Padres Prospect Interview: Nick Hundley

Nick Hundley was pushed up to Double-A San Antonio when Colt Morton had to begin the year on the disabled list, and after a slow start with the bat, he has picked up his game. His defensive work, and specifically his arm, has improved.

Over his first two seasons in the Padres' minor leagues, Hundley accumulated 23 errors and 33 passed balls. Those aren't the kind of stats you hope for from your catcher – a spot that traditionally goes to the guy with the best defense.

While his seven passed balls and eight errors are both in the three for most in the Texas League, he has stepped up his game in throwing out baserunners.

Over the winter, Hundley realized his shortcomings behind the plate. He set out to change the perception, particularly with his arm.

Hundley has thrown out 36.8 percent (21-of-57) of the runners attempting to steal. Those numbers are up from previous seasons.

After hitting .208 in April, Hundley has seen his average go up in every month since - .250 in May, .280 in June, and .348 through eight July games. The jump from High-A where he spent less than half a season was a big one, but he has since come around with the stick.

Your arm has improved since last year. The accuracy has improved greatly, but is there something else behind that leading to the success?

Nick Hundley: I have been working hard with Carlos. He really got in my mind about being short with my steps and staying under myself because I was a little out of control. Trying to play within myself and being more mature as a player.

Is there a different feel this year for you because of the changes?

Nick Hundley: It is a good feeling when you let it go and you know you have a chance. Our pitchers are doing a good job of holding guys on, and I am just trying to be accurate and quick with it.

Most people probably don't realize this but how much goes into the positioning behind plate and not giving away those pitches in the interim, as hitter's are always looking to see your movements?

Nick Hundley: You always want to keep the strikes as strikes. You don't want to cost your pitcher any pitches. If he makes a good pitch you want to be close enough to the hitter to not take it out of the strike zone. That is definitely an issue. You have to feel where you are at more than a technique thing.

You were in big league camp this year. What was the experience like for you, and what did you take away from it?

Nick Hundley: Being in big league camp was amazing. Those guys are so skilled and consistent that if you don't do your job and be as consistent as they are you are going to stick out. That was my main focus – to try and fit in. They were great to me. They would talk anytime you needed to. The big league guys didn't have to come up and talk to me but they did and I learned a lot.

Was there someone specific that kind of took you under his wing as a mentor?

Nick Hundley: I talked a bunch to Trevor Hoffman in the bullpen and Josh Bard and those guys. Before Todd Greene got hurt he sat down with me a lot. All those guys. They were all great to me.

When you look back on that, how are you better by that experience?

Nick Hundley: Learning how to play the game the right way and learning how they go about their business – it was amazing. I can't tell you how much I improved just watching those guys.

Hitting was an area that produced some struggles early in the year but you have picked it up every month and seem to be really connecting now. How do you feel?

Nick Hundley: I feel good swinging wise. I need to be a little more consistent and get my timing down. I am just trying to be nice and smooth and loose.

Was there a specific goal in mind for you this off-season that has you improving as you go through the season?

Nick Hundley: I wanted to come in good shape. I ran a lot more this off-season than I did in the past, knowing I am going to go through another full season. That was the biggest thing – after my first full season I knew what to expect and how to prepare.

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