Padres Draft Interview: Kevin Winn

Kevin Winn has the kind of spunk that will drive the opposition mad. It is one of the reasons the San Diego Padres thought so highly of him and plucked him in the 2009 MLB Draft.

Congratulations on being drafted by the Padres in the 26th-round. Can you talk a little bit about that and the feeling that it gave you.

Kevin Winn: I just wanted the chance to play. I was excited and really just looking at who was going to give me a chance. Its always been a lifelong dream of mine, obviously, like most kids. It was a pretty amazing feeling to hear my name come across on draft day. I'm happy with the Padres. I really like the organization a lot.

So what kind of player is the Padres getting out of Kevin Winn?

Kevin Winn: I'm probably not the biggest guy. I'm not the fastest guy, but I probably made it as far as I did because of work ethic and attitude. I like to consider myself one of those guys that plays the game the right way. I always make sure that I'm giving 100% all of the time. That's the one thing that I can control. I can't control when I hit a line drive and whether or not it gets caught, but I can control whether I'm running hard on and off the field and diving to get to the balls that I can.

One other thing that you seem to control is the strike zone. You don't strike out a lot. You only stuck out 10 or 11 times in over 200 at-bats. Talk a little bit about that. Do you feel like there's going to come a time when you draw even more walks?

Kevin Winn: I think that that's always been one of my strong points. I've always had a pretty decent eye and I've really learned this year that you've just got to be patient and wait for a good pitch to hit. If they don't give it to me, I'm not going to swing. I feel like I make pretty good contact that even if I take a strike it's OK, and sometimes if you take that first pitch or that strike then they'll throw four balls in a row. I just learned to be more disciplined at the plate and hopefully I'll keep improving on that. The more walks the better because that means I'm seeing the ball really well and I can swing at better pitches and not chase a lot of junk.

When did you feel like you had a chance to go on and play baseball in the professional ranks?

Kevin Winn: This past summer. I had a chance to go up and play in the Alaska baseball leagues. I worked with Bobby Randall who was a an ex major-leaguer who played for the Minnesota Twins. He was our hitting coach and he worked with me a lot. We smoothed out my swing and seeing the ball better and taking more pitches. I had some success and hit .295 up there this summer and made second team all-Alaska and it's a pretty advanced league. So with that I thought ‘You know if I could hit close to .300 up here I could probably do that in pro-ball.' Then I came back to school and had a real good fall. I was healthy all year and started thinking ‘maybe I can do this'.

So what player in the Major leagues today do you emulate?

Kevin Winn: Growing up I really liked Mike Sweeney with the Kansas City Royals. I really admired the way that he prepared and how he handled himself on and off the field. Even though he's not a second baseman, I really like the way that he handles himself ,and being a Christian guy, it made a big impact on me to see him being outspoken about his faith.

How has your dad been able to help you through this process?

Kevin Winn: Growing up, I traveled with my dad a lot. I was able to watch a lot of pro-games and high school games and I think that the stuff I learned as a little kid really helped me a lot when I got older. I don't think that I was really surprised by the whole draft process and the whole college process, being recruited and all like that.

Also, my dad really loved the game, so through him I've acquired a love of the game. It's made it easier to go out there every single day and know that I'm doing something that I love. That's the biggest part for me. I just love what I'm doing and I'm just happy that I get a chance to keep doing it a little while longer.

Your brother Dennis got drafted by the Phillies. Can he help you assimilate to minor league baseball?

Kevin Winn: I spoke with him about the draft and I called him after I got drafted to ask him, ‘OK where do I go from here?' It's kind of nice to have someone to lean on like that. He lets me know that you keep getting chances, that it's a grind and he's played a big role too on just trying to fill me in on what to expect and is one more person to help make the transition a little smoother.

What do you look forward to the most in going into professional baseball?

Kevin Winn: First off, it's the accumulation of a lifelong goal and just being able to get the chance to play. But I'm excited that it's going to be what I do for a living, and not having to pay to play baseball but it‘s actually my job. Getting out there and pursuing my dream is the biggest thing for me.

How much have you matured over the past four years. You went to college, where some of these kids are coming out of high school.

Kevin Winn: I think that college was the best thing that could have happened for me as far as maturity goes. Coming out of high school, I considered myself really mature, but looking back I realize that I was completely wrong. I would have loved the chance to play professional baseball out of high school, but looking back, I think that it all worked out the way it was supposed to. I learned a lot about the game.

Looking back, when I was 18 years old, I was really inexperienced, not only about baseball, but about life in general. I feel like over the past four years, I've grown a lot as both a person and a baseball player. If I had to travel across country and play every single day at 18 – I don't know that I would have been ready for that. I'm glad to have gotten the college experience, and a degree to fall back on when baseball is over because it's going to end eventually.

Lets talk about your defense. You play second base. A) Have you played shortstop and B) How much room do you have to grow as a second baseman?

Kevin Winn: I played shortstop in high school. So I have a little bit of experience there, but in college I was primarily a second baseman and my defense is good. I've worked really hard on it. I know that there's always room to improve. I just keep myself versatile to the team and help everyone out as much as I can. But I think that there's always room for improvement. I'm going to keep working and hopefully keep improving.

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