Padres Prospect Interview: Tommy Medica

As a catcher, San Diego Padres prospect Tomy Medica could be a difference maker. His bat may play elsewhere. After shoulder surgery, Medica has yet to see time behind the dish but hopes to be back there next year, adding depth at the position.

Congratulations on getting drafted by the San Diego Padres. What was the experience like for you?

Tommy Medica: Having never been through this before, it was big to see my name get called. There is one place I love and that is San Diego. I am excited to get drafted by the Padres.

What you are your strengths and weaknesses and where do you see yourself fitting into this organization?

Tommy Medica: I am recovering from a shoulder surgery and I want to be back behind the plate as soon as the arm is healthy enough. I can hit for power. I can get on base. I can steal some bags. Anyway I can help out the team and we will see what happens.

You do not see many catchers who can steal some bags. How did that come about?

Tommy Medica: I am pretty athletic. Most catchers are bigger bodies and hit for power. I can run a little bit which is different for a catcher.

Talk to me about the torn labrum. When did the injury happen and where are we today with it?

Tommy Medica: We were in Eugene, Oregon playing University of Oregon at their new field. It was a ground ball to short and I dove under the tag. The guy threw it up the line a little bit and I dislocated the shoulder and tore the labrum. This happened in March of last year and I had surgery in April. We are about 60% or so now. It is about a year or two years to be fully back from the surgery. I am about one year and two months. I still need to strengthen it as much as possible and work out some of the scar tissue.

It didn't affect the hitting?

Tommy Medica: I was cleared to hit about seven months about surgery and it didn't hurt once. I was happy about that.

What do you need to do to improve defensively as a catcher. Let's take the arm out of the equation here.

Tommy Medica: As a catcher, you need to be a full leader on the field. You need to be very vocal. You need to work a lot with the pitchers and learn a whole new pitching staff. You need to get comfortable with them and begin adapting to how people throw there compared with college baseball. There, you play with a guy for three to four years. You go out there and you get a whole bunch of new arms and you need to adapt to a different kind of baseball and learn to control the game.

What is the challenge of working with someone new. You enter the system with 10-15 new guys and you are expected to know them pretty quickly.

Tommy Medica: Catching as many bullpens as possible and working to see what they like to go to. Start calling your own game. When I was back here I probably called about half of the games I caught. Working with the pitchers and seeing what they are comfortable with. The more you catch them, and as you say, it needs to be done quickly, you get to know a pitcher after the first couple times you catch them.

What do you say when you go out to the mound? Anything funny ever happen there?

Tommy Medica: Sometimes. A little joke to cheer them or change up the momentum of what they are doing on the mound. Other times you need to say, just finish this pitch. It is a little bit of both.

Are catchers ultimately valued by the number of wins and losses they get for the pitching staff?

Tommy Medica: Receiving is a big part. It goes unnoticed most of the time. You can receive a pitch well, i.e., get on your knees for a low pitch and give a good target. That definitely helps out pitchers. The guys that catch the majority of games in the big leagues, they can just flat out catch the ball. You can't take away a strike from the pitchers.

How important is pitch selection to your overall game?

Tommy Medica: In college ball, I was hitting in the three hole for the last three years so I needed to be patient. I think it will be different in minor league baseball. I think they will come after you a little bit more. You need to get a good pitch to hit - do not go after the pitcher's pitch, go after what you want to hit until two strikes and then make your adjustments. I do not think much is going to change from the hitting standpoint.

What about the transition to the wood bat?

Tommy Medica: It is definitely different. With a wood bat, you definitely see bats explode. You need to stay tight. I do not have a long swing and I have heard people say that if you have a long swing, you will need to change that when you go to wood. I played on Team USA after my freshman year and swung wood and swung it well there. After that I went to the Cape and swung it well there. It is almost easier sometimes, just try to hit the ball at the barrel instead of trying to do too much at the plate.

Did you feel you were putting some pressure on yourself since your team was an under .500 team and struggling at times. Were you trying to come up with that big hit.

Tommy Medica: Sometimes. There are some types of games you need to just try to get some hits. I did not pressure myself. Sometimes you try to do too much at the plate just to do too much.

What would your teammates say about you and your demeanor on the field?

Tommy Medica: I try to get after it. I do anything I can - get on base, steal a base, get the ball in the dirt. Try to win, plain and simple.

Is there a Major League player you have been compared to?

Tommy Medica: A couple of people compared me to Jason Kendall, when he was younger. He has over 3000 hits and finds a way to get on base. He never hit for much power and think I will develop more power as the years go on. There are not very many really athletic catchers in the Major Leagues so there is not much to look at. There is Joe Mauer, but he does not really steal bases.

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