Padres Prospect Interview: Luis Durango

For the first time in 11 years, a Eugene Emeralds player won the batting title. Luis Durango shattered the team record for hits, pounding out 110 and fell three shy of the Northwest League record. The Padres can't help but take notice – a prospect that has won three straight batting titles.

Fan favorite in Eugene, Luis Durango.

Luis Durango: I felt good this year. I am very thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to play baseball. I felt comfortable because we had a lot of fans and I wanted to play hard and work hard everyday to get better.

How nice was it to be out of Arizona?

Luis Durango: It was very much different. It was nice to be out here since Arizona was so hot. It was a much nicer climate out here. Also, the league was better here. We don't have a lot of competition out there. In Eugene, it was different because the pitching is better and can throw breaking balls, changeups and everything for strikes. In Arizona they would throw the same pitch. It is better for me to play because I can get to the next level next year.

Do you look at the positioning of the fielders before you decide where you want to hit the ball?

Luis Durango: Yes, I do look at the alignment of the fielders. If they are going to play me every time with the infield in, I can hit the ball to the big space in the field where there is a lot of room behind them. Every time I am looking for contact and to get it over their heads if they play in.

You also have a few homers and the outfield has traditionally been playing in. While you want to hit in on the ground a lot, do you also look to sneak it past the outfielders?

Luis Durango: When the outfielder is playing too shallow I want to hit it hard and get it over their head. If I can get a line drive that gets past them. They know me and they play in, looking towards one side. I look to the other side then. If you play one side I look to the other side and hit the ball hard over their head.

How difficult is it to work with some umpires that call strikes that you don't think are strikes?

Luis Durango: Sometimes you get very good umpires and sometimes you get bad umpires. They have big strike zones but we have to hit how they have the zone. I can't fight with the umpire or I would be crazy. I look for a fastball down at my knees and try and hit it hard. If they are calling pitches strikes on balls that are high we have to adjust.

Talk about how your approach changes with two strikes.

Luis Durango: When I have two strikes I choke up my bat and I want to put the ball on the ground and in play and run hard.

Is concentration something you need to improve upon – there was a day when you stopped running while there were two outs in a game I saw.

Luis Durango: I thought there was one out on that fly ball. I froze at second base and I didn't look at my coach. My coach called me in after the game and told me I had to run hard with two outs and look at him for guidance.

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