Padres Prospect Interview: Griffin Benedict

San Diego Padres prospect Griffin Benedict might be one of the unsung heroes of the Fort Wayne TinCaps second half surge. Hailed by teammates for his unselfish play, Benedict handles the pitching staff well and exerts his leadership on the young position prospects, bettering everyone.

Grif, this year it has been tough to find some playing time for you at times. How difficult is it to keep in rhythm and really focus on what you need to do?

Griffin Benedict: It is definitely a task, but anytime I can get in there it is chance for me to just play hard and show everybody what I can do. It is difficult where you don't get a lot of regular at-bats, but that is definitely not an excuse for any poor performance or bad at-bats. It is good when I get in there on back to back days and get some rhythm down.

What has the progression been like in the hitting department? Are you feeling comfortable out there and what needs to change?

Griffin Benedict: Right off the bat, at the start of the season, I was trying to get my timing down, make sure you are mechanically right, and see all my pitches. At this time in the season, your timing should be down. Focus on making good contacts and hard contacts every day. The full power, the homers, all that will come.

When I talked to a couple of the pitchers, they mentioned you are a tough out. When you hear something like that from your teammates, how does that make you feel?

Griffin Benedict: It feels good. It is definitely a confidence builder that somebody else sees that you are working hard and that you have come a long way. That is the goal. When you are hitting, you want to swing at your pitch and be the hardest out in the line-up, regardless of whether you are hitting 6th or 3rd or 9th. You want to make yourself the hardest out in the lineup. If somebody says that about me, it is a real compliment.

How have you improved as a catcher, commanding the pitching staff, and calling games.

Griffin Benedict: I think I have improved some just knowing these guys a bit better. The more you get to know your pitching staff, the more you know what they want to throw and on what counts and how they perform. When you run up to the mound to talk to them, how to treat them and how they respond to different things. Getting to know a lot of different guys and getting more experienced in dealing with different personalities has helped me out.

Is there a guy you like catching just because he keeps everyone interested in the game with his tempo?

Griffin Benedict: Nick Schumacher is like that. Once they get on the mound, they are ready to go. They have a good tempo. When they are fast, everybody behind is paying attention and it is easier for guys in the outfield when they are not waiting around. If they are getting the ball and getting the right tempo, it keeps the game going.

What has it been like to work with Bronswell Patrick? It seems like you two have a good rapport. You are able to say, "Hey I would like to see a little more of this" and there is a good back and forth between you two.

Griffin Benedict: We try to be as open as possible with our communication lines. I worked under him last year, as well in Eugene. We started a professional friendship there and I think we respect each other and we talk after each inning to see what we can do better the next inning.

Have you ever gotten a guy who was almost tipping the pitch? Can you see that?

Griffin Benedict: Sometimes. You can tell if a pitcher is slowing down his motion, wiggling his fingers, you can see that and run out there and fix it. But a lot of times you are too into the game to notice that. Most of that comes from the dugout. Most of the guys are pretty good at keeping everything in the glove.

What do you need to improve on defensively to take your game to the next level?

Griffin Benedict: I do not need to do anything spectacular. I just need to keep playing my game, block every ball, and put the ball on the bag at second when a runner is stealing. If the pitcher is slow to the plate, then it is my job to not try to do too much. I need to stay within myself, throw the times I can to second, block the balls in the dirt and call a good game. Then I can really help the team.

What are the challenges going out to left field and playing out there a day after you catch?

Griffin Benedict: It is interesting because you don't see the game in that sort of light. I was happy to be out there. Anytime I can get some at-bats, I am willing to try a new position. It is definitely a different look at the field, but anytime you are out there and you are playing, you are in good spot.

Is it tough to play like you're involved in the game.

Griffin Benedict: It is a huge change. When the first fly ball got hit to me, it felt like it took a few seconds to get out there. When you are catching, you are in the play immediately. When you are in the outfield, everything is much slower. But it is an interesting position to play and it is drastically different from catching which is why I think enjoyed it. If I am out there again, I would be happy to be out there.

Who is the one teammate here that you don't want to see barreling down that third base line at you.

Griffin Benedict: Rymer Liriano is a big guy. He moves pretty well. Edinson Rincon is a big guy with some speed. Those two guys can move and I wouldn't want to see them coming home.

We all know your teammates are great and this doesn't take away from any of them you don't mention. But if you could get one teammate to hit behind you all season, who would it be and why?

Griffin Benedict: Preferably, anybody that's hot. I don't think anyone wants to throw to Nate Freiman. He has had a lot of success with mistake pitches and he has hit a lot of good pitches as well. Freiman or Rincon, or anybody that's hot, you want them to hit behind you. You want to be that guy that's hot as well. Anytime you can get somebody who is hitting well, it is good to be in front of them and get some good pitches to hit.

Is there a guy on this team who is undervalued?

Griffin Benedict: Dean Anna. He doesn't get overlooked, but he deserves a lot of credit. He gets a lot of credit from the players, but he is a guy who comes out every day and he can play right, third, short, second. He has the same approach whether he is in the line-up everyday or not. He is really well respected by me and a lot of players because of his approach and his ability to help the team out in any situation.

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