Padres Prospect Interview: Allan Dykstra

San Diego Padres prospect Allan Dykstra could have used a better start to the 2010 season. He started putting things together at the end of 2009, and a positive beginning to this season would have brought the confidence up. For all the struggles, Dykstra has kept his head up throughout the process.

Talk to me about that turnaround in August last year. Was that the culmination of the season?

Allan Dykstra: Definitely. It was one of those turning points that took a long time to get to, but once I finally got there, it was awesome. I worked all spring training and all year for, and then it finally came together. I wish it would have come a little sooner.

How tough is it to stick with those changes when you don't see the progress early on?

Allan Dykstra: It's definitely tough. It's one of those things, trial and error. You just have to take it slowly and realize it's not going to happen overnight. It finally came together for me at the end of the season and helped us through the playoffs. It's something I've kept through the whole off season. I moved out here and have been hitting to try to keep it from going back to the old ways. I'm trying to keep everything up.

There's some pressure obviously with being a first round pick. Do you feel that at all?

Allan Dykstra: You can't really say it's not the same with everyone. You go out there every day and everyone is asking for your autograph and they have your card. At first, it's a little overwhelming. After the first full year, you go out there and realize it doesn't matter now where you were drafted. Everyone has an equal chance, and everyone has to go out there and play. It's one of those things where it isn't going to be given to you just because of the draft. The draft is passed, and now you have to go out there and play.

Do you feel like you were too passive at times early on, especially with the runners in scoring position?

Allan Dykstra: A little bit. That was something I've been talking about this year. I'm probably going to change my approach a little bit. We need to change the whole hitting philosophy. It's kind of like an aggressively patient from a patiently aggressive approach. It might not seem like that big of a change, but it's definitely something I'm going to take seriously. If there's a pitch I'm looking for, no matter the count, I'm going to swing at it. Instead of getting so many walks this year.

It seems like you're the kind of guy that wants to see some pitches. They're preaching the 0-0 pitch. Is that something a little bit new?

Allan Dykstra: That's something they were talking about, not really keeping track of first-hit swings. If you're getting the pitch and you're looking for an 0-0, to swing at it. They were talking last year about making sure you see the first pitch. It was almost like you were forbidden to swing at the first pitch. I think this year they're trying to go out there and get people swinging. We're trying to put some runs up on the board. Walks are nice, but we'd rather be driving in runs with hits.

Did you feel like you were pulling the ball too much and maybe not using that entire field?

Allan Dykstra: It was all right. It's just one of those things. I wasn't really trying to pull it, but it just kind of ends up that way with the way my swings were opening up. It's more just staying up the middle and reacting, at this point. It should be interesting the first couple of games, trying to get your talent back, so we'll see how it goes.

Is there a power versus average balance for someone with power?

Allan Dykstra: Definitely. I wouldn't say it's as much worrying about it numbers-wise. It's more an approach. You can't go out there trying to hit home runs because it won't happen. You just have to know that your natural power is there, go out there and try to hit line drives. If you have power, line drives are going to turn into home runs. You have to go out there having a line drive approach and the gas, especially at some of the parks we play at.

How do you maintain the confidence you got late last year, even if there's some struggles?

Allan Dykstra: It's not really maintaining confidence; it's just knowing that you can get through anything. Even if you're struggling, you can always get through it. I was at the point last year that I was so low, I don't think I'm ever going to get out of this, but it finally happened. This year, it's more that I know how to get out of a struggle more than being confidant. It's always nice to have a hot start, but it's baseball.

What has been the adjustment to hitting that inside pitch, something that has been one of your focus points?

Allan Dykstra: I've just cleaned up my swing a little bit. I've relied more on using my hands instead of jerking my shoulder and body around. That's one thing I really worked on during the off-season, just using my hands and letting them glide through instead of jerking them through with my body.

Striding toward the pitcher too, as well?

Allan Dykstra: Yes, that's been solved. That's definitely something that I solved last year. Still, every once in a while it will come back a little bit, but that's with all things.

Do you feel like you were out on your front foot on those breaking balls and that's just another part of the learning process?

Allan Dykstra: It all stems from the issues regarding my swing. It's not really a matter of the pitch. All the problems come from A) timing and B) just I was a little contorted with everything that was going on. It wasn't allowing my hands to work.

How have you improved defensively?

Allan Dykstra: I've just been working on it. I feel like last year in the second half, I really started bearing down every day. I was at the point where if I wasn't getting hits, no one else was getting hits. You have to work on your defense, because hitting isn't always there, but you can always play defense. You need to have it at the point that your manager can't take you out of the lineup because you're a defensive liability. Hitting is one of those things that come and go for everyone, but defense is something you can work at every day. That's something I came to realize last year.

We all know you have a lot of great teammates and this does not take away from anyone you don't mention. If you could have one hitter hitting behind you in the lineup all season to offer protection, who would it be and why?

Allan Dykstra: Oh man. Last year, we had a pretty good team. We were interchanging Matt Clark and James Darnell around, around myself. Those are a great bunch of guys to hit with, and I think their numbers prove it. They both had over 20 home runs, and right now, they're two of the best production power hitters in our organization. I'd have to say one of them. That's not one, but that's one lefty, one righty.

Who is the one pitcher you are glad you have as a teammate and why?

Allan Dykstra: Simon Castro. He's just long, lanky. Mid-90s fastball, upper-80s slider. The thing about him is that his control has got a lot better, but there's still the one time. You're just not comfortable in the batter's box with him. It's something you can't really teach, and he's got it. I wish him the best of luck, and hopefully he'll have a great year again this year.

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