2006 Draft Preview: Q&A with Matt LaPorta

As the NCAA baseball season approaches, scouts and scouting directors will get ready to hit the road and will be on the look out for this year's top draftees. One of those potential top draftees is University of Florida slugger, Matt LaPorta, who some have even projected as a possible top-five pick. We recently sat down with Matt for a Q&A session.

Scout.com: Matt, as we get closer to the season beginning, what are some of your goals for 2006?

Matt LaPorta: I just want to get back to Omaha and compete for a national championship. I think we definitely have the team to do it with and we have a great chance at getting to Omaha and winning. We just need to keep working hard as a group because he have the talent in place to do it.

Scout.com: You've played third base and first base in your college career. In your opinion, do you think that you are better at one or the other?

LaPorta: You know, I really think I'm equally strong at each position. I really don't feel as if I'm weaker defensively at one or the other. So, I think it's still a toss up as to where I might be playing long term. I've been playing more first base in our spring practices, but I think I'll be playing a lot at each position once the regular season starts.

Scout.com: Matt, not only are you considered be a near lock first round pick in this year's draft, but possibly a top 15 overall pick. Is that difficult to keep out of your mind with the college season still ahead of you?

LaPorta: Oh, it's definitely hard not to think about. I've obviously gotten a lot of attention from a lot of different people and everyone is speculating that I could go really high in the draft. And, I think that's great and I'm hoping it works out as well as people are speculating. But, right now, I have to keep that out of my mind because helping this team win a national championship is my main focus at this point.

Scout.com: People always wonder where a guy like you gets his power from. Would you say that it is just a gift that you have or something you have had to work hard to produce?

LaPorta: You can always work to build on something you have. I mean, you can work on your weaknesses and get better, but you might not always turn them into a strength. I've worked on getting stronger and training, but I think my power is something that God blessed me with. And, I'm lucky enough that I've learned how to really utilize it and turn it into great results on the field. If I didn't work on getting stronger and keep working out though, it would just be a wasted gift. Having a gift is not enough.

Scout.com: Coming off a monster 2005 season, it is hard to imagine that you could hit any better in 2006. But, what improvements are you looking to make this spring?

LaPorta: I was real happy with how I did in 2005, but someone like me, I always want to get better. I don't want to sit back and be satisfied with last year. I'd like to come up big in more clutch spots and really be efficient in driving guys in. I mean, that's my job, driving guys in. I'd like to get more hits in those big spots and put some more runs on the board for us.

Scout.com: For someone as talented as you are, you obviously have an abundance of strong attributes. But, which would you say is your strongest?

LaPorta: I'd have to say that my work ethic is what really sets me apart. I would never be as good as I am today if I didn't work as hard as I do. But, another thing is that I just like to have fun. I take it just serious enough to have the drive to win, but I know enough to realize that this is a game and it should be fun the way you play it.

Scout.com: What Major League player would you best compare yourself to in terms of approach at the plate?

LaPorta: Well, I've heard a lot of different comparisons. Some people say Paul Konerko. But, last year, I checked out the swings of Aramis Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Adrian Beltre. I saw a lot of similarities between me and those guys in the way we approach each at-bat and how our swings look. So, I think I can really learn a lot from watching them.

Scout.com: Matt, you had the option of bypassing college and signing out of high school. How happy are you now that you made that decision?

LaPorta: Oh wow, yeah. I think it was a great decision. College just helps you so much with maturity and just learning what it takes to play at the next level. My advice to anyone would be unless you are a first round pick, go to college. You will improve so much in every part of your game. It is definitely the way to go. I know, for me, I wouldn't have been nearly the same player if I signed out of high school.

Scout.com: Often times, scouts have trouble scouting power hitters as amateurs because they use aluminum bats. I understand you have used wood before, but do you feel it could give you any trouble down the road?

LaPorta: No, not at all. I don't think it should be any problem. I actually like using the wood better. It forces you to have correct swing mechanics and not over swing. I've used it before and I don't think it should be a problem for me in the future.

Scout.com: Matt, what is the most important thing you have learned since you began playing for Florida that you will carry with you for the rest of your career?

