Editor’s Note: Jake Bauers is currently the first baseman for the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the San Diego Padres’ Low-A affiliate of the Midwest League. Recently, our Minor League Coverage Director, Devin Sparks, spoke with Bauers by phone to find out a little bit more about him, and to see how the transition from high school to professional baseball is going. The interview has been transcribed from a recorded conversation. ~BB
Devin Sparks: You grew up in Huntington Beach, were you an Angels or Dodgers fan growing up?
Jake Bauers: I was never really a fan of a team, I was just more of a fan of the sport.
DS: I guess it’s a good thing you were drafted by the Padres then!
JB: It was cool to be drafted by a Southern California team, that’s for sure.
DS: Did you know you were getting drafted?
JB: I knew I was gonna go, I just didn’t know when. Padres got me, and now I’m here and I couldn’t be happier with the organization.
DS: If you weren’t drafted by a certain round, would you have chosen not to sign with a team, or did you plan on going no matter what?
JB: Oh yeah, I just had a number and I kind of stuck to it, so I’m pretty happy with that.
DS: What was your cut off point?
JB: Definitely the tenth, if I didn’t go on day two, than I wasn’t going.
DS: Was there a school that had offered you a scholarship if you didn’t get drafted?
JB: Yeah, I had a scholarship to University of Hawaii.
DS: You didn’t make Fort Wayne at the beginning of the season, instead you started the year in Arizona, were you frustrated with that decision?
JB: It wasn’t what I wanted obviously. But, you know, there wasn’t much that I could do about it. You know, I did what I needed to do. It’s just certain guys need to go certain places and it didn’t exactly work out, me being the youngest guy. Just had to pay my dues in Arizona a little bit.
DS: Did you have to make any adjustments to your game to get called up?
JB: No, I mean, to me it was just a matter of time. You know, I was doing pretty well down there and just waiting to get the chance.
DS: Did you have any goals at the beginning of the season before you found out where you were getting assigned to?
JB: My goal was to make the Fort Wayne team out of spring training – when that didn’t work out my goal was still the same. Just get up here and spend the whole year here.
DS: So you didn’t have any additional goals of advancing through the ranks during the season?
JB: I think that’s a little premature, getting call-up after call-up at 18. You know I’m already the youngest player in this league and I’m doing pretty well here.
DS: Is that weird?
JB: No, I mean that’s how it’s been my whole life. I’ve always been one of the youngest kids. I’m pretty used to it.
DS: Did the team give you any specific goals at the beginning of the season?
JB: No, nothing like that. They want to see you go out and have a quality year, not try to do to much and just kind of stay within yourself.
DS: What has changed in your game from last year?
JB: Just the mental side of it. Instead of just going up there and swinging what they are throwing, I’m looking for pitches and when I’m getting them, I’m not missing them.
DS: I’ve noticed when you’re not getting hits, you’re still getting on base with walks, is that something you’ve tried to add to your game this year?
JB: No, I’ve always had a pretty good eye for the strike zone. I don’t usually strike out as much, but of course as pitching gets better they are just gonna get you some times. Walks are definitely something that I’m usually pretty good at.
DS: What have you struggled with this season in Fort Wayne?
JB: Just staying consistent. You know, I had great first half, unfortunately the second half has been a little rough. But, I’m making my adjustments, trying to get back right and I’m getting there so far.
DS: Is there someone that’s helping you get back on track?
JB: We got our hitting coach, Morgan Burkhart. He’s been working with me a lot. You know, every day before BP – after BP – whatever we need. We’re getting our good work in.
DS: Some people would argue that it’s the player, not the coach that eventually gets the player back on track. Do you think the hitting coach has a lot to do with helping a hitter get back on track?
JB: It all depends on the person. You either want help or you don’t. At this point they can’t make you come in and get extra work. They can’t make you ask them about things. It’s all up to you, you know?
DS: Best advice this season?
JB: Just try to stay out of my own head. Of course, I’m over thinking things most of the time and everyone’s just trying to cool me down and I’m just trying to stay within myself, like I said before.
DS: Do you have any goals for next season?
JB: No, not yet. That’s pretty far away. Just trying to focus on finishing this year.
DS: With so much that can happen between Single A and the Majors (getting traded, injured, called up, etc), is the clubhouse still team oriented or are players looking out for themselves?
JB: We got a pretty good team thing going on here in Fort Wayne. We like to win games. When we lose, everyone’s upset. Because it’s not only us players, we’ve got a manager, we’ve got coaches who they ride on winning. And of course you want to do well for yourself, but you also want to see the team win.
DS: When the team’s not winning do you feel extra pressure on not allowing your own performance to slip?
JB: Yeah, if we’re not winning, it can be pretty rough.
DS: Favorite all-time player?
JB: Troy Glaus.
DS: Of all the minor league teams that you’ve played so far, which one is your favorite team name or logo?
JB: (laughs) I like the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Their logo is pretty out there. I think it’s a piece of corn with a baseball cap on.
DS: Is there a favorite minor league team name that you haven’t played yet?
JB: Yeah, the Akron Rubber Ducks. I like that one.
DS: Fort Wayne is a little different from Southern California. What’s the worst part about playing in Fort Wayne?
JB: Definitely the weather earlier in the season when it was like thirty, forty degrees. Going out and playing a baseball game was pretty rough.
DS: Have you been able to find a suitable replacement for California burritos in Fort Wayne?
JB: Nah man, definitely not. Nothing like that.
Editor’s Note: As of this publishing, Jake Bauers is sixth in the Midwest League in hitting, with a .298 batting average, is sixth in on-base percentage, is in the top-20 for runs batted in with 57, the top-30 in walks, the top-25 in slugging percentage, and is in the top-15 for OPS. He’s a young, rising star in the Padres’ organization. Keep an eye on Jake Bauers moving forward! ~BB