Padres Prospect Interview: Keith Conlon

Eugene, OR-- Keith Conlon got off to a slow start in Eugene before pouring it on down the stretch, leading to a promotion to Fort Wayne. We caught up with the outfielder prior to his move up the ladder.

Six of his last nine games in Eugene produced multi-hit efforts and he had an RBI in five of six games while scoring 14 over his last eight.

Since arriving in Fort Wayne, Conlon has struggled, hitting .105 in six games.

Our interview with the Texas native took place two days before going to the Midwest League.

You joined the Padres and end up being the oldest guy in Eugene. As the elder statesman, what was it like in Eugene?

Keith Conlon: I have learned a lot. Rid (manager Greg Riddoch) knows a lot about the game – the mental side of the game. I learned a ton from him in the month I (was there).

The biggest adjustment is playing everyday. In college you played on Tuesday and then Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Usually on Wednesday and Thursday it was a short practice and you got ready to go for the weekend.

Here, you play a game and the next day you are right back playing the same team or you are getting on a bus and going somewhere else.

How do you adjust your body to prepare for these rigors? Can you even scale back on certain days, especially when people are now watching you and this is your job?

Keith Conlon: It is a mental game with yourself. You get up and know you have to be ready to play. You might be in the lineup that day. We played 60 games in college and you think it is over. You have 76 more games and it is a whole new season. You are trying to make the playoffs so it never stops.

Physically you can do it. Your body is going to get tired but for me it has been the mental drain, knowing every single day I have a game to play.

When you look ahead to the off-season – how do you change and prepare in a different way?

Keith Conlon: It will be totally different because you will have five months off. You can hit the weights when you need to and do the running when you need to get your body ready. Hopefully, you have the one season with the one team, if you don't get moved up, where you have 140 games and you know start to finish it won't be split up – this was my college season and now here is a new season to get ready for.

You got off to a little bit of a slow start but kicked it up a notch. How has the comfort level been for you at the plate?

Keith Conlon: It has been all right. There have been times when I have felt really good and times when I felt bad. I am trying to stay consistent. We had a bunch of position players so it was about trying to find a groove. The wood bats have been adjustment as well. You can get away with it in college but not here.

What has the competition level been like for you?

Keith Conlon: You see guys who run it up there higher than college. In college you would face teams that have one or two good pitchers and you get into the bullpen and are pretty sure you are going to put the barrel on the ball. Here, it is one guy after another with velocity and off-speed pitches.

What is your game about at the plate?

Keith Conlon: My game is trying to drive the ball up the middle to drive in runs and hopefully hit for power. It kind of depends where I am hitting in the lineup. If I am down in the lineup, my job is to get on base. If I am hitting in the middle of the lineup I am going to try and drive in runs and get those RBIs.

Is there any pressure on you to get those runs in when you do hit in the middle of the lineup, and does it take away from the patiently aggressive approach the Padres want?

Keith Conlon: Not really. When you have runners on they want you to be more aggressive early in the count. You still have to do what they tell you and be patiently aggressive. It is an adjustment from college. In college they wanted us to swing early in the count and here they want us to work the count. So, that has been an adjustment. I feel like I am getting used to it. It will take some time.

How difficult is it to change your whole philosophy – something you have been doing for so long it becomes innate?

Keith Conlon: It is difficult, but that is why they start you off in short-season so you can adjust. Hopefully this will be the learning curve, and Spring Training and the next season you will take off with it.

I mentioned you being the oldest guy here – does that weigh on you at all with the thought that you don't have the time these other guys do?

Keith Conlon: It could, but I know I have my degree and can be successful at other things.

I am going to enjoy it. I love to play baseball. If it works out for me – great. If it doesn't, I wont have any regrets. Not many people can say they played minor league baseball.

Talk to me about your defensive work in the outfield.

Keith Conlon: I am confident in my defense. I played centerfield in college and moved over to left here. That is just getting used to the ball and reading the ball differently off the bat. I am confident in my defense and believe I can play all three outfield positions. I am not worried about that.

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