Padres Prospect Interview: Angel Mercado

Angel Mercado had a terrific spring, earning a starting nod in Fort Wayne. After some midseason struggles, he found himself trying to regain his stroke in Eugene while playing a new position.

You started out in Fort Wayne and ended up in Eugene. Was that a little bit of a disappointment for you?

Angel Mercado: No, it's not. I came back to Eugene to work harder so I can get back over there. Maybe next year I can go to Elsinore or Fort Wayne. Just keep working hard.

You started in the outfield and at third base for Eugene. In spring training you were at first base. Is that to get the bat in the lineup?

Angel Mercado: They're always moving people around so they can get more at-bats. Over in Eugene, I was playing third base. I started playing first base and the outfield so I can play ever day.

What was third base like? How different is that than anything you've seen?

Angel Mercado: It's just like you've got to be more in the game. Outfield, it's like you've got to be in the game, but third base you've got to watch out because you've got more balls to catch. You've got to be more aggressive over there.

Is the toughest thing the responsibilities? Because, you've got to know when to come in, when the pitcher's supposed to get the ball, when this, that, and the other thing.

Angel Mercado: Yeah, you've got more responsibility. You've got to, in game situations, anticipate everything. Like what kind of situation you're going to be in. It's different.

What's the toughest thing, do you think about it?

Angel Mercado: The toughest thing is slow ground balls in front, bare handing it and throwing it to first base. That's the toughest thing to do.

It looks so easy when you see it on T.V.

Angel Mercado: It's not easy when you do it.

What about when you get it, you throw to first, it's a good throw. Is that like a sense of accomplishment?

Angel Mercado: Yeah, you just think ‘Oh my God, that was good.' Most of the throws, when you catch the ball barehanded, you let it fly over to first base. But, when I made it, I feel fine.

So, talk about your hitting a little bit. Have you made changes up there in the box?

Angel Mercado: They just changed my stride, so I hit it a little bit more on my back.

I noticed that, I was going to ask you, it didn't look like you were going forward as much as you used to.

Angel Mercado: No, they just want me to stay back at all times.

How has that been for you? Is it comfortable?

Angel Mercado: At the beginning it wasn't that comfortable. I just kept working and working and then you get used to it and start doing it like you've done it before.

Have you seen the advantages of doing that?

Angel Mercado: For me, I feel like I can hit the ball farther and stronger.

You hit a bunch of home runs between Ft. Wayne and Eugene right now. One of the big things, we even talked about in spring training, is you want to hit more. Do you get almost into a rhythm where you almost want to hit too many and then you end up doing bad?

Angel Mercado: Every time I just try to hit the ball, get a good pitch to hit. The balls sometimes fly; I hit it out of the field, that's fine. But, I just try to make good contact, get a good pitch to hit.

How have you felt you've been doing as far as pitch selection is concerned?

Angel Mercado: In Eugene, it's a different level. They throw more breaking balls. The pitchers are not consistent in the strike zone. It's tougher in Eugene than in Fort Wayne. You've just got to get your pitch right in the middle.

Why is that? Shouldn't it be the opposite? I mean, that's up a level. You'd figure they just want to get ahead; they're trying to throw that fastball.

Angel Mercado: In Eugene, pitchers are just trying to work on their mechanics, their command of the fastball; it's tougher for the hitter.

So, that has you chasing out of the zone when you shouldn't be.

Angel Mercado: Sometimes. Sometimes you get to aggressive, you want to hit the ball hard and you swing at bad pitches sometimes.

What changes for you when you see men out there in scoring position?

Angel Mercado: You've got to be patient, but at the same time you've got to be aggressive. If you've got a pitcher on the mound who doesn't throw many strikes, you've got to be patient, but at the same time you've got be aggressive, ok, he's going to leave you one ball in the middle.

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