Padres Prospect Interview: Matt Clark

Matt Clark has a family member in the business. His father is a coach in Double-A and it has given him a sense of what is needed to reach his ultimate goal – reaching San Diego to play for the Padres.

You had a bit of a layoff before going to Eugene to begin your professional career. I hear you got to workout with Frisco between the end of the College World Series and going to Eugene.

Matt Clark: Oh yeah, I was with my dad's team in Double-A Frisco for the Rangers for three weeks. I was working out with the team, doing everything but playing in the games. So it was good, getting some of my work in, being ready to come out to Eugene and do what I've got to do.

You go from aluminum to wood and obviously you have some experience with the wood. Is it a little bit interesting getting used to it again?

Matt Clark: No, not really. It's just as long as you don't change anything, it doesn't change a whole lot. It's always different swinging a wood, but you have to get used to it sometime.

Obviously in the aluminum bat world, it doesn't really matter if it's a breaking ball or a fastball. Maybe with the wood, it does a little bit more. Now the pitch selection becomes even more important. In the Padres system that's preached - a huge thing. How does that play into your game?

Matt Clark: Good, I've always hit a lot of mistake pitches and being able to not miss that one pitch you know you're supposed to hit in that at bat, whether it be a fastball or a breaking ball. Just being able to put good barrel on it and not miss it when it's thrown over the plate because these guys are good and they'll get you out if you swing at bad pitches. So, being disciplined is a big part of it.

You hit 29 bombs last year for LSU. Known as a power guy, is that the true strength of your game?

Matt Clark: Yeah, I'm a big guy; play first base. If you hit for power, that's where they're going to put you. You don't, then you're out of a job.

Had you considered going back to college too?

Matt Clark: No, I didn't really consider going back. I was just kind of waiting around to make the deal right. I wasn't going back for my senior year, though.

You have a great background. You have a dad who is a coach. Talk a little bit about your dad and how he's been able to help you through this process.

Matt Clark: Yeah, I just give him all the credit for what I've done. He works with me endlessly and never complained throwing batting practice to me; throw until his arm fell off if he had too. Being around him, being around the game for so long has just helped me in every aspect of my game.

Were you able to lean on some of the guys there in Double-A Frisco too?

Matt Clark: Yeah, definitely. They've played in this league and I asked them a couple of questions; the ins and outs and all the higher levels too, you know, here to Double-A. So they've been there and I asked them how it was. They said nothing but good things so far.

So, what do you look forward to?

Matt Clark: Just getting out and playing and trying to get some positive things to happen.

When you look back, looking at the major leagues, is there a guy who plays in the majors that you've always respected for his work on and off the field?

Matt Clark: I kind of respect every guy who has played in the big leagues because obviously they're doing something right to get there and they're working hard at something. Not every guy is given God given ability to get there, so a lot of guys have to work their way up. Not really one guy in particular, but just in general it's pretty awesome what they do.

Is there a weakness in your game, maybe an area that just needs improvement?

Matt Clark: Just trying to find the ins and outs with the wood bat so if I just keep doing what I do here and hit the ball the other way, then they're going to have to come inside and I can hit the ball out to right and left. Just being able to adjust a little bit to the pitching. That will just be the deciding factor.

You got to experience the College World Series, obviously pretty awesome. Talk a little bit about that and kind of just how that's helped you mature through this too.

Matt Clark: Just playing in the SEC in general has helped me mature as a player. Being able to face guys that are drafted in the first round pitching; day in day out, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, there's no breaks in the SEC. And then going to the College World Series; you've got the best guys in the whole country there. If you can perform at that level, I'm pretty confident I can do it at this level too.

What was the atmosphere like out there?

Matt Clark: It was pretty awesome. It was electric. People, the fans, everybody was into it. It's everything on the line right there; your whole season, all the work you did. Just laying it out there, it was a good time.

So, which one do you put ahead, going to the College World Series or getting drafted?

Matt Clark: I don't know. I've always wanted to play professional baseball, so it's definitely got to be the draft and getting up here. But that was still one of the top five of all time in my life.

Talk about your work around the bag. How do you feel out there defensively at first base?

Matt Clark: Good, great. I feel great defensively right now and will hopefully keep it that way. I played good at LSU. I think I only made one or two errors all year. Just adjust to the field and getting reads off the wood bat is what I was basically doing out there. But other than that I feel pretty confident.

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