Padres Prospect Interview: David Freese

Lake Elsinore, CA-- There is not a whole lot to add to our description of Storm third baseman David Freese, 24, the Padres ninth-round selection from South Alabama in the 2006 draft; but the best observation may have come from Peter Friberg, who writes the minor-league reports for Ducksnorts.

At a recent Storm game, Peter mentioned that if you add together Freese's compilation statistics from last year and the first two months of this year he has the following numbers between Eugene, Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore.

458 at-bats, 39 doubles, 21 home runs, 107 RBIs

You put together those numbers; you're always going to be in the conversation.

You're having your second good year in the Padres' organization. For someone that was not that highly regarded coming out of college what is your secret?

David Freese: Just focus. I come to the park every day ready to play. That is the big key when you are playing 140 games a year. You have a lot of at-bats and have to take every one of them seriously. That is what I've done and hope I can continue to improve.

Last year you crushed the ball in Eugene, and then you slowed down a little in Fort Wayne. Did the length of both the college and pro seasons start to wear on you some?

David Freese: I think so. When we got into July and August it was just mentally draining. It kind of wore on me and something that I never really went through before. In the off-season I had a better idea of how to train for the grind that was ahead.

There were some questions in other publications about your defense, but everyone that I've spoken with believes you can play third. Is that something that has really motivated you to show the critics that you can play there?

David Freese: Yeah, it was right after the draft I was reading reports of "this guy can hit, but where is he going to play in the field". So I have definitely been working on that. I'm taking as many ground balls as I can and hope that I can prove some guys wrong that I can be a big league third baseman.

You have a pretty good arm and even pitched a little in relief at South Alabama. What is the biggest thing you are working on defensively? Is it your footwork?

David Freese: Yeah and also range, just getting more comfortable. My arm is pretty accurate, getting the good line throw. The biggest thing is being consistent. In college it was a little rough at times.

This year you've cut down on your strikeout, your base-on-balls to strikeout ratio is much better. How did you work on that?

David Freese: I really worked hard on waiting for my pitch. I did that in the Instructional Leagues a lot. In Fort Wayne I went up there just hacking away, this year I know it's ok to take a strike if I don't want to hit that pitch. I'm laying off of a lot more breaking balls which causes strikeouts and taking more pitches.

Do you change your approach on two strikes?

David Freese: I try to stay as consistent as I can in my approach. Sometimes I get a little big with my strike zone on 3-1 and 2-0 counts. If you do everything right mechanically, you're going to drive the ball the way you want too.

The power numbers are obviously there, but as we both know power numbers get a lot of attention and help get you to the major leagues. How do you balance between trying to put up those numbers and not trying to do too much at the plate and getting into bad habits?

David Freese: All you can do is hit the ball and what happens, happens. This year in 500 to 600 at bats you start to learn what balls you can hit in the gaps. You do that consistently the power numbers will show up.

I read in Spring Training the Padres were having you catch?

David Freese: Actually it was in Instructs. I caught a little in college and about half the teams that were going to draft me were going to make me into a catcher. I love doing that but with my age it would be kind of hard to turn me into a catcher.

It's always good to have that as an option, you know if there is no one left to do it. You know if duty calls, I would be more than happy to get back there [laughing].

What has been the biggest difference for you from college?

David Freese: It's not only the talent level, but in college you only play three or four times a week. Here it's so many more games, practices and different instructors that you have to really focus on every at-bat or it will come back and bite you.

We always joke that the 9th inning is where you really have to focus because if you get that hit in your last at-bat your average will stay high.

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