LaPorta: It has been great and I give my coaches so much credit for my success. I've learned the value of work ethic and just the right way to play the game. You have to take the game one pitch at a time and let things happen. You shouldn't try to overdo anything and just play your game.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nScout.com: Matt, as we get closer to the season beginning, what are some of your goals for 2006?
\r\n
\r\nMatt LaPorta: I just want to get back to Omaha and compete for a national championship. I think we definitely have the team to do it with and we have a great chance at getting to Omaha and winning. We just need to keep working hard as a group because he have the talent in place to do it.
\r\n
\r\nScout.com: You've played third base and first base in your college career. In your opinion, do you think that you are better at one or the other?
\r\n
\r\nLaPorta: You know, I really think I'm equally strong at each position. I really don't feel as if I'm weaker defensively at one or the other. So, I think it's still a toss up as to where I might be playing long term. I've been playing more first base in our spring practices, but I think I'll be playing a lot at each position once the regular season starts.
\r\n
\r\nScout.com: Matt, not only are you considered be a near lock first round pick in this year's draft, but possibly a top 15 overall pick. Is that difficult to keep out of your mind with the college season still ahead of you?
\r\n
\r\nLaPorta: Oh, it's definitely hard not to think about. I've obviously gotten a lot of attention from a lot of different people and everyone is speculating that I could go really high in the draft. And, I think that's great and I'm hoping it works out as well as people are speculating. But, right now, I have to keep that out of my mind because helping this team win a national championship is my main focus at this point.
\r\n
\r\nScout.com: People always wonder where a guy like you gets his power from. Would you say that it is just a gift that you have or something you have had to work hard to produce?
\r\n
\r\nLaPorta: You can always work to build on something you have. I mean, you can work on your weaknesses and get better, but you might not always turn them into a strength. I've worked on getting stronger and training, but I think my power is something that God blessed me with. And, I'm lucky enough that I've learned how to really utilize it and turn it into great results on the field. If I didn't work on getting stronger and keep working out though, it would just be a wasted gift. Having a gift is not enough.
\r\n
\r\nScout.com: Coming off a monster 2005 season, it is hard to imagine that you could hit any better in 2006. But, what improvements are you looking to make this spring?
\r\n
\r\nLaPorta: I was real happy with how I did in 2005, but someone like me, I always want to get better. I don't want to sit back and be satisfied with last year. I'd like to come up big in more clutch spots and really be efficient in driving guys in. I mean, that's my job, driving guys in. I'd like to get more hits in those big spots and put some more runs on the board for us.
\r\n
\r\nScout.com: For someone as talented as you are, you obviously have an abundance of strong attributes. But, which would you say is your strongest?
\r\n
\r\nLaPorta: I'd have to say that my work ethic is what really sets me apart. I would never be as good as I am today if I didn't work as hard as I do. But, another thing is that I just like to have fun. I take it just serious enough to have the drive to win, but I know enough to realize that this is a game and it should be fun the way you play it.
\r\n
\r\nScout.com: What Major League player would you best compare yourself to in terms of approach at the plate?
\r\n
\r\nLaPorta: Well, I've heard a lot of different comparisons. Some people say Paul Konerko. But, last year, I checked out the swings of Aramis Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Adrian Beltre. I saw a lot of similarities between me and those guys in the way we approach each at-bat and how our swings look. So, I think I can really learn a lot from watching them.
\r\n
\r\nScout.com: Matt, you had the option of bypassing college and signing out of high school. How happy are you now that you made that decision?
\r\n
\r\nLaPorta: Oh wow, yeah. I think it was a great decision. College just helps you so much with maturity and just learning what it takes to play at the next level. My advice to anyone would be unless you are a first round pick, go to college. You will improve so much in every part of your game. It is definitely the way to go. I know, for me, I wouldn't have been nearly the same player if I signed out of high school.
\r\n
\r\nScout.com: Often times, scouts have trouble scouting power hitters as amateurs because they use aluminum bats. I understand you have used wood before, but do you feel it could give you any trouble down the road?
\r\n
\r\nLaPorta: No, not at all. I don't think it should be any problem. I actually like using the wood better. It forces you to have correct swing mechanics and not over swing. I've used it before and I don't think it should be a problem for me in the future.
\r\n
\r\nScout.com: Matt, what is the most important thing you have learned since you began playing for Florida that you will carry with you for the rest of your career?
\r\n
\r\nLaPorta: It has been great and I give my coaches so much credit for my success. I've learned the value of work ethic and just the right way to play the game. You have to take the game one pitch at a time and let things happen. You shouldn't try to overdo anything and just play your game.
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