Padres Prospect Interview: Cody Decker

San Diego Padres prospect Cody Decker won Arizona Rookie League MVP honors in his debut season and was moved all the way to High-A Lake Elsinore. He has yet to disappoint, leading the California League in extra-base hits.

Do you feel like you need to prove yourself anew each season, as a little bit lower round draft pick?

Cody Decker: I don't know if I really need to prove anything. I take every negative thing I hear or read and kind of put it up on the bulletin board for myself. I just have high expectations. I don't that I really need to prove myself as much as I just expect a lot out of myself.

You started off a little slow before coming on strong during the month of May – any reason why?

Cody Decker: You know, early in the year, my timing was off. I always figured it was going to take me 15-20 at-bats to really get in the groove. I sat in the dugout and was really driving into my head by the middle of the game: See ball, hit ball. See ball, hit ball. Just make it as simple as I possibly could, and after that, everything felt fantastic.

Was there too much going through your mind early on there?

Cody Decker: I think so. I always say when I'm hitting, if I'm thinking at all, I'm thinking way too much. I think I was just putting too much on, focusing on doing this or that too much. Then, I just went out there, threw everything out the window, and just swung the bat. Good things happen.

How much are the guys getting on you because you got a little bull action before going into the bater's box with your feet – I wanted to yell ‘Ole'?

Cody Decker: I haven't heard a thing from anybody.

Are you serious?

Cody Decker: I don't know why. I'm the easiest target on the field. They should be destroying me, but they're not. Normally, I'll get something. It's usually the other team's fans that will do it, but they're very unoriginal. They'll just count to six, because I kick my leg six times. It doesn't really bother me. I don't know. Someone should come up with something good. No one is coming up with anything.

What does it mean to you?

Cody Decker: I did it when I was 11 and 12 years old. Six is my lucky number. When I was a kid, I had this real fascination with Steve Garvey, which is very funny since I'm a short first baseman, too. I play for an organization that retired his number, so I can't wear six. I was just a huge fan of his, and I just thought that six was a good number for me. Ever since then, I've done everything in sixes. I'm kind of OCD about it. I'm not OCD at all, but six is just a number that I love. If I got to a gas station and I see the six pump open, I'm going to the six pump. I don't know why.

Very interesting. We're going to let it go for now. We might come back to it a different year.

Cody Decker: Very strange. I'm the first to admit it. It's a very weird, weird thing. I've just always done it.

Ok. That's fair. We've heard you don't have the prettiest of swings. Does that mean changes have to come, or is it until I don't have a success, then at that point?

Cody Decker: No one's said a word to me yet.

Do you think it's pretty?

Cody Decker: I think it's gorgeous. I don't really see what's different with my swing than anybody else's. I'm usually pretty short and powerful through the zone. If I need to make an adjustment, I will. But, as of now, no one's mentioned anything to me, so I'm just going to keep going about it until someone tells me I need to change.

Manager Jose Flores said that you are a clubhouse guy slash leader. When you hear something like that, how does it make you feel?

Cody Decker: Good. More than anything, I want to win. I love winning more than anything in the world. Losing borderline makes me sick. I'm pretty quick to get other guys up. I'm very loud in the dugout. I play a ton of pranks on players, and they play them on me. I like to have fun, and I have the most fun when I win. I think everybody else is the exact same way.

Is that infectious? Can you see it rubbing off on other people?

Cody Decker: Sometimes. Other times, I'm sure I'm annoying, annoying to a lot of people. Maybe, it's a possibility. The truth is I really have a good time when I'm playing, and I try to make sure everyone else does. We'll always be open with each other or really be on each other. It's fun.

Have you spent any time working as a catcher or an outfielder? There has been some talk, rumors, and whispers. Has it actually happened?

Cody Decker: You know what's funny? No one has said a word to me, other than what my parents said they read. But since they told me and since it made sense in my head, I caught a ton of bullpens this off season. I really caught a lot of bullpens. I went back to UCLA and caught a bunch of bullpens for their pitchers. A couple pro guys I know, I caught a couple bullpens for them. I took some fly balls in the outfield with a couple of buddies. I ran a lot. I got reacquainted with a lot of positions. I even went over to third base and got myself reacquainted with that. I'm really willing to play absolutely anywhere, because I really believe my bat can take care of itself. If I just keep my options open, I'm willing to do absolutely anything.

