Padres' Prospect Interview: Kyler Burke

Prospects learn – and sometimes the lessons are tougher than they had hoped. Such was the life of San Diego Padres' prospect Kyler Burke this year. He is better for it as he works to reach his potential at the Instructional League in Peoria, Arizona.

Talk about the season this year – was it a learning experience for you?

Kyler Burke: Definitely. I had a lot to learn coming out of high school. I struggled a little bit but definitely learned so much each day. It is an unbelievable amount of knowledge these coaches have and it was a great experience.

Was this the first time you have faced struggles in your life, as far as baseball is concerned? Was that also weighing on your mind?

Kyler Burke: Definitely. In high school I never struggled really and when I got out here I did struggle. That was probably the biggest thing – I learned how to deal with that and it is kind of good that it happened early that way I get acclimated to it and learn how to recover.

When you look at it now was it pressure that you put on yourself as the sandwich pick – a top pick in the MLB Draft?

Kyler Burke: Definitely at first I put a lot of pressure on myself. As a higher pick, I was expected to come out and produce and found out that was definitely not the case. I had to get acclimated to pro ball – it is a whole different game than high school. I think early on I put a lot of pressure on myself. The coaches said, ‘relax and just have a good time.'

Now, looking back on the season, what positives can you draw from it?

Kyler Burke: I learned how to deal with failure and they say that is what separates the minor leaguers from the major leaguers and who can be consistent. That was the biggest positive. Even though you can say it was a negative since I struggled, I gained a lot of experience.

You were working with Manny Crespo down there. What kind of help could he give you with your swing and mental approach?

Kyler Burke: He was great. He worked with me and I worked with Jim Lefebvre some. I just tried to take in anything I could.

You came off a Championship season. Talk about that.

Kyler Burke: It was great. It was pretty lucky to have that happen to you, especially in your first year out. It was a great experience.

Talk about the outfield work. I hear you have a cannon out there and only just saw some of your work out there during Instructs.

Kyler Burke: Me and Tom Gamboa have been working on first step quickness. I am just trying to read balls better and get used to the wood. It is a little different. I am trying to polish it up a little bit.

In summer ball we used wood and I was a little used to it but it is still different.

Were you surprised at the pitching out in Arizona? It seems like everyone is throwing 95 these days – it may not have always been in the strike zone but some nasty stuff.

Kyler Burke: That was a big change. I didn't see that very much in high school. I saw it once in a while but out here we see it everyday. Like you said, one will be up in your face and then they will backdoor slider you. It was tough.

Was it scary getting back in the box?

Kyler Burke: It will only hurt for a little bit.

Did you feel like your batting stroke became more consistent as the year went on. Manny Crespo was pretty adamant that he was not worried about your bat.

Kyler Burke: Just relax. I was just putting the pressure off and forgot about that. Everyday is a new day and you have to come out and battle each day.

The Instructional League is an extension of the season but is there a specific plan for you out in Arizona?

Kyler Burke: I think just being more consistent. There are a few things I need to work on in my swing, staying back in my swing, not going after balls and letting them come to me. And first step quickness in the outfield. Just a couple of things.

Talk a little about your teammates out in Arizona, Yefri Carvajal, Luis Durango, Cedric Hunter and Sam Carter.

Kyler Burke: Great athletes. It was a lot of fun playing with those guys and a great experience.

As first year players do you find it difficult to prioritize your assignments in the outfield?

Kyler Burke: Yes, you kind of want to be passive when really you have to keep the aggressiveness I had in high school. You want to do it full speed and it is better to mess up full speed than playing back.

What does the rest of the off-season like for you?

Kyler Burke: I will take a little time off, not much, and then get after it and work hard. Bigger, stronger and faster. You don't want to get big and slow, you want to stay fast.

Being in the Instructional League and perhaps more time for instruction, do you feel like you are learning at a faster rate?

Kyler Burke: Oh yea. You have three times as many coaches out here watching what you do and correcting every little thing. That is what this is all about – getting better.

Do you find that you have to make the effort to go to the coaching staff to find out what you are doing wrong?

Kyler Burke: It goes both ways. If they see something they are going to come to me and if I feel like I am doing something wrong I will go to them.

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