Prospect Q&A: Jeremy Slayden

The Phillies selection in the 8th round of the 2005 draft, Jeremy Slayden is hoping to live up to the potential that once projected him as a possible first round pick. Slayden had early college success, then shoulder surgery accompanied by some disappointing numbers, only to wind up his career at Georgia Tech on a strong note.

A left-handed hitter with plus raw power, Slayden ended his high school career in Tennessee with more home runs than anyone not named Todd Helton. A native of Murfeesboro (TN), Slayden went on to hit .348-18-66 at Georgia Tech in 2002, earning freshman All-America honors. A disappointing sophomore season and shoulder surgery followed, but Slayden rebounded to hit a solid .349-11-55 this year in the highly competitve Atlantic Coast Conference. We caught up to Jeremy, a 22-year-old outfielder, at LeLacheur Park in Lowell (MA) before a recent game. 

On his first month of pro ball: "I'm mostly satisfied so far. I like the lifestyle; focusing on baseball all day. My play hasn't been what I'd like yet, but I knew there would be a period to get used to wood bats and better competition. I'm striking out too much, but I'm also taking some pretty good swings. I'm going to get better."

On the adjustments he's making: "Even in college, I knew there were things that were wrong, so I've been tweaking a little in the early weeks. I've changed my stance a little, and am working on taking a shorter path to the ball. I want to be a more complete hitter, and sometimes you have to get worse before you can get better. I'm trying to mix a little of the old with a little of the new to get it right."

On his power and stance: "Most of my power is from right to center. I have occasional power to left field if all parts line up, but my true power is to the pull side. I crowd the plate with a somewhat open stance, and like to turn on balls that are on the outer half. I'll generally try to lay off pitches when I get busted inside."

On his approach at the plate: "I'll focus more up the middle with two strikes, but I'm mostly looking for pitches to drive. I'll look at a pitcher's tendencies, but I also know what I like and look for pitches in certain spots. To some extent, you have to just see and hit. You can't be too complex with your approach."

On his defensive game: "I played right field in college, so learning to play left is an adjustment. The ball comes out there with an opposite spin on it, and my depth perception with a wood bat is a little off. I'll pick it up as time goes by, but right now I'm struggling a bit."

On the effect shoulder surgery has had on his throwing arm: "It's a day-to-day process to get it back to what it was. Some days it feels better than others, and lately it's felt around 90%. I just need to continue working on making it stronger, and can't afford to let up."

On what he learned from his disappointing 2003 season and shoulder injury in 2004: "They were both difficult years, but in many ways they were a blessing. After my strong freshman year, I was really grinding mentally as a sophomore, trying to match it -- or even exceed it. I got pull happy, trying to hit home runs all the time. Then, the next year, I got hurt and wasn't even playing. It was a great life-learning experience. I'm a lot more relaxed and mature now. I enjoy my teammates and the game of baseball a lot more than I used to."


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