Padres Prospect Interview: Chad Huffman

Chad Huffman wanted to stick to his plan this season, regardless of the count or the situation. He came away with his lowest power totals to date but has a few key phrases he believes will help him in coming seasons. Huffman is slated to go to the Arizona Fall League to continue his baseball education.

Talk to me about the season. Did you met your own expectations and, where do you go from here?

Chad Huffman: My main focus this year was to never give an at-bat away. Sometimes it's tough, later on in the game, especially in the games that matter, you kind of go up there and not be focused. I try to go in there and play every pitch; be focused for every pitch was my main goal coming into this season.

You were back in Double-A after seeing it the latter half of last year. Is there any difference when you come back after seeing a little bit of time?

Chad Huffman: I felt more comfortable. I knew what to expect when we go travel to other stadiums; I knew what the stadiums are like. As far as playing wise, I just felt like you adjust; every pitcher is different, so you can't really save expectations from the pitchers you've seen in the past.

Is there a frustration level playing your home games here where the wind is blowing in? It's pretty significant.

Chad Huffman: Absolutely, this is a very tough place to hit. I feel like you can hit here, but as far as hitting for power, it's a little tougher to do here. There are a lot of guys on this team that should have a lot more home runs. That's just the way the game is. The wind blows for them too. You just kind of have to stay focused and not really worry about the things you can't control like the elements of the field.

When people are looking, and this goes up to the Padres' brass too, they're saying ‘why did this guy only hit 10 homeruns when we expected 20' or whatever the number is?

Chad Huffman: I don't know what they think about that. Hopefully, they know, they've been here before. You've just got to keep playing the best you can and just try and get it done.

You've been playing left field a lot. Has there been any talk of you transitioning maybe over to right field a little bit more?

Chad Huffman: I've played a few games in right this year. As far as transitioning like that, I really have no idea about stuff; I just, wherever they put me in the lineup. I work both sides in BP in case that ever does come up, I am able to play a position and still feel comfortable. But, whatever they show that day, whether I'm in right field, left field, it's where I'm going to play. I'm not really too concerned about that, as long as I'm hitting.

How closely aligned is playing quarterback and throwing the ball from the outfield?

Chad Huffman: It's completely different, completely different. Football is a little short arm action; almost throwing a two seamer. I guess a two seamer for baseball is kind of like throwing a football. It's a lot different; you get your arm a lot more extend. I'm working on that and I think I've gotten a lot better since day one, since I started playing professional baseball.

When you say you've gotten better, is that the strength, the accuracy?

Chad Huffman: Yeah, arm strength. I think I've always been fairly accurate. I can throw it accurately. The arm strength is getting a lot better simply because I'm getting my arm extended more; just learning to throw the baseball.

Now, working the cage everything in spring training and probably dating back to last year at some point has been "topspin" and all of these catch phrase terms. When you're hearing it, does it help you? It's almost like you're at the cage of a UFC bout here; someone's giving you a little bit of information on the side. Do you even hear it?

Chad Huffman: Absolutely. You hear it, you understand it, but you've got to take what works for you. A key phrase is "backspin" might help one guy, but "to it through it" might be the next guy's. That might be his thing to do. Me, I like to say "to it through it"; I like to see it through it. Get extended and hit through the ball. That's what helps me the most.

So, when you go back now into a game and all of this stuff you're working on in BP and trying to get better on. How easy is it to just drop it and just go ‘you know what? This is my at-bat here. I have to focus on this pitcher; I can't focus on all the little things going through my brain.'

Chad Huffman: If you start thinking about little things in your mechanics at the plate, you're finished; I mean you really have almost no chance of getting a hit. You go up there and just kind of react. You can't really think and see pitches exactly; you have to react. It's not really, you can't mentally break down the pitch when it's coming; it's just too quick of a time.

So is that the toughest thing then, getting out of a slump, because, that's going on probably in your brain at the time?

Chad Huffman: The toughest thing when you're in a slump, you have so many negative thoughts. The faster you can overcome those negative thoughts, the faster you'll get out of a slump. Everybody's done it and I don't care if you played in little league, or not. When you're at the plate and you're 0-2 you're going to start throwing red flags out, thinking "oh my gosh, I'm going to strike out here, I'm already 0-2; umpire called a strike that wasn't a strike." You've got to battle and just kind of get over that eventually.

After you strike out looking, you look back at the umpire. Is that normal for you?

Chad Huffman: I always look back at the umpire. Honestly, you know what; I'll give the good pitches it every time. If he does that every time, I'll give that to him. This one pitcher I faced in high school and college, McCormick, threw one fastball for a strike that was 96 MPH, low and away for 3-2, strike three. The previous time he threw a slider, or curveball. I came up with a plan, and I stuck with my plan. Sometimes, you've just got to say, ‘hey, good job.'

Even though, at 3-2 count, that's pretty tough. You can go either way. Now, on an 0-2 count, how does the plan change? It's a protective mode, like you were saying with the negative thoughts. Can you stick to the plan?

Chad Huffman: That's the hard part, is know you've got to stick to your plan, not deviate from a plan because of those negative thoughts in your head. If you can just eliminate those period, because sometimes when you're 0-2, you're feeling good. When you're going good and you're 0-2, you're ‘0-2, I'm not going to strike out against this guy; this guy has nothing to beat me. This guy can't beat me with any of his pitches.'

That's what you've got to think always. It's tough to always keep that because in baseball you play ever day. If you can keep that as much as you can, the more successful you're going to be.

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