Padres Prospect Interview: Chadd Hartman

Fort Wayne, IN: The tornado picked up Chadd Hartman in the 43rd-round of the 2009 MLB Draft when the San Diego Padres selected him. It promptly spun him to Eugene before depositing him in Fort Wayne.

A part-time starter for Central Florida, Hartman turned down a chance to go pro out of high school. He was selected by the Cleveland Indians but decided to go to college instead.

It was a difficult choice but one he is happy he made. In his second game in Eugene, Hartman cranked one over the fence for his first professional homer.

After sitting through his first few games as a member of the TinCaps, Hartman got the call in the bottom of the eighth – a pinch-hit appearance in place of Blake Tekotte. He stroked one up the middle for a base hit.

In your first at-bat in Fort Wayne, you collect a hard base hit up the middle. That had to feel pretty good.

Chadd Hartman: A little anxious, a little nervous at first. The first swing – it was there but I took a bad swing at it. I had to calm myself down. On 2-1, he threw me a pitch and I got a good bat on it.

Your second game in Eugene brings you a homer. It seems you are rising to the occasion.

Chadd Hartman: My big thing is to calm down and allow my natural ability to fly. Things will happen. If I do too much, that is when I get in trouble. Look for a good pitch and put a good swing on it – whatever happens, happens.

You get drafted in the 43rd-round – how does it feel to be part of the San Diego Padres organization?

Chadd Hartman: It is an honor. It has been my dream ever since I was a little kid. They gave me an opportunity. I am going to do my best not to let them down.

Right now, I am the underdog. There really isn't any pressure on me because I don't have a lot of expectation to live up to. That will help me in the long run.

It seems like at UCF you didn't necessarily get a chance to start all the time but the Padres saw something. What is it about your game that made the Padres say, ‘we want this kid'?

Chadd Hartman: My athleticism. I have always had that. I have not had any major injuries. College – that is the past. They are giving me a chance. Someone above believes I can contribute to the team and the organization. That is the way I am looking at it right now.

What is it you need to work on to become a better player?

Chadd Hartman: Anything I can learn is going to help. It is an ongoing process. Even guys in the majors – All-Stars – there is still learning going on.

Anything I can learn with hitting, outfield with jumps, working on speed – anything to help out.

Is there a particular strength of your game that doesn't need work?

Chadd Hartman: My heart and hustle. I put everything I have in every play. That will help me in the long run because I am focused. I am kind of like a David Eckstein you could say – always flying around. Sometimes you have to calm me down but that is the way I play.

You were selected by Cleveland out of high school. What was the maturation process for you from high school through college?

Chadd Hartman: It is a different game from high school to college. I think if I went into pro ball right out of high school I would have struggled a lot.

College provided life opportunities, time management and even seeing better pitching. I think going to college really helped me, even though it was a lot of money that I turned down. I think I made the right decision and don't regret it.

What role will pitch selection play in your ultimate success?

Chadd Hartman: A real big part. Last year in college I had a lot of pinch-hits. Any pitch that was close to hit I was swinging at.

Now, I have to select pitches to drive instead of pitches to hit. That way – a ball up in the zone could be hittable but it might be a pitcher's pitch. Make him throw it down – I want to hit my pitch not their pitch.

Seeing you in batting practice, do you feel like there are times where you get a little long and are looking for that long ball?

Chadd Hartman: A little bit. That is one of the things I need to calm down with. Instead of looking for the long ball, I need focus on driving the ball – even in BP. If I am hitting one-hoppers through the infield – at least I am showing I am staying on top of the ball and driving it. When I get long and try and drive it is when I get in trouble.

Sometimes in the heat of the moment – it gets long. I am mature enough now that I can take the approach into the game to stay on top of the ball and drive it.

You worked in left field on Saturday and I am not sure of your history. How do you feel at all three outfield positions?

Chadd Hartman: I feel comfortable. A fly ball is a fly ball. There are different angles but I played left field my sophomore year and played right field pretty much the rest of my life. I snagged some in center too. Wherever they want me to play is fine with me.

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