Padres Prospect Interview: Jaff Decker

San Diego Padres prospect Jaff Decker has goals. It is evident in his quick assimilation to professional baseball and reiterated at each step along the way. Given his performance, it is easy to see him attaining the heights he seeks.

You earned MVP honors of the Arizona Rookie League. What was that feeling like?

Jaff Decker: It is a good feeling. I had a lot of support from my family being here in town/ I live 10 minutes away from here. I felt like I was seeing the ball really well, and it was a really great feeling to do it here in my hometown.

You had a .520 on-base percentage during the season. Was there a tendency to want to be more aggressive with men on base where you are trying to make something happen?

Jaff Decker: A little bit and there will be that more and more as I get moved up. Pitchers throw more strikes so you have to be more aggressive for the strikes you do see.

My whole philosophy is seeing that one pitch and hitting it and taking all the others ones that are off the plate.

You go up to Eugene and get in three games. In that third game, you get hit in the hand. Is this my new league?

Jaff Decker: It wasn't a very good feeling. I came in and was seeing the ball well. I got two hits in the first game and didn't see another fastball. It was a real struggle and getting hit summed it in the last two games. But, it was a lot of fun to go up there and see the crowds – besides my family.

People have always thrown out the Matt Stairs comparison in regards to you. Are you sick of it?

Jaff Decker: A little bit, but being compared to a major leaguer who has had a lot of time and a lot of success – it is almost an honor to be compared to somebody like that. At the same time, I want to make my own statement.

You went out to the Padres Instructional League. Was there something you wanted to work on or the Padres wanted you to work on?

Jaff Decker: Seeing the ball, getting more at-bats. I was getting tired there since I hadn't played in that many games before. It went well. They said they didn't want to change anything until we need to.

With your approach, it can be a catch-22. We know you want to get on base and no one can complain about that. At the same time, the thinking goes to, ‘If I can drive this run in instead of getting this walk.' Is that tough mentally to sit back and wait and look for that one pitch?

Jaff Decker: It is a lot like that. It is kind of frustrating but at the same time I have faith in my teammates behind me. I was always taught it is about getting on base. If you get that pitch, you are going to hit it. You only get one pitch in the pros. You want to make sure you hit it. That is how I got brought up and was taught to hit.

Who does the credit go to for such an advanced approach at such a young age? Most kids are being taught to put the elbow up and swing.

Jaff Decker: A lot of that goes to my dad and my stepdad. They have coaches me since I was four years old and we worked together.

My dad is a big part of what I have done and where I have come from. They told me to wait on it. ‘They have to throw you three pitches to get you out. Wait for that one.'

Next year, you will be moving up in the system and won't have that family buffer. Have you thought about that and how it might be the first time you are on your own?

Jaff Decker: A little bit. I did go to Venezuela a couple of years ago. That was a real experience, being on my own and in a different country. It was a lot of fun. I will miss my parents, but I have a goal and it is to make it to the majors. This is what I have to do.

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