Padres Prospect Interview: Matt Vern

Eugene, OR: San Diego Padres prospect Matt Vern has become the poster boy for ‘getting it'. He has embraced change so profoundly that other coaches point to his work as the model for future success. It hasn't been as easy as it sounds.

Talk about the adjustments you have made since coming out of college ball with the aluminum bat to the Northwest League and the wood bat.

Matt Vern: It is a process. I am not the only one who has to make those adjustments. It is definitely a little less barrel to work with. In college, you can manipulate it a little. You still have to have a good swing but there is more room for error and less room here.

I am just trying to work with the coaches and make a few adjustments – not change my swing but make a few adjustments so I can have success. I am working on that everyday.

Does it feel strange working on a new approach to hitting even in the cage where you are trying to get that muscle memory?

Matt Vern: Yes, it is about getting that muscle memory and getting to where you train those muscles to do it in a slightly different way. When they have been doing it another way for so long, it is hard to overcome. That is what I am going ot have to do. I come out here early to do the things I have to do to get me to where I want to go. It is not going to happen overnight, and I understand that.

Is that tough to understand that it won't be overnight and you may not see the immediate results?

Matt Vern: That is the real challenge. You are going to fail in baseball. If you are working on something, you might even fail more than you would normally. Being able to understand that you are working through a process now and not getting frustrated – keep working and try to get better. Some nights it will be good and some nights it will be bad.

As long as you are working, it will be a success in the end. You have to look at the big picture. At the end of the year, you want to be where you want to go and have made big-time progress, regardless of what the numbers are. I would rather be on going into next season with everything fixed and a lot better swing than putting up numbers in short season.

What do you need to improve upon to take your game to the next level?

Matt Vern: I am working on my path to the ball. I am trying to shorten some things up with the swing. I was a little bit rotational in college. That is ok with the metal bat but am trying to go straight ahead with everything. Doing that will make my swing shorter. I am trying to improve upon that everyday and also trying to help my load a little bit to stay back and get separation.

I will take it one step at a time. I am not trying to do all of those things at one time. It sounds bad – like I am making a whole new swing but really it is not. I am trying to improve upon at least one of those things each day, and, hopefully, by the end of the season, it is a lot better than it was.

After that – it is go out and play the game and then I will put up the numbers.

Your manager Greg Riddoch is a advocate of the mental side of the game. How difficult is it to forget about all those little adjustments when you go into the game?

Matt Vern: It is a challenge. Rid helps us with that. He tells us that when we go in there to, ‘see it and be easy.'

It helps, especially when you want to see and try the things in the game to get used to it. You have to put up a mental block to it. ‘Now I am in the game and competing just with the pitcher.'

Do you feel like the pitchers are throwing you differently in professional ball than you saw in college?

Matt Vern: They might come in a little bit more. A lot of times in college, guys wouldn't feel comfortable coming in with their stuff. They don't have that kind of control. I saw a lot of breaking balls in college and am seeing a lot of breaking balls away here. I hit the breaking ball pretty well in college.

Making the adjustments I am making means it will be difficult. I can't get frustrated with myself and have to keep working. Whenever it get fixed and I am just playing the game, I will have confidence to be the player the Padres want me to be.

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