Have you now – since you've done the work – made the overtures, asked and said, ‘Hey, if you need a catcher, I'm available.'

Cody Decker: I think during the season, I'll bring it up with my manager and say, ‘Hey, if you need a guy to catch, I'm definitely it.' It happened in Fort Wayne last year. In four years, I was labeled a catcher at UCLA, but I didn't catch a single inning. I caught all the falls and bullpens. I did all the work. I just didn't get the playing time there. I went over to Ft. Wayne. He said, ‘Hey, it says here you've caught before.' I said, ‘yeah.' ‘You're in the bullpen. You might be in the game tomorrow.' Oh. Okay. That's cool. That was kind of a thing to me. I'm going to catch more bullpens, just in case. I got myself into the catcher's mitt. It's nice.

Better pitch selection? Will that be the key to the coming season? You did strike out quite a few times last year. Is that a concern at all?

Cody Decker: My strikeouts, not really. I don't really know that it's so much a concern. I always thought I had good pitch selection. I walked a lot too. I'm all about getting my pitches and putting the best possible swing on it. Sometimes you miss. I think it's a give and take thing. I'll take a couple extra strikeouts to get that many more RBIs. I feel pretty comfortable.

You talked about being somewhat of a clubhouse leader and an antic guy. Does that also mean that at times you have to calm down when you're going up to the plate to bat, where you're so amped up, it's almost a negative effect?

Cody Decker: It depends how I'm going about it. If I'm really focused, odds are there's nothing entering or exiting my head. I just get my sign, I go in there and do my work. It's kind of second nature to my at this point. Sometimes, if I'm looking around, seeing things, thinking about things, then I really need to step out and do my little routine. That's another reason why I do that thing. It's just routine. It's really nothing that's ever come into play with me, luckily.

You hit .411 with runners in scoring position last year, which is kind of ridiculous. A different approach at all?

Cody Decker: No, I don't think I need a different approach. Unless something goes wrong, or something mechanically is wrong.

Let me rephrase that. As far as the situational hitting, do you go, ‘Alright, I'm going to look at the fastball in the early count and swing, rather than maybe getting one or two pitches to see what this guy's got, with runners in scoring position specifically?'

Cody Decker: With runners in scoring position, if I get a pitch to hit, I'm going to hit it. My main concern is to get that runner in. I will, at times, change my swing a little bit. I'll take a ground out to second base to score the runner at third. My main focus is RBIs, because that's the best way to get the team to win. Sometimes things will change, but for the most part, my mind set is to get that runner in at all cost.

What was the Fort Wayne experience like?

Cody Decker: It was fun. Great guys. I had a great time. Everyone just loved what they were doing. It was a real exciting time for me. I didn't play a whole lot. I figured that going in. It was great. I definitely will never trade that for anything.

What did you learn about yourself from your time from Arizona to Fort Wayne that made you go, ‘Huh, maybe I could get a little better. Maybe I need to step it up too.'

Cody Decker: Not too much. I'm pretty confident in myself. I went up there. I only got 17 at-bats. There's not a whole lot I can do with it. I had a feeling it was going to take about 20-25 to get myself re-acclimated to a new league and a new situation. One thing I would like to do from now on is to get it going a little faster than that. It was a situation that I knew what I was going into, and I definitely had a great time. As far as learning, I learned I need to get my act together a little quicker.

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?

Cody Decker: I love Allan Dykstra. He's a real powerful guy. People don't like pitching to him. He's huge. He's also one of the nicest guys I know. I love being around him, and I love talking to him. My pick might be Allan Dykstra. And, also that's someone that's great to hit behind you.

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

Cody Decker: It's a really good question. I really get along with all the guys. I really like Michael Watt. He's a fun guy. We have a lot of the same interests. He's also a real tough pitcher. He's one of those tough lefties. I really like how he goes about his business.

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