Padres Prospect Interview: Blake Tekotte

Fort Wayne, IN: San Diego Padres prospect Blake Tekotte got off to a slow start but no hitter has been hotter in the past month and a half. He made some minor tweaks affecting his timing but has adapted to the adjustments and showing the promise that had him picked so high.

Talk about the first half of the season. There was some struggles early on but you have been on fire over the last month or two. What has changed?

Blake Tekotte: I guess I was kind of getting back in the groove. I don't know what took me so long. I was working with (Tom Tornicasa) Torni and (Tony) Muser. I worked on different stuff. I didn't think it was anything mechanical that they were saying. It was more about timing and trying to get back – get my foot down and not trying to speed up my swing more.

Now, I am getting my foot down before a pitcher releases the ball and seeing it a lot better. It shows. I have more walks, am more selective, and my average has gone up too.

One of the things we noticed last year was a significant wrap in your swing. While that is a comfort level, it might take a little bit longer to get through the hitting zone.

Blake Tekotte: That is something I have always had and was used to. I have been trying to cut that down and have lately. I am shorter to the ball. It is something I have had a bad habit of doing.

Does that go back to the timing we were just talking about? You change it a little bit and now everything became slightly off?

Blake Tekotte: Yeah, exactly. That was making me a little late. When I was trying to do too much, I would wrap even more and that would make me even later. I have been trying to simplify my swing and get rid of that wrap.

I am working towards what is going to work in the major leagues. Whether I hit .200 for the first half – as long as it is going to work in the long run.

You mentioned getting a few more walks now. Do you feel like you were swinging outside of the zone a little too much?

Blake Tekotte: Absolutely. I was trying to stay up in that one-spot and get on base. I was putting way too much pressure on myself. I realized – the pitchers are going to make mistakes, especially down here in Low-A. They are going to make one or two mistakes per at-bat.

Whenever you get that pitch, you can't miss it and need to take advantage of that. Once I learned that, I started to see the ball really well. It seemed like they were throwing the ball right where I wanted them to. I started getting some extra base hits too.

If I missed that pitch, I would battle, foul some off, and take a walk.

Is there a comfort level in knowing that this team has been able to produce in every facet? It seems like every inning there are guys on base ready to be driven in. Does that help you calm down?

Blake Tekotte: That is when I was finally believing that I didn't have to do everything myself. We have guys who can get on base and guys who can drive them in.

It reminded me of Miami. We had a powerhouse with three first-rounders. Go with the flow and have fun with it. Once I started to have fun, things became easier. I was more relaxed.

What was it like to win the first half in the Midwest League?

Blake Tekotte: It was great. It has been fun with this team. We knew we had a really good squad. We started off the season winning 10 in a row and knew we had something special.

We got great guys, a great staff – when we put it altogether, we can score a bunch of runs. We are pretty unstoppable at times.

What do you need to do to take your game to the next level and move up to Lake Elsinore?

Blake Tekotte: I need to be more patient, continue to get on base, and work on stealing more bases when I do get on base. I also have to continue to play well in the outfield. The big key is staying within myself at the plate and not try and do too much or pull everything. I need to use the opposite field and be selective in my pitch selection.

Do you feel like you weren't aggressive in the first half stealing bases? Was there something in the back of your mind saying I got on base and can't get thrown out because you weren't on as often as now?

Blake Tekotte: I didn't get on base too often (laughs). I didn't feel like there were too many opportunities for me to steal. I did get thrown out a couple of times but those were on hit-and-runs. It wasn't really an opportunity to run.

Now that I am getting on more and getting more walks, I have more opportunities and am feeling more comfortable with that.

Jason Hagerty gets taken out of Miami by the Padres. What are your thoughts on him?

Blake Tekotte: He has a lot of potential. He is 6-foot-3, 220 – a switch-hitting catcher. His arm is getting back now. He said he feels great throwing the ball. He hasn't really caught in the last few years. He is excited. He has power – switch-hitting catcher. He has a major league body already. It will be excited to see him.

How does Parkview Field play? Do you notice any of those nuances in center field where the ball tails more one way versus another?

Blake Tekotte: To left-center and left – the ball seems to carry a little more. There are a lot of balls hit to right-center that are hit well but stay in the ball park. I tend to shade over there a little bit more. There are more opportunities to catch the ball over there, especially when righties are up. With our pitching staff throwing hard, they don't try to pull them too much. I try to play oppo to extend my range.

One scout – and whether this is a fair assessment or not is unclear – said that there are times when you glide to the ball because of your natural ability rather than going all out. Do you think that is a fair assessment?

Blake Tekotte: I definitely don't feel like I am gliding. Some balls that I can't get behind that I feel like I have a good beat on I feel like I slow up to not get myself in a bad spot where I am not getting behind it and catching it over my shoulder. I slow so I can catch it over my shoulder and then turn and throw it quickly. That might be why it seems like I am gliding.

I go hard all the time and try and make my range as big as possible. I take a lot of pride in my defense – even though I have had some throwing errors. I try not to make it with the glove.

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