Padres Prospect Interview: Jason Hagerty

Fort Wayne, IN: San Diego Padres prospect Jason Hagerty is eager to prove that the system has depth at catcher. A switch-hitting bat with pop, Hagerty has improved defensively. He is hoping a more relaxed approach will lead to more success at the dish.

We have talked about feeling a little more comfortable with your approach. What changed?

Jason Hagerty: Nothing really has changed. Everything is the same mechanically. I just loosened up a little bit. I felt like I was trying to do too much. We were struggling so I was always looking for the big hit. I was tensing up and not swinging at good pitches. It was more about relaxing and looking for my pitch to hit. That was the only adjustment I made.

Can you feel that when those kinds of things happen to your approach?

Jason Hagerty: Yes, you feel slow to the ball when you are not on time. You foul pitches off that you feel like you should have. That is kind of the feeling I had.

The looser you are, the quicker you are. You will catch up to good pitches.

How difficult is it to change the mentality. That really is the mental game more than the physical.

Jason Hagerty: This is my first full season. Besides talking to other people, I didn't really know what to expect. I know it is a long year and you can't let things get to you early because there are still a lot of games left. I started relaxing and taking one day at a time – not letting anything get to your head.

Everyone always talks about getting ready for full season ball, but it is vastly different when you get here. Can you prepare?

Jason Hagerty: You can do everything possible to get your body into physical shape, but a lot of it is mental – mental toughness. I haven't hit that second wave so I don't know how it will be. I am trying to stay in the best shape possible and stay mentally sharp to grind it out.

We talked about the switch-hitting ways in the past. Do you feel like you are evolving in that area?

Jason Hagerty: Yes, at first, I was getting more at-bats left-handed so I was struggling right-handed. I really worked on my right-handed swing so I feel comfortable from both sides now.

You came into mid-May with one homer before hitting two in a game and evening out since then. Do you ever get concerned about that when you think you should be hitting more?

Jason Hagerty: Not at all. Like I said, it is a long season, and they will come. I feel like I could have had a few more, but hit into some wind. I can't do anything about that. They will come.

How has the improvement come in handling the pitching staff?

Jason Hagerty: Good. I think it took a few starts to get comfortable, but that is going to happen. There were only three guys I caught last year in Eugene. It is getting much better.

What improvements do you need to make as a catcher?

Jason Hagerty: Definitely, still with my throwing. I have improved this year, but there have been a few throws that didn't get called out that maybe should have been. My arm feels good and feels stronger. It is repeating my footwork. That is going to bring my consistency up.

When you are working with roving catching instructor Duffy Dyer, what kind of tips and tricks are you picking up?

Jason Hagerty: He doesn't really try to change a lot but just fixes little things that he sees. For me, in spring training, I was having a little trouble catching the ball to my glove side. He helped with a little move that got my hands there quicker. It is little things like that. He doesn't try and overload us with information, especially as I am still getting back into catching. He is picking little things. I can take those and improve with those.

It will take a lot of little things to be the type of catcher I want to be.

At this level, some pitcher are not necessarily concerned with their time to home plate, which puts a little more pressure on you. There can be a little bit of a frustration level there. How can you balance it out so you just keep doing what you are doing since they will get better as the pitching staff matures into the game?

Jason Hagerty: Just like me, they are learning too. I can't worry about the things I can't control. I have to focus on not rushing and trying to put the best throw possible out there. If he is out, great. If not, there is not much else I can do. I just try and put the best throw out there.

Is there a player on your team that is perhaps undervalued for the contributions he makes to the team?

Jason Hagerty: I think Dean Anna. He has played four or five different positions and has a good left-handed bat. It is hard for him at times because he may not be playing everyday. Whenever he does get the chance, he is always ready to play. He hadn't played outfield in pro ball. I think he said he played a little in college. And he has done that pretty well. He is a great defender up the middle. He is one of the guys that is a little bit under the radar.

What do you need to do to take the next step?

Jason Hagerty: I try and take it one day at a time. Mostly, consistency. I have good days and bad days. I am trying to get on an even playing field. Consistency and working behind the plate to get better defensively. I know I need to improve to stay there and I want to stay there.

Who is the one guy on your team that you don't want to see barreling down the line towards home plate as the ball is in flight?

Jason Hagerty: Definitely Wande Olabisi. He is like a middle linebacker. He is the one guy that will leave a bruise.

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