Padres Prospect Interview: Mitch Canham

Mitch Canham received the best compliment a coach could give when Oregon State's manager Pat Casey told Grady Fuson, ‘he cannot imagine what his team would have been like without Canham.'

First of all, congratulations on winning the College World Series two years in a row. Can you talk about how it was playing in the College World Series again?

Mitch Canham: I would have to say that after being the first year, you know, was just a quick little show. I think experience has a lot to do with winning in those situations because not everyone, not all the young guys, got to play in front of 26,000 people on national television and with all of the hype of the situation.

I think this year, I was really lax, and comfortable playing in front of all those people. It felt like it home. It felt like being at our home field. It was of the best experiences that I have had in my baseball career, so far. So, after being through all of that and winning it there twice, and especially doing it with a group of young guys – when everyone told me I was an idiot for staying back and trying to do it again. It's just the kind of guy I am and proving people wrong. I was excited to finish on that type of note, and now I'm ready to win a different type of World Series.

Could you please talk about being drafted by the Padres? Did they show interest in you before the draft, and how are you feeling now that you have been picked and signed?

Mitch Canham: Well, I talked to the area scout quite a bit, and I knew him pretty well. And he has always had lot of interest in me and stuff. You know I actually didn't know who I was going to get picked by, by the time the draft came around. But now that it's done, I'm really excited about being a Padres because number one, their (short-season) Low-A is in Eugene, their Triple-A is in Portland, and they are a West coast team, and I'm a West coast kind of guy.

Through and through, I firmly believe that I am going to be on the West coast for the rest of my life, hopefully. And I think that it's a great fit for me.

It's another place that I haven't been. I'd like to be playing at PETCO (Park) someday, full time. I think the opportunity is there for me to be a big league catcher, if I work hard enough, and do what I have always done, keep progressing. But now, all of the pressure is off, now that I took care of the signing. Now it just feels like that's all I want to focus on, and all I want to do is play baseball, year round, all the time.

I know Grady Fuson was out in Eugene a couple days ago, did you get a chance to meet with him, and did that affect your signing – or what did affect the signing?

Mitch Canham: I didn't get to meet with him, no. I was signing pretty much no matter what this year. I was ready to sign. I won two Championships. I'm 11 credits away from graduating so I don't need another full year of school. This was just my time to go, and I feel ready for a professional career rather than competing at the collegiate level. I feel like I'm ready to move up and start making it to the top.

Can you talk about your game, specifically at and behind the plate?

Mitch Canham: I think as a hitter, I'm pretty patient. I'm gifted with a little bit of power behind the bat. The past couple of years, I've been able to hit. I hit .300 over in the Cape League. This year, for most of the year, I was hitting about .350 and then I went through a minor slump. But, I hit .400 in the World Series.

I think that I can compete in tough situations. I think I thrive on that as a hitter. When runners are in scoring position, I think my batting average with runners in scoring position was another 80 or 90 points higher than when nobody was on. That's just part of me hitting. I've hit in so many different pressure situations in my life that they tend not to bother me too much, they tend to motivate me. And that's just the way I am.

As far as catching stuff, if you would have asked me two years ago, I would have said, whoof, I need some work, heavily. But that's just because I had only been doing it for a short while.

Right now, I'm real comfortable behind it, receiving and catching, and throwing, and handling the pitching staff. I think all of those areas, I'm getting real good at.

I just need a little more work there. And as far as I am concerned, I'm going to be working every year on something. And no matter how good I get I'm not satisfied until I am a premier all-star catcher in the big leagues. That's how I look on it. That's where I'm headed, and that's what I am working for. So, I would say right now, I'm pretty solid, but I have a lot of strides to make.

When dissecting your game, do you feel there is an area you would call a weakness or something in your game that needs a little improvement?

Mitch Canham: (Thinks for second) Shoot! (Laughs) Like I said, I'm never satisfied with what I have. I would like to, in this off-season coming up, work on my speed more. More aggressive on the base paths I think. I'm pretty good at stealing bags. I didn't get a lot of opportunities this year because the coaches didn't really let me. But I'm pretty intelligent when it comes to reading pitchers and getting good jumps as far as stealing bases. I would like to work on my speed a little bit.

Maybe beef up a little bit, so I have more pop behind the bat. I dropped a few pounds this season playing 70 games, and trying to manage a young group of guys. So I'd like to put a few pounds on, get bigger, and get stronger.

Who do you compare to at the major league level so we can give fans an idea of what your game resembles.

Mitch Canham: Oh man, that's tough. Well, I compare myself with guys that can run a little bit. I mean, maybe not Jason Kendall like. There was an old catcher that I remember watching. I'm not sure (his name). I think I'm just kind of out there. I'm not the kind of catcher like (Bengie) Molina, a phenomenal defensive catcher that doesn't really have much of a bat. I kind of have both. I'm going to get to the point where I'm going to catch, I'm going to run, I'm going to hit and I'm going to throw guys out.

Who was your favorite team and favorite player growing up?

Mitch Canham: Well, I was a Mariners guy, actually, growing up in Seattle. I pretty much had every Mariners hat there was. Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, (Ken) Griffey, and Tino Martinez, back in 1995, I knew all about those guys. I think my favorite player today would be Albert Pujols, not because of everything he does on the field, but the guy he is off the field, when I read about him. He takes care of children who aren't as gifted as the rest of us. I look up to those guys, and I try to run my life and give back to the community as much as I can. I've heard that you write hip-hop songs. Could you please elaborate on this?

Mitch Canham: I'm a music lover, and my buddy up in Seattle has a recording studio, and he has been doing music since he was in 7th grade. And I kind of got into it with him too, and I recorded about six songs. Every year, I record a song about the baseball team, and kind of made an anthem for. Actually if you want to check them out, you can go to www.ostateballaz.com. We made a website, and threw both of those on there, so you can download them and check them out if you want. Those are a couple songs that me and my buddy made for the team, and its just kind of a hobby, and I like doing it, being in the recording studio and making music.

Do you have any idea of the Padres farm system? Where do you think you fit in their system?

Mitch Canham: You know, I have been looking into it. But, I'm excited to be playing in Eugene this summer because of guys like (Brandon) Gomes (who has since moved up to Fort Wayne, and (Cory) Luebke. I played summer ball with them over in the Cape.

And Eric Sogard, I played with him, and I played with his brother, and I know him pretty well just from playing against him. I just talked him at the World Series, and we are excited to get a chance to play with each other, because it will be a fun atmosphere. And we are going to win games because we enjoy being around one another, and it's a great atmosphere to get better.

Starting your professional career in baseball, what do you look forward to the most?

Mitch Canham: From here on out, my goal is to get to the big leagues, and not only be the best catcher, but I plan on winning a World Series. That was my goal when I was as Oregon State, when we first had a meeting; I said our goal should be to win a National Championship. And, well, we won two for a school that had only won cross-country Championships before that.

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