Padres Prospect Interview: Houston Slemp

Houston Slemp going to the San Diego Padres in the 10th-round of the 2010 MLB Draft has brought all the pundits out for their sleeper pick – naming Slemp as the guy they believe could shine in the professional ranks.

Talk to me about being selected by the Padres in the 10th round and what your initial impressions were?

Houston Slemp: When the Padres called me and started discussing money and rounds, it was exciting. When that phone call came telling me, "Congratulations", my jaw dropped and I was in awe for a while.

What was the wait like? Was it agonizing?

Houston Slemp: I knew it would be agonizing. I got a little nervous as I was watching on my computer. A few of my friends and I went out and went out fishing just to get away from everything.

Talk a little bit about your game. What type of player you are and how you see yourself fitting in with the Padres?

Houston Slemp: I am sure it will be different in pro ball as I begin to figure things out. Right now, I am the type of player who goes gap to gap, occasionally runs into some balls. I am a speed guy who can hit and run, steal some bases, go first to third and try to bunt. I will probably end up playing corner outfield in pro ball. My game plan is to stick with being me and try not to do something that I am not capable of. Just try to help the team win.

Your were an All-State football player in high school. When was the decision made to focus on baseball?

Houston Slemp: The summer before my senior year. I realized that I had a better opportunity in playing baseball and that is when that decision was made.

You had an opportunity to go to Arkansas.

Houston Slemp: Yes. I went to Arkansas out of high school for baseball. I was there for three semesters and after what was my redshirt freshman season, I transferred to Eastern.

What made that decision - what was the driving factor behind that?

Houston Slemp: Coming out of high school I probably was not ready to play in the SEC. I ended up redshirting my freshman year. I also had surgery then. I came back and had a rather decent fall, but they had a bunch of returning guys in the outfield. I wasn't going to play that much that year. Maybe down the line, I would be playing. I just wanted to play and go someone where I knew I could. I knew someone I went to high school with who transferred to Eastern after being at San Diego State. It went from there.

Talk a bit about a weaker part of your game that you may need to bring up to snuff?

Houston Slemp: The things I need to work on is to continue with my defensive play and my arm. I need to show more patience and understand the strike down better.

Did you feel that you were too aggressive at times this past year? I know you had 14 walks to 31 strikeouts.

Houston Slemp: At times I was aggressive. That is what I to do. When I am hitting I try to be aggressive. This year, especially, I was only going to get one pitch to see and I needed to be aggressive about it. Most of the time, it worked out well. But there were times where I needed to be more patient. I did draw my walks anyway, but if I had been more patient I would drawn more walks and hit more. For my team, I had to be aggressive because that is what they needed.

You mentioned talking to the Padres before they picked you. Did you realize there was interest before that call came?

Houston Slemp: Yes. The scout, Lane Decker, and I talked quite a bit. He came and watched me. I had an interview with Lane Decker to fill out some finishing paperwork. Two days before the draft, he called me to ask how I was. That day he called and we discussed rounds.

What would you say is your best moment in baseball and why?

Houston Slemp: Personally, I think yesterday was one of the highlights of my baseball career. Throughout the past two years, I have had to overcome some adversity, having to leave Arkansas, and perhaps losing some confidence. Hearing my name called was a great accomplishment for me. I have had a lot of doubters and yesterday was a great accomplishment for me.

You are a guy with some speed and some power. Where do you see yourself fitting into this Padres organization and the mentality to push the pace? It seems to fit in with what you do best.

Houston Slemp: Everything will change in pro ball. My game plan will depend on how well I transfer over to the wood bat. I love being aggressive. I love having the green light on the base paths. I love squeezing, putting the pressure on the defense to makes plays.

I think you guys at Eastern Oklahoma must have been hit by more pitches than any one team in baseball. Do they just not like you?

Houston Slemp: I know we set the school record and I think we were in the lead for the nation. It is basically our way of playing baseball. We are going to either put the ball in play hard or we are going to get on base, either by a walk or hit by a pitch. We have a lot of guys up on the plate. It was wearing down the pitcher, more than them hating us. We would have guys who would get 8-9 pitches per at bat and then the pitcher gets tired and they would leave one over the plate for us.

What would your teammates say about your style of play and your demeanor on the field?

Houston Slemp: I really would not know. Off the field and on the field I know I am a completely different person. I am a quiet guy when I am playing. I am not the rah-rah guy. I just do my job, help my team, and help myself and focus on winning that game. They would say I am somebody who tries to play hard and play to win.

Who would you compare your game to at the Major League level?

Houston Slemp: Chase Utley. I am big fan of him and how he plays the game. I honestly think I am like that. During the game you never see him get upset, no matter if he is doing poorly or not. You always see him try to take an extra base or get a walk or do something to help the team. He runs balls out.

What are you looking forward to now that you are heading into professional baseball?

Houston Slemp: I am looking forward to trying to further my career and getting better and learning more about the game of baseball. Having that experience of pro ball and hopefully, everything works out and I end up getting in the big leagues.

How long did it take before you actually signed.

Houston Slemp: It was two minute phone call and that was that. It wasn't like "I want this and I want that." We set up a meeting, sat down, and got things worked out as fast as we could. I knew I wanted to play pro ball as soon as I could and I knew they wanted me to as well.

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