Padres Prospect Interview: Aaron Murphree

PEORIA, AZ-- Aaron Murphree got off to a sluggish start to his professional career but hit well towards the end of the year, showing tremendous pop in his 6-foo-5 frame. The San Diego Padres prospect is hoping the work he put in this offseason translates to even more success.

You are obviously someone with big-time power. How much do you have to change mechanically to be successful in the professional ranks?

Aaron Murphree: This is a big spring training for me to make my swing consistently shorter. I worked a lot last year with Skub (Bob Skube) and got it a lot shorter, but I need to be consistent with that swing this year.

You hit extremely well with runners on base. Is there a different mindset for you when you come to the plate with runners on?

Aaron Murphree: I want to come through for my teammates - do whatever I can to help us get a win. That is what it is all about, winning ball games. Of course, on the other side, make sure you are making your steps towards moving up and progressing in the system.

You hit well off right-handers but struggled some against left-handers. What do you need to do to see better success off southpaws?

Aaron Murphree: That surprised me too. I think I got a slow start to left-handers and didn't see too many of them last year in the Arizona League. I kind of got off to a slow start. It was weird for me. Usually, I have had success off left-handed pitchers. I saw that and have been reminded of it. It was weird but perhaps due to lack of seeing them. You had quite a few sacrifice flies last year. How important are those productive outs?

Aaron Murphree: I think it is pretty important, especially in spots in the game where that is all you need to get a run across home. I try to, as well as my teammates, change the approach a little bit in those situations. If we get a ball up, try and drive it deep to get that guy in.

You played left field, right field and even saw a game at first base. What are the challenges of moving between different positions?

Aaron Murphree: It wasn't too bad. We all tried to move from place to place to see a lot of fly balls in batting practice to get the different angles off the bat. It wasn't too much of an issue. I was happy to be there and happy to be playing every day. Loving life.

You mentioned this spring is a big deal for you to show consistency. Do you feel like, as a later round draft pick, that there is added pressure on you to perform?

Aaron Murphree: I do feel like there is a little bit of pressure on me. I try not to worry about it. Like the guys running this place said, 'Once the draft that happens, you can take that and put it behind you because everyone is in the same spot.' I try not to think too much about it and just do my job, be a good teammate and good guy in the clubhouse - be a guy everyone likes and go about my business of getting better and moving up as quickly as possible.

You got a chance to see live batting practice before getting into the game situations. How vital is that to your preparation?

Aaron Murphree: It is very important. A lot of guys go home in the offseason and might swing 400 times a day but you are not presented with the opportunity to step in against a quality pitcher on a live mound in a perfect game situation. It is big to get in there, take your pitches, get your timing back. Over the course of the offseason, you do get a little rusty.

How important will pitch selection be to the overall improvement of your game?

Aaron Murphree: Pitch selection will be very big. Once I feel like I can take control of every at-bat and sit on every pitch a guy is throwing me - every hittable pitch and driveable pitch - making solid contact by swinging at those pitches and attacking those. It is something I continue to work on every day and get better at each day.

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