doing things.

You were third on the team with three stolen bases. . .

Garner Wetzel: Well, I don't know about that. . .That happens, I guess. Just in different situations and hit-and-runs it has just worked out. I stole a few bases in college but I don't think that is my role here. We will see.

Patience at the plate is something that the organization stresses and being aggressive with your pitch. How has that gone for you?

Garner Wetzel: It is a lot different. The situation I was in in college where we always had guys on base and here it is obviously tougher in pro ball with wooden bats but I just try and do my best to find a good pitch to hit in a good situation and just work on driving it up the middle of the field. You do that and things are going to work out for you. It is tougher here and it is different. The more you move up the quicker it gets and the tougher it becomes. You have to do your best to slow yourself down and slow the game down to make it easy on yourself.

It seems like such a simple approach to take the first pitch and lay off a pitcher's pitch but at the same time I am talking to a guy that led the nation in RBI's and had to be aggressive to do that.

Garner Wetzel: It is their gameplan. They preach patiently aggressive and I love it. It works for everyone. They don't tell you to hold back or anything. They want you to work a pitcher and make work his hardest to get you out. It is a great approach and it is working just like anything else, a little adjustment and it will fall right in place.

What are your expectations for the rest of the season?

Garner Wetzel: Just get after it and play the game. I have individual and team goals but I just want to come out here everyday and give it my all. Leave it all out on the field.

Does it bother you when you are not in the lineup?

Garner Wetzel: No, not at all. That is the thing. It is an adjustment not being in the lineup but that is how pro baseball is. Everybody is here for a reason and they want to see everybody play. Get everybody on the field and see how they react and how they move and play the game. I love being out here with the guys. It is cool being on the bench and just hanging out too and it is nice to have some time off since we are playing everyday but just like anybody else I am trying to be in the lineup.

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