Padres Prospect Interview: Wes Cunningham

Eugene, OR: Wes Cunningham was taken in the 17th-round by the San Diego Padres in the 2010 draft out of Murray State. Although the Ohio Valley Conference is not the biggest draw for top prospects, Cunningham dominated the competition his last two years, hitting .411/.466/.698 his junior year and .408/.487/.824 this season.

Many scouts believe the reason why we wasn't taken earlier were concerns over his ability to hit for power and where he would eventually end up defensively. Although with 46 of his 95 hits going for extra-bases and 22 over the wall; it seems he may prove many wrong before its all over.

This season in Eugene, he has seen time at both corner outfield slots and first base with the majority of his time coming in left field.

The left-handed hitting native of Louisville has so far shown he can handle multiple positions defensively and some have speculated that he may even have the ability to play second.

Can you give us a little bit of background on yourself?

Wes Cunningham: I went to Louisville East which was a pretty big school in the city. I chose Murray State because a buddy of mine had signed early with them and my junior year I didn't play much because I was out most of the year with mononucleosis. I came back looking to put up some numbers in my senior year, because no one really knew who I was - I was a catcher then - and they came to watch my buddy after they signed him and they offered me a spot.

They offered me the best deal and I took it.

I always ask guys like you this. As someone who throws right-handed how did you get to be a left-handed hitter?

Wes Cunningham: That is a good question. I remember when I was little and my parents tried to switch me so they could give me my brother's hand me down golf clubs and it didn't work. I don't know, it has just come naturally and has always worked for me and has really helped my career.

You have a real different stance. You are kind of wide at the plate with your elbow down low. It seems a little different from what you usually see.

Wes Cunningham: One of my problems early on in college I would take two or sometimes even three strides which screwed up my balance. So I widened out my stance which gave me more balance. So now I just pick my foot up and put it down.

The elbow being lower allows me to keep my bat in the zone longer. When my hands were up I tried to do too much.

How much have you played with wooden bats? When we interview guys out here this is always the biggest adjustment but then again most of you have played with wood in the summer.

Wes Cunningham: Last summer I played 50 games with wood in the Jayhawk Collegiate League and got used to it.

It is a bit of a transition now, especially since our last college game is so close to the start of the season here. Its always a big adjustment because the sweet spot is so much smaller and you have to put a better swing on it. Its a challenge that I have overcome in the past and I'll do it again.

The whole thing is you have to be more precise with it and it will go nearly as far.

Wes Cunningham: Yeah, that is the whole key. The margin for error is a lot smaller.

You signed pretty quick with the team.

Wes Cunningham: Yeah as a senior you might say my options were limited [laughs].

You played first base in college is that where they plan to put you?

Wes Cunningham: My scout who drafted me said I would play some first but more in left. I'm comfortable either at first or in the outfield.

Any chance they are going to make you squat again behind the plate?

Wes Cunningham: [laughs]I hope not. I like my speed and everytime I was back there its just tough on the knees.

You sound like someone that has caught quite a bit. Usually when I ask guys who have done that a little they talk about how much they enjoy controlling the game from back there.

Wes Cunningham: My speed has always been part of my game and every time I get back there I really feel it. I still feel it a little bit and I haven't really caught since high school.

If speed is part of your game could you play center?

Wes Cunningham: I could but really haven't been out in the outfield in awhile so left is a better fit for me right now.

What is your biggest goal in the NWL?

Wes Cunningham: I don't really have any numerical goals. For me its about putting good swings on the ball and hitting it hard. Baseball is the kind of game that you can only control it when you hit it.

As long as I hit it hard then I'm doing what I want to do.

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