WASHINGTON, D.C.—Three of the Padres’ top prospects were on display Sunday for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Before the game, we had an opportunity for a quick chat with all three Padres participants – shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. (Dominican Republic) and second baseman Luis Urias (Mexico) for the World Team, and outfielder Buddy Reed for the U.S. Team.
Fernando Tatis, Jr.
What was the biggest adjustment that you made in Double-A this year?
Fernando Tatis, Jr.: In the first month I think I was trying to do too much because Nelson Wolff is a big stadium as were some of the other parks. I was getting big at the plate, but got shorter and worked on getting my pitch.
Did you lessen your leg kick?
Fernando Tatis, Jr.: They talked to me about reducing a little bit. Right now it really depends on the situation on how much I do or don’t use it.
In the past when we have interviewed you, a frequent topic is how much your Dad has taught you about baseball. With the struggles that you faced earlier in the year, how much did he teach you about the mental part of the game?
Fernando Tatis, Jr.: I think you have to believe in yourself and know that you can play this game. I know I wasn’t really doing that much differently but sometimes you don’t have success even when you are doing things that are correct, so I wasn’t panicking – that’s just baseball.
I knew that someday it was going to click and it did.
How would you describe your game?
Fernando Tatis, Jr.: I’m a player that wants to be on every part of the field, hitting, running and fielding. Every time I’m working out I’m thinking of how I can become a better player.
How tall are you now and what do you weigh?
Fernando Tatis, Jr.: I’m six-foot-four and 205 pounds.
I thought you had one of the better tweets when you responded to a former San Diego Union-Tribune writer tweeting that you might not be that good. You stepped back and just laughed at it with your own tweet. How were you able to do that?
Fernando Tatis, Jr.: I usually don’t pay that much attention to what people say about me but this time I wanted to show that guy that I wasn’t worried. This game is tough, but as we were just talking about, there are ups and downs.
I know who I am and what I can do.
Phillip Wellman, who managed you in San Antonio last year, talked about an adjustment you’ve made in your stride this season. Can you tell us a little about it?
Luis Urias: I’m trying to be more square to the ball so I can get to both the inside and outside pitches. It has really helped a lot.
When I interviewed you earlier this year in El Paso, you talked about how you were facing pitchers with better secondary pitches as opposed to Double-A where the velocity is better. What is more difficult for you?
Luis Urias: I think Triple-A because they kind of play with you. They change speeds and locations better. So far, it’s been harder than I thought.
How big a thrill is this for you to be here?
Luis Urias: I am really excited to be here representing the Padres and Mexico. It means a lot to me and really makes me want to keep working and get better.
How good does it feel when your performance on the field is starting to match the tools that people have always written about you having?
Buddy Reed: It’s a great feeling and a blessing. I’ve put in a lot of hard work. Baseball is a game of failure and the biggest thing for me is sticking with my work and routine on both the offensive and defensive side.
I always thought you worked really hard, but you made some adjustments in the offseason. Was one becoming more spread out at the plate?
Buddy Reed: In a sense, they wanted me to use my legs more and get a better base. The main thing is to feel comfortable. I changed my whole swing in Australia [where Reed played winter baseball] to where it is now.
I’ve been putting up good numbers and hope to continue with the players and coaching staff around me.
Australia is not a bad place to go find your swing.
Buddy Reed: I’ve been there a few times for vacation, it’s a great place. Definitely a place I would go to again and maybe even move to after my career.
You haven’t always been this aggressive on the bases in the organization. You are not only stealing bases at a good rate, but your percentage has been outstanding.
Buddy Reed: I had 12 stolen bases in Fort Wayne last year. Chris Kemp [Padres’ Director of International Scouting] told me that I had a gift and I needed to use it more.
With me getting on base more this season, they have given me the green light. I like getting in scoring position for my teammates. If I’m on first base and you hit a ball into the gap, I’m scoring. Before I never really got the chance to run and [Storm Manager] Edwin Rodriguez gave me a chance to show my talents and it’s really paid off.
You were a very good soccer player in high school. Who did you have in the World Cup and what did you think of it?
Buddy Reed: My teams were Nigeria and Senegal, but they both got beat early. The World Cup was great this year. When it got down to the final four I wanted Belgium to win because my favorite player is Eden Hazard and I like a few other guys on their team too.
I’m glad they covered it here in the US. I was getting up every morning to watch it and really enjoyed it. It’s a great sport.