Padres Prospect Interview: Peter Ciofrone

Peter Ciofrone has done nothing but hit since he joined the San Diego Padres minor league system. This year was no different and his reward was a trip to Hawaii.

We caught up with Peter before he headed out to play for the West Oahu CaneFires.

You are going to Hawaii this year. Talk a little bit about that.

Peter Ciofrone: It is a great honor. I am definitely looking forward to it. It will be my first time playing winter ball. It will be good to get more at bats and get more work in the outfield. It is a really good opportunity for me. I am really looking forward to it.

You mentioned working in the outfield. How has the progression been in left field now that you have been doing it the whole year?

Peter Ciofrone: It is going pretty good. I am feeling more and more comfortable everyday I am out there. You can never learn too much so each day I am out there during BP I am learning more in my routes – it has really been good for me.

We touched on this briefly the first day you were out there but you have to appreciate Yordany Ramirez even more having played alongside him for the season. How has he been able to help you?

Peter Ciofrone: Yordany has been fun to watch. He has helped me with my positioning against lefties and righties. He has definitely helped me a lot to see how he gets after balls. It has definitely been good having him in center to teach me a little bit.

What is the biggest difference between the infield and the outfield?

Peter Ciofrone: I think in the outfield you get to relax a little bit more. On the infield you have to know what you are doing on each and every play and where you are going with the ball. In the outfield it is the same way but you get to relax a little more. It is so much fun to play out there. I am really enjoying it.

You say it is relaxing but a double in the corner can be quite stressful, I imagine.

Peter Ciofrone: Absolutely. A double in the corner – that is when you have to be on your game and play the ball off the wall good or whatever.

Towards the end of the year you threw out a guy at home. Talk about that part of the game and the results over the course of the season.

Peter Ciofrone: I think that was probably my biggest thing with transitioning to the outfield, coming in on balls and throwing a guy out at home plate. In the beginning of the year I would rush and try to do too much whereas that day I took my time, got the ball in my glove, transferred it to my hand. When you look back at the beginning of the year I made an error on the first play out there trying to throw a guy out at home. If you look at the first play to that one it is a whole big difference. That was my biggest thing in the outfield – and my routes.

During June and July there was no hotter hitter in the Lake Elsinore lineup. But in August you hit a rough spot.

Peter Ciofrone: I have been seeing the ball good and hitting the ball ok. I got sick for nine days and was recovering from that. It was tough not being in the lineup and seeing the ball each and every day so when I came back it was a little tough. Baseball is a tough game. You have your highs and you have your lows. In June and July I was on fire and in August I cooled off a little bit – a lot. That happens. I just have to stay with my approach and keep working hard and get back to where I was.

How tough is it to stay consistent over a full season. You still get batting practice and are in the lineup on a relatively consistent basis. How easy is it to lose your stroke?

Peter Ciofrone: This is one of the toughest games in the world to play. For example, Alex Rodriguez, the MVP last year, was hitting .330 last year and has struggled this year. You know the guy can hit but it is baseball – you go through droughts. You have to have the confidence. The main thing is to keep your head in the game and don't get down on yourself, which I try not to do. It is tough when you have a tough month but you have to stay with it. You know you can hit.

How do you sum up the season as a whole?

Peter Ciofrone: This is probably the most fun I have had in pro ball. It has been great being in California. It has been great being with Rick Renteria and the staff here. It has really been a boost to my career, being able to play a different position in the outfield. Now I get an opportunity to play in Hawaii, which is great. I got my feet wet in Double-A. I got to see what that was like. All in all it was a fun year. I wished I would have stayed a little more healthy but that happens.

Were you disappointed at all about not sticking longer in Double-A?

Peter Ciofrone: To be honest I kind of expected it. I went up there, I wasn't playing everyday – playing here or there. Right when Gary Jones called my name I knew I was getting sent down. I didn't look at it as a bad thing. He called me in his office and said, ‘Pete, they want to get you more at bats. You did a real good job here and we know you can play here.' For me getting sent down it wasn't a bad thing. Got my at bats here and hopefully next year I will start there.

We talked briefly about Hawaii but is there a part of you that wants to take the time off – it seems so precious these days.

Peter Ciofrone: Absolutely. I look at it like this – if you want to make it to the big leagues, most guys play winter ball at least one year. Whether it be Hawaii, Venezuela, the Dominican or the AFL, most of the guys played winter ball. I am looking at it as an opportunity to meet some more guys in pro ball and hopefully learn more about the game and the outfield. I am really looking forward to it. Plus, it is Hawaii – you can't beat that.

Left field is often termed a "power position". Do you feel like you need to add more muscle this off-season to compete out there?

Peter Ciofrone: I am hoping I will hit a few more home runs but I look at it like this – if a guy can hit .290-.300 and have a good amount of RBI's, what is the difference if he is doing that than a few more home runs. A guy who hits ten home runs, hits .300 with 75 RBI's – you are not going to play a guy like that? I am 22 years old. Hopefully I am going to get stronger. I think the home runs are going to come. I am not going to be a 30-40 guy. Hopefully I can be a 15-20 guy. I am not too worried about home runs. I know I can hit. A guy who can hit a manager will want in the lineup.

So for a guy who can hit, is it tougher for you when you do go through a tough spot?

Peter Ciofrone: Yeah, definitely. My number one tool is hitting. When I am not doing that it is tough for me. Baseball is so mental that you can't let it overtake your mind because if you do, those are guys that don't make it. A guy who struggles with a week or month and is worried about his average it just overtakes him and then he is not playing anymore. I try to stay on an even keel.

How has Tom Tornicasa been able to help you through a tough patch or two?

Peter Ciofrone: This is the second time I have had Torni and he has been great. He fine tunes me. He doesn't work too much with me; he knows I can hit. When I am struggling he will say, ‘check this out.' Or, ‘think about this.' And it stays in the back of my mind and I will try it and things end up working out.

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