Padres Prospect Interview: Nate Freiman

People say there are holes in his swing. They say he may be destined to fail. San Diego Padres prospect Nate Freiman, however, has hit over .300 nearly all season in one of the toughest leagues around. And now the power numbers are beginning to form.

When we talked in the Spring, you wanted to do a couple of things mechanically, with your hands and staying with the ball – getting a little bit better separation. How do you feel you have improved in that area?

Nate Freiman: I feel that overall I have improved and working with Tom Tornicasa everyday has been good for all of us and especially for me. I still have a lot of work to do but I am in a good spot and I get a lot of reps. We have great BP throwers and all kinds of time to work.

It seems like your hands, and we talked about this last year about them being up high, and now it seems like they are lower and they are consistent every time. Do you feel that that is true and are you getting comfortable with the approach?

Nate Freiman: I was watching some video yesterday with Torni before the game and they looked like they were all over the place. Yesterday, I was making a conscious effort to be smooth with them and hoping I can take that into today.

And we want to be early too. And you are hitting over .300 and that has to mean some good things too.

Nate Freiman: The key is to be early because I have been late and when you are late you try to speed up your body and that is when everything can go wrong. To be early and to be smooth with your hands - it sounds easy, but it is a lot of work. Try to get better at that everyday.

There are times when I talk to you and it seems that you are kind of critical of yourself. Can that be a bad thing?

Nate Freiman: Probably it can be. There are days when sometimes it is better to just take the positive out of what happens and I am learning to do that. Know when to be positive and when to be critical. So far, I am not going to be happy when I know I could be better.

Several of the infielders have praised your work over at first base helping them out. When you hear stuff like that, how does it make you feel?

Nate Freiman: It makes me feel really good. As a first baseman, you have a lot of responsibilities – you have to turn a double play, be the cut-off man or the relay man, handle pick-offs – but the most important job is to catch throws from the infielders, be on the base and pick throws out of the dirt and stay on the base. That, above all else, is the most important thing I do over there. It makes me feel really good that the guys were nice enough to say that.

Do you feel that your lateral ability has improved as well? It seemed like you were a little stiff last year, but the few days I have been here, you are all over the place.

Nate Freiman: That is just another thing I am working on. Staying on the base and playing around the bases. It is definitely more complicated than one might think. I am lucky to be playing every day and I have lots of time to work on it.

What do you need to do to make it to the next level and make that advancement that we all know you want to make?

Nate Freiman: I need to be on time with my hitting and be smooth. I need to continue to work around the base, pick up guys and when they make a great throw, that's good, but I need to expect a bad throw. I think a guy who can catch the ball over at first and can put the ball in play is trying to get there.

There are a lot of guys on this team that don't get the credit they deserve. Is there a person who you feel is undervalued.

Nate Freiman: I think it is hard to say that he is undervalued because everybody notices … but Griffin Benedict. Hags (Jason Hagerty) is the starting catcher, but Grif is really good. I know when I am out there and go in for mound meetings and see the way he leads the team on the field, he knows exactly what he is doing back there. He is a great hitter and a guy that everybody loves having on the field.

What goes on during those mound meetings?

Nate Freiman: It is definitely not like "Bull Durham" – where we are trying to decide what to get people for their wedding. We haven't had one like that. The funny thing is that we have a real interesting mix of people at the mound meetings. We got three or four guys speaking Spanish and two or three guys speaking English. Sometimes, the mound meeting will be in Spanish if Flo comes out to make a pitching change and sometimes he'll say we need to say it in Spanish and Jason or Grif or I will just kind of stand there. Generally the mound meetings are really positive and constructive. Bronz handles the pitching staff well and our catchers do a good job of calming down the pitchers.

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