FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Grant Little was taken in last year’s Competitive Balance B round by the Padres, the pick San Diego famously acquired for the now departed Phil Hughes and his $7 million dollar salary they are on the hook for.
Little, 22, a native of Midland, Texas, was a star for the Texas Tech and hit .370/.462/.642 as a draft-eligible sophomore. Before committing to the Red Raiders, Little starred for Midland Christian High School, twice making all-state as a combo guard.
Little is an athletic 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and has seen time in both center and left field. He was chosen as high as he was according to Baseball America, because of his athleticism and ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball. There was some talk of moving him into the infield, but the Padres current depth in the middle infield make that unlikely.
Last year with the Dust Devils, he hit .262/.351/.315 in the Northwest League and this season with the TinCaps he is at .253/.338/.310.
We caught up with him on our recent trip out to the Summit City.
MadFriars: When I spoke to you last year, you were coming off of a long college season. How do you feel now compared to last year?
Grant Little: I’ve had a little oblique strain, but other than that I’ve felt pretty good. All of the weather changes have taken some getting used too. One night it’s cold, the next it’s warmer.
Hopefully, it will keep staying warm.
You always hear about the Latin American guys having trouble adjusting to the weather, but it also affects so many of the players from California, Florida and like you, Texas.
Grant Little: It was cold in West Michigan the other night and it felt nearly 50 degrees and it was almost June. It was just a really different environment for me.
What is the biggest difference in the off-season and being a pro?
Grant Little: You have a lot more time on your hands. I had to learn how to manage my time. During the season you are playing every day and so much of your day is taken up. Then you get off and you don’t have anything to do.
I have a bunch of friends back home. So they made it easier for me to adjust. But it’s also good to have some time off to travel and do other things you don’t get to do during the season.
The flip side is that now you are playing every day it’s much tougher to take a game or two off as you could in college to make the adjustments.
Grant Little: In Tri-City, we had less off days so I got a pretty good grasp of what playing every day looked like and how to make adjustments. Here the season is longer, but I think it’s going ok.
What part of your game do you want to see pick up in the second half?
Grant Little: The first month and a half was difficult with the weather and trying to get more power. I’ve been working on getting the ball in the air more which I think will help.
How about the speed part of your game?
Grant Little: I like to run, but a lot of time there are people on base in front of me. If I see that a guy is slow to the plate or that the catcher is having some problems – I’ll go. I really work on trying to pick and choose when I go because when I run it’s to try to help the team not make an out.
Defensively you have played both left and center field this season. Which one do you enjoy playing more?
Grant Little: I enjoy playing center field more because it’s more fun. You can just run to whatever you can get too and you get a really good look at the ball. I’ve played a lot of games in left field, but I’m fine in either place.
Also, nearly every baseball player is going to say they would rather be in center for the reasons I just said. You can cover ground and make a lot of plays.
What I enjoy most is being in the lineup.
We talked about this last year. In your draft class you had a lot of good basketball players; you, Ryan Weathers, Dylan Coleman, and Owen Miller. Which one of you talks the most trash about how good you once were?
Grant Little: [laughs] Probably me. I bring up the whole family background, so yeah, it’s me. A tournament among us would be great until someone rolled an ankle.