Padres Prospect Interview: Nate Freiman

Eugene, OR: An 18-game hitting streak greeted Nate Freiman to the professional ranks after being drafted by the San Diego Padres. The tall first baseman has had to adapt along the way and has made the transition look fairly easy.

Talk to me about some of the adjustments you were making coming from the college ranks into the Northwest League.

Nate Freiman: I think the two biggest adjustments are playing everyday and working with the wood bats.

Playing everyday is something you get used to after a few weeks. Same thing with the wood bats. You just have to remember to not try and do too much.

As a taller guy, how difficult is it to maintain a short path to the ball?

Nate Freiman: It is difficult. It is something I have been dealing with for y

ears. My swing is my swing and I continually try and take short paths to the ball. It is not something I think about too much.

Having played at a college like Duke – did anyone ever think you played for the basketball team?

Nate Freiman: It is funny you say that. Nobody on campus thought I was a basketball player because they know all the basketball players there. They know I am not one of them. I got surprisingly few comments about that.

You mentioned your swing but there has been some introduction to changes to the mechanics. How tough is it to bring those kinds of things into the game?

Nate Freiman: That is something you have to practice. It is tough to make the adjustment and take it into the game. It is something you do off the tee, you do in soft toss and you do in batting practice until you get comfortable and can do it in the game.

Do you feel like when you do get into the box there are sometimes swirling thoughts about what you want to accomplish?

Nate Freiman: The first thing is you look at the situation you are hitting in and whether you are trying to get guys in or move guys over. You then have to look at what the pitcher has. There is a lot to think about already.

They say you are not supposed to think about mechanics in the game. I try not to.

Working under Greg Riddoch who is a pretty big proponent of the psychological aspect of the game – how has that helped you?

Nate Freiman: I think playing for Rid is great for all of us who aren't used to playing professional baseball. To have somebody so focused on sports psychology and the mental part is big. The mental part of baseball is what starts to separate the talent. We are really lucky to play for someone like Rid.

Do you feel like pitchers are working you differently than you saw in college?

Nate Freiman: The ACC – people joke because they call is the American Curveball Conference. I saw sliders, curveballs, changeups. I am starting to see a lot of fastballs and people are starting to really locate those fastballs. A lot of fastballs in – which is new – but like anything else it is an adjustment.

What is the strength of your game overall?

Nate Freiman: I try not to get too high or too low. I do the best I can do compartmentalize things if I have a bad at-bat to not let mistakes affect other things. I try and stay on an even keel while I am playing. Sometimes it is hard. I just do the best I can.

Talk about your defensive game. While you are a big target, does it hurt you trying to dig out balls in the dirt?

Nate Freiman: Defense is really important, especially at first base. You are the last word on any ball in the infield. You have to catch it. I have worked hard defensively and am trying to continue to improve.

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

Nate Freiman: Experience. The more you play, the more you get a sense of the strike zone, the pitching, the way to play defense and play everyday.

Working with the coaches here is what I need to do to take my game to the next level.

You mentioned the strike zone. Have there been times this year where you have been swinging at pitches that perhaps you normally wouldn't?

Nate Freiman: I think it was just an adjustment, getting familiar with the league. I am having better at-bats now and working deeper counts. The more pitches you see, the more comfortable you get. I had a month off from playing but am back seeing the ball well.

You lead the Northwest League in RBI. What is the mentality for you when you see runners in scoring position?

Nate Freiman: The five-hole is a really important position because you are hitting behind all the guys that get on base. I am hitting behind great guys like Bo (Davis), (Jason) Hagerty, and Vince (Belnome) and all the other guys who get on base. They get on base it seems like every time. I am one of these lucky guys that comes up with someone on base every time.

You put that guy in the fifth spot and it is his job to get the guys in. Whether it takes a ground ball with the infield back or a sac fly, I am going to do what I can to get the guys in.

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