Padres Prospect Interview: Luis Durango

Portland, OR: Luis Durango was signed by the Padres in 2006 out of Panama. He got off to a fast start winning two batting titles in the first two leagues that he played in; the Arizona League in 2006 and the Northwest League in 2007.

Durango, 24, is known for his blazing speed but also has exceptional hand-eye coordination and a very good eye for the strike zone. While it is his offensive potential that gets most fans excited, his greatest growth may have been as a defensive player in strengthening his arm and taking much better routes to the ball. He has improved enough that he is now a competent center fielder, which takes best advantage of his his greatest strength; his speed.

This year he has already been up to the big club and a spate of recent injuries saw him back in PETCO.

What has been your biggest improvement since last year.

Luis Durango: I think my defense has gotten better. I've been able to get to more balls that I wasn't able to last year and am really trying to learn how to play defense.

How much has your arm improved since I saw you in Fort Wayne a few years ago?

Luis Durango: I worked strengthening my shoulder quite a bit, which has made me much stronger with my throws.

It seems like your base is much stronger this year, you aren't moving your back foot as much as you did last year. In some ways you were similar to a Japanese hitter.

Luis Durango: I've tried to stop doing that as much this year. I want to put the ball in the ground and hit with a little more power.

When did you become a switch-hitter?

Luis Durango: When I was 17, they wanted me to start hitting from the left to take advantage of my speed.

Are you better now from the left side since you hit more often from there?

Luis Durango: The left side is a little bit better because I get so many more at-bats.

How good did it feel to play well on your first trip to the big leagues because of all the hard work that you put in?

Luis Durango: It felt great because I had always prepared for this; to have a chance and to make the most of an opportunity.

What is the one part of your game that you are tying to improve the most to get back to the big leagues?

Luis Durango: I need to work a little more on my defense and base-running.

A special thank you to Ernesto Frieri for providing translation.

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