Padres Prospect Interview: Jason Hagerty

San Diego Padres prospect Jason Hagerty learned more in his short stint in Triple-A and during instructs than perhaps his whole time in Eugene. With lessons in tow, he feels better prepared for the coming campaign.

Talk a little bit about the Portland experience. You started the year in short-season Eugene and ended up seeing time in Triple-A near the end of the year. What was that like?

Jason Hagerty: It was great experience just being able to see what that level is like, knowing I want to be there soon and eventually up in the big leagues. I was treated very well up there. The guys treated me well.

It was great to experience that and to see what I need to do personally to take my game to the next level, what kind of adjustments. Being able to go up there for the last two weeks of the season – I couldn't ask for any better of a situation. I was very fortunate and it is something I will remember forever. Hopefully, I will get back there soon.

What kind of veteran players were able to take you under the wing and share advice, especially some of the guys who have been to the big leagues?

Jason Hagerty: There was a lot of them. Duffy Dyer was up there managing the last week. That was great for me as a catcher. Yamid Haad was great. He ended up hurting his back, which is why I got to catch for four and a half games. He told me a lot, the adjustments I would have to make and pushed me on – rooting for me to do well. He genuinely meant it. It was great.

How have you improved in throwing out runners?

Jason Hagerty: That is something I definitely have to improve upon. If I am going to be able to stay behind the plate, that is the one thing I need to get better at. I haven't thrown as much as I have this year. I missed a little bit the last couple of years with surgery. I am really getting back into it. There have been a lot of ups and downs with it. Now, I am understanding what I need to do to get my arm in shape for 140 games. It is something I need to work on a lot. Throwing a lot this year has really helped me out.

There is a lot that goes into catching and throwing. Is it jus the throwing or all the other things?

Jason Hagerty: It is the little things too. The mechanical stuff that plays big. If you don't have that stuff down, you aren't going to be able to throw the ball in the first place. Am fine-tuning that stuff this off-season to be ready for Spring Training. That will be big for me. Also, getting back the arm strength I used to have before I had surgery is my main goal. I know the footwork and all of that is going to come eventually. I am just worried about getting my arm in shape to play a full season.

You are pretty raw in terms of catching. Do you look at it like that when you see someone else who may be ahead of you in certain aspects?

Jason Hagerty: I caught throughout high school and know what it will be like to get back. I had a big leaguer coach me in high school. He definitely helped me with all of that. I know it will come back but it will be a process. I haven't done it the last three years.

I am not concerned with the guys in front of me. I know that if I do what I need to do, personally, then everything else will take care of itself. Not to take anything away from them because I know it will be a great battle. There are some really good catchers ahead of me. I know I am going to have to take my game to the next level if I want to make it up there.

When I talked to former Eugene hitting coach Eric Peyton at the end of the year, he mentioned to me that you are a self-correcting hitter. What does that mean?

Jason Hagerty: I guess he feels I can see what mistakes I am making and make the adjustments myself. Some people can do that. I do appreciate that he said that.

Still, there are things people can see from the sidelines that I can't that have helped me. Instructional League took me to the next level. Instructs really took it to a new level. I was always able to hit the ball the other way, but I couldn't do it with consistency. In instructs, they cleaned my swing up so much that it has taken off. I know that if I stick with this and have a lot of practice that it will pay off.

You mentioned instructs and making adjustments. What kind of adjustments have you made?

Jason Hagerty: Basically, I had a few tweaks to make in my swing. I was stepping towards the plate instead of towards the pitcher. That has taken away the inside corner of the plate. I am jamming myself. They had me striding towards the pitcher.

It is hard to break habits. I still catch myself every once and a while. I try and keep it in the back of my head, knowing everything else will follow. Once you get your foot down and your hands back, then you can go. If you don't know where your front foot is, you are not going to be able to hit.

Another thing was wrapping my bat and not taking my hands straight back. Little things that are tough to break. Definitely cleaning up my swing and helping me out. It is great.

Will pitch selection ultimately prove how far you can go and do you feel like you were being too aggressive at times in Eugene?

Jason Hagerty: Big-time. I started out doing well and then I always try to do more and more and more. I got myself into trouble once I started to struggle. I tried to do even more to get myself out of the slump and buried myself even more. That was another good experience that I learned. You can't do that, otherwise, you are going to fall into a hole.

By failure, I learned a lot in my first year. I couldn't have asked for anything more. I know I am being optimistic about it. It could happen again. Hopefully, it won't. Hopefully, I can take the strides they have given me and take off.

How was it handling all the different pitchers at two levels? You are making adjustments on the fly for guys you barely know.

Jason Hagerty: In Triple-A, I had never caught any of those guys. It was different learning them, especially at that level. They have such high expectations of the catcher because they are at the level right below the big leagues. They are trying to get there and trying to have a great outing every time.

I just tried to learn their tendencies. It's all the same. Once you get a feel for the pitcher and know what their pitches are, you can take off from there.

It was difficult in Arizona too. A lot of young pitchers. but it is all part of the game. If you don't make adjustments, you are not going to learn and improve.

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