Padres Prospect Interview: Mike Sansoe

San Antonio, TX-- With the attention that has been given to Will Venable on his jump from the Low-A Midwest League to the Texas League in Double-A, another outfielder has made the same leap, with nearly as much success.

Last year in Fort Wayne, Mike Sansoe, 24, was struggling, hitting .218 on June 6, before going on a terror to hit .373 over his final 36 games to end the season at .293/.381/.377, with 21 stolen bases in 28 attempts. His last month in Fort Wayne saw him post an OBP of .431, lead the team in runs scored with 22, play a solid centerfield and establish himself as a potential leadoff hitter.

Coming into spring training this year, Sansoe was ticketed for Lake Elsinore but the combination of a solid spring and a lack of a right-handed hitting outfielder in San Antonio led the Padres to put him in San Antonio.

"The whole second half for us he was our catalyst, he was just on fire," said Randy Ready, Sansoe's manager in Fort Wayne last year and this year in San Antonio. "He scuffled a little against right-handers last year and he has such a good inside out swing. All he had to do was let the ball travel and hit it to right, which is what he started to do."

In the first month of the season, Sansoe has hit well, .288/.327/.348 but is going to have to improve his on-base percentage, especially his BB/K ratio, 3/14, to increase his value as a leadoff hitter. Still, the jump from Fort Wayne to San Antonio is huge and Sansoe is showing that he belongs.

How big a jump was it for you to move up from the Midwest League to the Texas League?

Mike Sansoe: Some of us were talking about that in spring training when we got a chance to play in the big league games. Once you get the butterflies out of your system its baseball and it's all about how consistently you produce. Here you know it's a question of if you can produce at this level and so far I've had some base hits fall my way, which is a lot better than struggling off the bat.

It had to be huge for you to get off to a good start here with the confidence that the organization has shown compared to last year's slow start in Fort Wayne.

Mike Sansoe: At any level, if you don't succeed right away you go through it mentally wondering if you have the ability to play at this level or not. I'm real lucky to be playing with guys like Will, Drew [Macias] and Peter [Ciofrone]. We all help each other out and try to get any advantage we can when we are facing the game's pitcher.

The big difference here is every day you have a good starter as compared to last year where there might be only one or two. Better guys out of the pen, which means you have to be a little more consistent at the plate, spend more time in the cage to get that better swing which is going to lead to a better chance in the game.

What was the big change last year from the midpoint of last season to the end in Fort Wayne?

Mike Sansoe: Mainly, I just kept working hard and believed in myself. A lot of people I know who have been around the game told me that. Being an older low round draft guy means that you have to produce every year or it's going to be your last. Working with Max [Venable, the Fort Wayne hitting coach in 2006] everyday helped me so much.

You were telling us last year your big problem was that you were striking out too much and chasing too many bad pitches.

Mike Sansoe: Yeah, mainly it was just about hitting your pitch. When I was striking out too much I was swinging at too many pitchers' pitches. When I was getting my hits it was on my pitch. If you're more patient, you realize that sooner or later they are going to throw you something they don't want too.

The profile for you if you are going to make the major leagues is as a centerfielder that can leadoff. What are you doing to increase your on-base percentage?

Mike Sansoe: I'm struggling with the walks right now, but walks are a product of a good approach. If you go in with the mindset you are going to swing at your pitch and if you get it fine, if not hopefully it will lead to a walk. If you have a consistent approach, I think it will pay off. You're going to strike out its baseball, but if you're swinging at your pitch the walks will come.

Are you still trying to be as aggressive on the base paths as you were last year?

Mike Sansoe: Yeah, I was working with Gamby [Tom Gamboa the Padres roving infield instructor] the other day. Just working on little things to improve. I haven't had as many opportunities to run so far. At the end of the year I want to have as many or more than I did last year.

So where do you feel most comfortable in the outfield? Are you like most centerfielders and want to be in center all the time?

Mike Sansoe: Center is like riding a bike, easier reads off of the bat and you can run to whatever you can get too. But if you want to make it, you have to be able to play all three. I played everywhere during spring, but everywhere you can make the plays and anytime I'm in the lineup I'm happy.

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