Padres Prospect Interview: Mike Baxter

Plan the work and work the plan. That is what San Diego Padres prospect Mike Baxter credits to his higher walk totals, lower strikeout numbers and incredible RBI tally in the Arizona Fall League.

Talk about the Arizona Fall League experience.

Mike Baxter: I had a great time in Arizona. It was a pretty good experience playing with other organizations and playing against some top players from around the league. Luckily enough, I was surrounded by pretty intelligent people that helped me out.

You had 24 RBI in 22 games – how were you able to keep that consistent approach despite playing only twice a week.

Mike Baxter: Towards the end I starting playing a little bit more. That was nice. But you know, just getting the work in in the morning. The thing was – I was focusing on certain things out there, so I really had a purpose in practice that I was taking in the morning, in the cages, and during BP. So I think that kind of kept me locked in, because I was actually working on something rather than just taking regular swings.

You halved your strikeout numbers from the previous year. How was such a transformation made possible?

Mike Baxter: It comes from the plan that we have here and the philosophy that we run here – working counts, seeing pitches, trying to identify the pitches you like and handle that. Over time, I've tried to put that to use and I think it's already become a little bit more evident in my peripheral stats.

Seeing better pitches to hit, do you feel like you are on the cusp of a breakout performance?

Mike Baxter: I feel like I am. I'm really happy with the way that last year ended, and that's really all I have to go off of right now. I took the lessons that I learned in the fall into the offseason, and now I'm trying to translate that into a full season. That's what it's going to take.

There had been talk of moving you to catcher. Have you seen any time behind the plate?

Mike Baxter: I've been catching. I caught some instructs games and I've been catching bullpens [throughout Spring Training]. But I'm not sure if it's a full-time role or if it's a utility role, but I'm open-minded to it.

So you would be open to catching if the Padres asked that of you?

Mike Baxter: Oh yeah, that's fine.

What will be the key to a successful 2009 season?

Mike Baxter: Consistency – putting together a solid year, the year I know I could have. The past two or three full seasons that I pieced together for months at a time or half at a time. Start strong, end strong.

Aside from consistency, it's just – the numbers that we're talking about – walks, strikeouts. Just apply the plan that we're working on. That's what they want to see, and I feel like I'm starting to have better command of that.

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