Padres Prospect Interview: Connor Powers

San Diego Padres prospect Connor Powers has an appropriate last name. Brawn is his game. He does, however, feel he has more athleticism than what pre-draft prognosticators said regarding him.

Congratulations Conner. When you were drafted by the San Diego Padres – what was your initial feeling when that happened?

Connor Powers: I was excited. I have always loved playing baseball since I was a kid and being part of an organization like the San Diego Padres is a real honor.

Let's talk a little bit about your game. Where do you see yourself fitting into this system?

Connor Powers: My bat is definitely going to be the thing that is most attractive about me. I play first base. I can play some other positions and I used to play third base. We were rather overloaded with third basemen this year so I ended up playing first base.

You have hit 35 homers over the last two years in a very tough conference. Does that say something about you and your pedigree?

Connor Powers: I guess so. I performed pretty well the last few years. I guess I do not really know how to answer that.

Was it frustrating watching the draft go by and perhaps you thought you should have been taken a little bit higher?

Connor Powers: Obviously, if you get picked 10th overall, you would want to go 9th – the earlier the better. That being said, I couldn't have asked to get picked by a better team than the Padres.

You walked more than you struck out last year. How important is that pitch selection to your overall game?

Connor Powers: It was huge. That was the main thing that I really wanted to work on. I got drafted last year in the 11th round. I struck out 30 more times than I walked. I basically cut that in half this year. I was focusing on trying to get on base. I made the decision to go back and get better and finish up a little bit of school.

How do you make that transition? It is pretty big to cut down 30 strike outs in a single season, especially when you have been hitting a particular way your whole life and looking for a particular pitch in a particular spot. Now you have to narrow that zone down.

Connor Powers: I did not chase pitches out of the strike zone. Last year I probably hit more home runs because I swung at balls – if that makes any sort of sense. I just swung at more pitches, so that may be why I hit three more HRs last year. But that approach isn't going to work, and I definitely had to make some changes.

Now playing on a team that did not have a winning record, did you feel there were times when you were pressing?

Connor Powers: Yes, definitely. Sometimes I did feel that way. I felt I had to go 4-for-4 and hit four home runs every game. It is one of those things where you have to be mature and stay within yourself. I have been playing for however long and, no matter what kind of team you are one, you are going to find yourself in situations where you start pressing and you just have to be mature.

Could you ever have imagined being selected out of high school and going straight to professional baseball?

Connor Powers: Some teams talked to me, the Phillies and the Tigers, but it was one of those things where I felt college was the right choice for me.

Were you mature enough at that time?

Connor Powers: Looking back on it, maybe not. Of course, at the time, I would have said I was. The past couple of years have really helped me grow up as a ballplayer.

We have talked about some of your strengths, is there a particular weakness that you feel needs to be improved?

Connor Powers: Yes. I wish I could run a little bit better. That is going to be a knock. I would like to have people look me and say I can play other positions so I don't get key-holed at one. That would give me a better chance to make it. That it is going to be some of the things I work on my own time.

So when people say you may be a little stiff and you should just be a first baseman, is that an unfair assessment?

Connor Powers: Personally, I think so. Obviously that is coming from me. When I was in high school I think I ran a 6.8 (second) 60. I am really not as stiff as some people think I am. I put on 20-25 lbs since I got to school , which might have slowed me down. But it is not really bad weight – rather it is mostly muscle in my legs and my upper body.

Who would you compare yourself to at the Major League level, just to give Padres fans an idea of what your game is like?

Connor Powers: I am working towards being somewhat like Kevin Youkilis. I think his percentage of strikes he swings at is the highest in the Major Leagues. I would like to be someone like that. I suppose Paul Konerko too, from the White Sox would be another player I model myself after.

What is the transition going to be like going to the wood bat?

Connor Powers: I played the last two summers up in Cape Cod, so I know what that is all about.

What was your best moment in baseball and why?

Connor Powers: My freshman year, I believe it was the day after the Draft. The pitcher had been picked 4th overall the day before. There were 15,000 people at our stadium and I hit a home run. That was one of the more enjoyable moments I have had.

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

Connor Powers: The opportunity to play at the next level.

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