Padres Draft Interview: Matt Gaski

Leaving a powerhouse like Florida didn't mar the draft chances of Matt Gaski. He parlayed success at a smaller school – coached by his dad – into being selected by the San Diego Padres.

What was the feeling like after seeing your name pop up and maybe hearing about it from a scout a few minutes later – you were just drafted by the San Diego Padres.

Matt Gaski: It was definitely one of the coolest moments I have had in my baseball career. I got to spend the time with my family and friends – it was a real special moment. I am looking forward to getting started.

Getting drafted by the Padres has been my best moment and a close second was getting to play in the Omaha in Nebraska my freshman year against Texas. Those two are the moments that definitely stick out.

Did you see your name before you got drafted?

Matt Gaski: I did. A bunch of friends and I were out here sitting at our pool and it popped up and I had not even seen it and everyone went crazy. It was a real cool moment. It was really surprising and really fun.

Can you explain the energy that goes on out there in Omaha?

Matt Gaski: It is unbelievable. We played our second round game against Nebraska. They were a home team out there. Of the 28,000, almost all of them were wearing Nebraska colors. It was a football atmosphere and the excitement takes a game to another level with all the adrenaline going.

Talk about your game and some of the strengths of your game.

Matt Gaski: I would consider myself to be a defensive first player. I have always taken a lot of pride in my defense.

I think one thing that helped me this year is I made a lot of strides offensively, hitting a lot better than I had in my career.

My game is about getting on base, having a low strikeout total and playing solid everyday defense and being consistent – something I try and make sure I can do.

You mentioned making strides offensively. What were the changes you made to see those kinds of results?

Matt Gaski: In the off-season I went and played in Minnesota in a really good league against good competition, playing everyday and hitting with the wood bat. Getting into the weight room and swinging the wood bat more helped and just working on all parts of my offensive game more than I had in the past. It paid off during the season.

You are a guy that drew more walks than he struck out. Is that something you have always had – that keen batting eye?

Matt Gaski: That is one thing I have always taken pride in offensively, being a guy that is going to go up there and have a good at-bat. I may not hit for as much power but I go up there and hit for average and find a way to get on base somehow.

You spent two years at Florida before transferring in. Was there something specific that made you go to UNC-Greensboro?

Matt Gaski: It was a combination of some things. It really wasn't the right situation for me down there anymore. I was playing all over the place and really didn't known when I was going to be in the starting lineup and when I wasn't. It got to the point where I felt like I wasn't having where everyone was being completely honest with me.

I sat down with my family after my sophomore year and it seemed to get to the point where I had to be somewhere else where I could be more comfortable. UNC=Greensboro – with my dad coaching there – was something I was familiar with and comfortable with.

How was working so closely with your dad on the baseball field and separating out the emotion to make it a coach and player relationship?

Matt Gaski: We sat down before I made that decision and we kind of determined that when he would talk about anything baseball related, he was going to be my coach. When we get off the field, he is my dad again. We really tried to keep a real distinction of how we were on and off the field. It worked out really well.

I was real nervous at first about it. I think it worked out really well.

What is it about the game of baseball you love so much?

Matt Gaski: I grew up playing it my whole life. My dad has been a coach for 30 years and it is something I have always been around. I fell in love with it and I want to play for as long as I can.

Do you consider yourself to be a gap-to-gap hitter?

Matt Gaski: Definitely. I think I hit for more power than I ever have this year, but I am not the guy who is going to go out there and try and hit the ball over everyone's head. I just try to find holes, hit in situations and work in the center of the field and work out from there.

Does that include being aggressive on the base paths?

Matt Gaski: I always try and be as good a base runner as I can and pick up whatever tendencies I can on the pitcher to take a base when you can on someone.

You mentioned your defense early on. What is it about your defense that you like and can you move around as well?

Matt Gaski: I have played second and third at Florida, second and short in summer ball and shortstop my last two years. I feel comfortable at all three. It is something that always came naturally for me. It is one of the parts of my game I take pride in.

Is there an area of your game that could stand to see a little bit of improvement

Matt Gaski: I think it is going to be really important that I work on my speed and work on my strength. I know the game changes so much, especially after playing summer ball with wood. With the aluminum bat, you can hit and it goes no matter what. With the wooden bat, you have to be strong and get something behind it every time you swing it.

Is the goal to sign as soon as possible?

Matt Gaski: That is the plan. I had to finish up a few things back home, getting the stuff done with the scouts and want to be out there as soon as possible. I was sitting for two and a half weeks so am ready to get back out there.

I am enjoying the moment right now.

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