Q&A with Padres' Prospect Chase Headley

With the minor league season over, San Diego Padres' prospect Chase Headley has another venue ahead – the lone representative in the system headed to the Arizona Fall League that has not played in Double-A.

Talk about your season on a personal level since it was a success team-wise after making the playoffs.

Chase Headley: I think it has been a pretty good season. I got off to a little bit of a slow start but rebounded kind of nicely and feel like I put together a pretty solid year. I think overall as a team we had a good season and personally did well.

You mentioned the early season struggles. Was there any mechanical changes with your swing or was it just a mental block you overcame?

Chase Headley: I think there were a couple of things we tweaked, nothing major, just a couple of things to free up my hands a little bit. Mainly it was a mental thing and I really didn't have that time off before and hadn't seen live pitching in a while. It was also a big jump because I really didn't play a whole lot in Fort Wayne last year so coming from short season to here was a pretty big jump. It took me some time to get used to the pitching and seeing more polished guys on the mound everyday. Getting your confidence back and making the minor adjustments did help. I think mainly it was in my head and getting back in the swing of things. Seeing better pitching, I knew I was going to have to make some adjustments.

This is a long season and not getting any time off wears on every player after a while. You are also heading to the Arizona Fall League. How do you balance keeping yourself healthy and still maintaining the stroke? Being tired leads to bad habits.

Chase Headley: It is tough. I have done that. There is a fine line of going out there and working hard and working smart. You can't go out there and just blow yourself out everyday. In college I was one of those guys who would go out and hit extra everyday and you could do that. I learned this year that you can almost work yourself too hard and wear yourself down. I hit a little bit of a wall in early August where my body didn't feel that great. Nothing was wrong but I didn't feel as strong as I had been. I had to catch my breath and get back to it. I am still learning about that fine line of where I can still get my work in but not really pushing yourself too hard.

You are hitting better lefty than you are righty, has there been any adjustments because I do seem to remember talk about making a you a full time right-handed hitter – kind of ironic.

Chase Headley: I haven't spoken to anyone specifically who has said that. Last year it came across that I was going to hit only right-handed. I don't know. It is one of those things that you are never going to have complete balance but I really do want to get as close as I can between those two. It is close to 100 points – it is a pretty drastic difference. I want to even that out if I am going to stay both ways. If someone tells me they want me to stick to one way I will be open to that but for now I am going to keep doing what I have been doing and see how it goes.

You haven't seen that many great guys in the major leagues who are switch-hitters. I don't necessarily know why but it is pretty strange.

Chase Headley: It is tough to be a switch-hitter. It is tough to maintain one swing during the year much less two. You try to keep them as similar as you can but it really is two different swings. It always seems like you are going good one way and they are going to run out lefty so you have to hit right-handed. You never really feel like you are going well both ways and when you do it is pretty rare. I don't know what the reason is. For me, I know it is difficult to keep two swings. It is nice to turnaround and eliminate a pitch here or there. A lot of guys don't like to throw that breaking ball and stick to two pitches. I can't give a great explanation but we will see what happens.

You were honored with an invite to the AFL – the lone representative who hasn't played in Double-A. Talk about that.

Chase Headley: I think it is going to be an amazing experience and am really honored with this chance. I think it says a lot about our minor league instructors that they have the confidence in me and expect I can go out there and play. I like to be challenged. Even being sent to this league at the beginning of the league was a good challenge. I am hoping I can have as much success down there as I did here. We had some pretty good A-ballers who aren't going so I am honored and excited for the opportunity.

The defense this year in Lake Elsinore has been really good across the diamond – a spot that hadn't been that great in previous years coming in. What is it like out there?

Chase Headley: It is fun to watch out there every night. You are seeing some spectacular plays. Kaz (Sean Kazmar) has made some unbelievable plays.

Brownie (Tim Brown) has been great. You don't think of first base being a great defensive position but he is the best I have ever played with. I know he saved me five or six errors just from playing with him.

Skip (Adams) has been so solid all year.

Our outfield – Yordany in centerfield has made some catches where all you can say is ‘Wow!'

It has been an exciting club. You don't think of defense as being excited but this year it has been more pitching and defense. What carried us all year has been the pitching and defense. It was exciting to go out and play with all those guys.

Was their a stigma this season with playing at the Diamond in Lake Elsinore? Your road record was better than your home mark.

Chase Headley: You would think we would be better at home, especially with what our stats tell us with our pitching doing so well and the yard being bigger than everywhere else. I have no idea why.

After the AFL, what will the off-season be like for you?

Chase Headley: I am going back to Knoxville. I have a condo down there. Working out down there will be a shortened off-season because of the Fall League.

I am trying to get with Danny Stinnett down in Peoria to work out a program because one of my main goals is to put on a little weight, like ten pounds if I can. That shortened time isn't going to help my cause. Maybe do a little bit of a hybrid thing where when I am down in Peoria I can start that process so when I get back I am not starting from scratch. It is a fine line because I definitely want to be out there feeling good down in the Fall League because it is an amazing opportunity, getting to play in front of a lot of people and good competition so I don't want to hinder myself with that. I also have next season in mind as well.

Have you lost any weight this year?

Chase Headley: I actually haven't lost any weight. I have lost a few pounds here or there and fluctuated. I started the year at 205 or 206 and right now am 204 or 205. It has been nice to keep that up. I really don't have a lot of weight to lose because I have a lean upper body but that is where I have the most to gain so that is where I am going to focus on in the off-season.

Do you want more power out of it – is that the ultimate goal?

Chase Headley: Yeah. Being a third baseman or corner infielder or whatever it ends up you have to hit for a little bit of power. I know it is there; I have the strength to do it. It is a matter of working hard everyday. I finally stopped growing as I was a little bit skinny throughout high school and I can now start to put on more mass and I am hoping that will lead to more power. Playing with wood bats for a couple of seasons will help too. It is a big difference between metal and wood and the more swings I get that power will come a little more.

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