Padres Prospect Interview: Dan Robertson

MadFriars.com Hitter of the Year Dan Robertson did it all in his debut season, skipping the San Diego Padres Instructional League because of his advanced all-around game.

I know you are a humble kid as a guy who enjoys doing his job and being low-key. You go out and break a record that stood since 1972. You get the 114th hit – what was that accomplishment like for you?

Dan Robertson: It is something you don't think about – it really hit me when I hit the ball down the line and was trying to get on second because the game was on the line, we were in a playoff race with the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth.

It didn't really hit me until they announced what had happened and 5,000 people – many who had been there all year – gave me a standing ovation.

That was something I had never been a part of and was something I really got to sit back and take in. It was a humbling experience. But, that is another great thing about baseball – and something you can cherish that much more.

Was there something about Civic Stadium that had you seeing the ball so well? You hit over .420 at home – and there was nothing to sneeze about on the road where you hit around .320 – but was there something special about hitting at home and made you feel comfortable.

Dan Robertson: To be completely honest, and obviously the stats didn't show this, I felt that Civic Stadium was the hardest stadium I had ever played at.

You are playing in a park where the shadows aren't very fun and facing tough pitching day in and day out.

It was an ongoing joke with guys on the team. My roommate, Sawyer Carroll, and I talked about how difficult it was to hit on the road and I was saying how tough it was to hit at home. They were telling me to shut up because the stats were what they were, but, in all honesty, I thought it was so hard to hit at home. It was tough with all those shadows.

I guess I was able to see a few fastballs and put my bat on it and hope good things would happen.

One of the things that Grady Fuson said when we were talking about the Instructional League and we asked why Dan Robertson wasn't on the roster, he said, ‘His game needs very little maintenance. He's short to the ball, understands the zone, tracks balls and has a good arm. There are just so many things in his game to like.' It has to feel pretty rewarding to hear all that.

Dan Robertson: Grady is a great guy. I got a chance to meet everyone, including Chief Gayton (scouting director) along the way and to hear something like that from Grady was rewarding.

I was a guy that they picked in the 33rd round, signed for 1,000 bucks. It is the guys that got taken high that he sticks his neck out for as far as really reaching into your pocket to dish out some cash. I think the opportunity he gave me – I took it as an opportunity to show him it really doesn't matter what round you get taken – you have a chance and you have to want it. For him to say something like that was amazing.

To be honest, I read a lot of the ‘Baseball America's' and I am not getting any love in any prospect sort of thing. In a way, he told all these guys that write all these articles that they really don't know about player development. The words he said made it so much more special and accomplished.

You had a chance to bat leadoff to begin the year and then moved down to second when Blake Tekotte got there. What were the differences for you and how you approached it. It seemed like in the leadoff spot you saw more pitches and when you were batting second your aggressiveness hit a new level.

Dan Robertson: When I was in the leadoff spot, I listed to coaches such as Tony Muser (roving hitting instructor). I have always been an aggressive hitter but the way they preach it in our system – to stay patiently aggressive – I felt that with the way that I can run and move around on the bases because of the guys behind me, I could afford to see a lot of pitches.

We had these signs in our locker room, ‘The more pitches you see, the more pitches your teammates see.' I felt it was necessary for me to do those things, have good at-bats, get my teammates ready for their at-bats, to try and get on base and be a fire-starter.

When I was moved into the two-hole, I was watching Blake's (Tekotte) at-bat and seeing what pitches he was seeing. I felt I could be more aggressive in the two-hole because they weren't going to pitch around me when we have guys like James Darnell, Matt Clark and Sawyer Carroll. We had guys like that waiting behind me. I was able to look for a good pitch to hit.

It was something I really enjoyed and looked forward to – hitting out of the two-hole.

How does the off-season change for you now that you are likely done with school and can focus on preparation for full-season baseball as a professional?

Dan Robertson: Actually, I am taking classes right now. I am definitely not used to the time off. I get out of class and then go workout a little bit.

I have the workout plan that the Padres gave me and it started up this past week, trying to time it right so I am peaking right as we go into the season. So, when I step on the field in February or March, I am ready to go and don't need anything from a conditioning level. I am looking forward to spring. It is going to be a great opportunity to learn from all of the guys there.

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