Padres Prospect Interview: Jason Hagerty

Jason Hagerty has an interesting mix of power and the ability to control a pitching staff. Those are some of the reasons the San Diego Padres selected him in the fifth-round this year.

You got drafted by the Padres in the fifth-round. Talk a little bit about that.

Jason Hagerty: I'm excited. It was a great feeling to hear my name called, especially since I went out there a couple of days before the draft to Petco Park and while visiting San Diego, I pretty much fell in love with the place. The city was great and everyone treated me very nicely in the organization. I'm really happy that the Padres took a chance on me and have given me the opportunity to play in the organization.

It has to feel good to already have a couple of friends in the organization. Blake Tekotte gets picked last year and you know him. Does it help the assimilation into the Padres farm system?

Jason Hagerty: Yes it's definitely going to be a help. I talked to him about where he played in the mionr leagues last year and it will feel good to play with him, and the first round pick a couple of years ago, Nick Schmidt, actually played in the same high school team with him so he's another guy that I know in the organization so he's another helpful tool that I can take.

So talk a little bit about your game. What do you feel is your best attribute?

Jason Hagerty: I really like to catch and to run the pitching staff and make sure everything is OK there. That's my number one priority, as every catcher should. You have to make sure that you have the pitching because if you don't have the pitching then you're not going to win. That's my number one priority, and recently, I started to hit a lot better and that's one of the other things that I really like to do.

You said that ‘recently you started hitting better.' Has there been something that's changed that's allowed you to see the ball better and meet your expectations?

Jason Hagerty: I started switch-hitting and it took me a while to get used to. More at-bats also helped me get comfortable at the plate and see more pitching. The last couple of years, I've gotten a lot more bats on the left side, which is my unnatural side. Getting at-bats there has really helped me just to be comfortable at the plate and see pitches a lot better.

You hit 14 homers last year, which is a step up. I think you hit eight the year before. Is it hitting the gaps, are you a power guy? Where do you fit in?

Jason Hagerty: I like to think of myself as a gap hitter-doubles and whenever a homer comes, I think of it as a mistake. You get under it a little bit and it travels out. I like to think of myself as a doubles hitter. You know, working gap-to-gap and in counts. I don't focus on hitting home runs because that's when you start striking out a lot.

Do consider yourself the typical ‘catcher', who everybody thinks is slow?

Jason Hagerty: No I actually like to run. I can run a little bit. I surprise a lot of people. That's definitely a part of the game that I like that I think is a popular misconception.

You come into an organization, and Blake may have briefed you on this, that preaches a patient yet aggressive approach. How do you fit into that mold?

Jason Hagerty: That's one of the things that I had to do this past year because a lot of the times I was getting pitched around and thrown a lot of soft stuff, trying to get me to chase balls. That's something I had to work on, waiting for my pitch, no matter if it was one strike or two strikes. It was waiting to hit my pitch and not the pitcher's pitch who was trying to get me out. That has been one of my main focuses this past year.

You mentioned your catching skills being a priority. What is the most important facet of catching that you have to be on top of?

Jason Hagerty: Making sure that the pitchers are ready. If you're going to be a good catcher you have to run a good pitching staff and you have to be prepared for every game. That includes making sure you're prepared before the game by watching videos and scouting reports and making sure that you and your pitcher are going into the game with confidence, making sure that he's going to give you a good shot to win and that you've got a good game plan against the opposing hitters.

You're coming into a new system with a whole new staff to learn. How difficult will that be as you go through each step along the way, seeing different guys?

Jason Hagerty: It's definitely going to be different, it's a whole different league and a new adjustment for me, but I'm excited to make that adjustment and I'm excited for the challenge, and I'm going to do everything that I can to make sure that I am prepared in every way that I go and every level that I go up.

Is there a player in the majors today that you emulate and maybe look up to?

Jason Hagerty: Jason Varitek. I think that he does a great job in running his pitching staff and being a leader on the field. Leading by example, I think he does a great job being prepared every game. He's definitely someone that I would like to someday be able to be like.

Is there something that someone seeing you for the first time won't know about you but maybe should?

Jason Hagerty: I'm very competitive and I guarantee that I'm going to give my all every time that I step between the lines. I never take an off day. I like to compete and I'm going to be ready. It's going to be a big adjustment for me, but I work hard.

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