Padres Prospect Interview: Phil Laurent

Signed out of the independent leagues, Phil Laurent has been itching to get a chance to show what he can do at the professional level. Now he has his shot.

What was the signing process like and what are you feeling today?

Phil Laurent: It is finally starting to settle in. It happened so fast. I am thrilled. I have heard nothing but great things about the Padres, the front office, the system. I am thrilled.

A scout named Jim (Bretz) saw me in the All-Star game. He had been talking with my coach. I got a call from our coach and he said, ‘We just sold your contract to the Padres and they want you ASAP.'

I should have been in the home run derby but wasn't. So I decided I had to make my batting practice my derby. I was taking some hacks during batting practice and hopefully that helped.

Talk about your game – what has changed from two years ago to today. One of the things I heard was you made a concerted effort to pull the ball more to gain power.

Phil Laurent: I learned a lot from that short stint I had in pro ball. What hurt me is I broke the hook of my hamate bone the summer of my junior year of college. That took a whole summer I could of swung with wood and didn't. I went right out college straight to the Can-Am League. After that, I had six months where I could really train with wood.

I knew I had more power than I showed. Now, I am finally starting to show the power I can have with wood because I had that six months to work.

How does pulling the ball come into play and how do you change your swing so you can pull the ball more?

Phil Laurent: In college I hit a lot of doubles. I was more of a gap-to-gap guy. They did not work with me at all on a power type of swing to really drive the ball deep. I had 10 home runs my last year of college and all those homers were to right field or right-center field. Obviously, I had the power but I don't get in that slot as much as I needed to.

I come on the plate more than I did in college. In college I was backed off the plate a little more to go opposite field. For the last few months now I have been getting right on top of the plate. Guys come in on me and I turn on it. It has worked well.

We had a big wall at our park at home that robbed another four or five homers. I should have had 20 bombs. It paid off. I knew I could take a risk here and make them bust me in and it has worked so far.

How do you stay away from becoming pull-happy where you feel like you have to pull it every single time and you miss out on those chances to go with where the ball is pitched?

Phil Laurent: I go very well opposite way. I think four of my 12 homers were to left field. A lot of guys in the league I was in don't challenge inside a lot. If you go to left a lot then they will bust you back in and then it is sitting there for you.

The Padres preach a patient approach at the plate while maintaining aggressiveness when it is your pitch. How do you fit into that?

Phil Laurent: I think I will do well with that. I tend to do better with power when I walk more. I look for those certain pitches, especially early on. If I don't see that pitch I can really drive, why hack at a curveball when I can wait for that pitch.

At 23-years old do you feel like there is a little bit of pressure that says your time is running out?

Phil Laurent: Definitely. It was a goal for me to get in just so I could get that shot to do well. I know that I can hit and know I can hit at this level. I have known that for a while but it was about getting that shot. I am thrilled to be here.

Reggie Watson was signed a week before you – what do you know about him?

Phil Laurent: I met him at the All-Star game. He is a great kid. When he got signed – the last team I thought I would get signed to was the Padres. ‘I don't think they need two guys' but apparently they did. Me and Reggie were at the top of the league in everything all year. I got to him know some stats. He did very well.

Talk a little bit about your defensive work in the outfield.

Phil Laurent: I played left field in college. The start of this season I was in centerfield and did well over 30 games. At our park at home, it is 300 to right but it is a huge, giant wall. The guy who was playing right wasn't playing the wall very well and they felt I would be the best fit to play the wall. I ended up in right and spent about 20 games there.

The arm is good. I threw out about six to seven arms. I would like to say I have a pretty good arm.

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