Padres Prospect Interview: Justin Baum

He used to be a power hitter but things changed his final year in college. While the strength was still in his game, Justin Baum reworked his approach at the plate to become a better overall player. It resulted in being picked by the Padres in the seventh-round.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and what your game is about.

Justin Baum: I am a corner infielder, third baseman, and I have hit for power in the past. This year I took a little different approach at the plate – trying to be more consistent and be a better all-around hitter.

I am originally from La Mesa and went to the University of Pacific out of high school.

It is cool to be taken by the hometown team?

Justin Baum: Definitely. I grew up rooting for the Padres and watching them since I was a little kid. To be able to be drafted by the Padres and hopefully be part of the organization now and in the future is definitely exciting. There is no team I would rather have been drafted by.

Take us through the last three years of hitting and how things have changed.

Justin Baum: My batting average was lower. My first year as a freshman you get challenged a lot more. That is just the way college is – you are going to go after the hitters that are unproven. After having a decent freshman year, I started to get pitched to differently. They started figuring out weaknesses so I had to adjust to that this year and take a different approach to become a better hitter.

Did that also change the mechanics of your swing? I noticed you had more doubles this past year.

Justin Baum: For me to be more consistent I had to stay with my approach and stay to the right side more, which enabled me to get more base hits and hit more line drives and stay in the gaps. My power numbers were down as I wasn't able to hit for as many home runs but my average was up and I was able to stay consistent throughout the year.

Talk a little bit about your defense and perhaps you made a few more errors than you liked – how do you improve?

Justin Baum: I think it is just getting comfortable with the position and playing third on an everyday basis. The first two years I switched between first and third – and I am not making any excuses – I can improve by going out there everyday and working hard, working on getting the ball across the diamond accurately and going out there everyday to get better.

You have a friend in Brandon Gottier out here – a former Pacific kid and Chase Headley may have left before you got there. Is it nice to have someone you know close by?

Justin Baum: I actually never met Chase. I know Brandon pretty well. We were good friends the one year we were together. Hopefully I get to play with him in the future. That will make it easier having someone you know to help out and make things easier.

You went in the seventh round. Was that a place you were comfortable with and expected to go?

Justin Baum: I didn't really know where I would go. I am just happy I was taken there. You never really know going into the draft. I was just grateful I was taken by the Padres and looking to make the most of it.

Are you familiar with what the Padres stress at the plate – and this may help you since they stress patience and you seem to have a good grasp on the concept already after taking it upon yourself to get better at seeing pitches last year.

Justin Baum: It is definitely taking a more professional approach at the plate and it is what I tried to do last year – try to have more walks than strikeouts, which I was able to do. It helps to become a more effective hitter – from a team standpoint as well.

What is it about baseball that you love so much?

Justin Baum: It is everything about the game. I have played for as long as I can remember. It is a very unique game in the fact that it is based upon failure at the plate. If you succeed three times out of ten you are doing very well at the higher levels. To be able to do that on a day in and day out basis – I love everything about it and there is nothing else I would rather do.

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