The San Diego Padres are loaded with pitching in their minor league system.
Adrian Morejon, Cal Quantrill, Eric Lauer, Michel Baez, Logan Allen, Joey Lucchesi, Anderson Espinoza, Jacob Nix, and company provide an excellent nucleus of pitchers to potentially build around. They are all between the ages of 18-22 and still have their whole professional careers ahead of them. The pitching department seems taken care of, but there is a need for young position players within the organization.
Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Urias, Josh Naylor, Jorge Ona, Hudson Potts, and others are a great start to revitalizing the franchise, but the team does need more offensive weapons in the long run. They addressed their catching need in the 2017 draft, as they selected Luis Campusano and Blake Hunt with the team’s second and third selections in the draft. Both high school backstops have a tremendous future and should both be solid contributors behind the dish for the team.
Immediately after selecting the two catchers, the Padres and A.J. Preller went back into the high school ranks, as they selected Mason House out of a school in Texas. The left-handed hitter has a beautiful swing and can really cover some ground in the outfield.
I asked Mason about the crazy ride he has been on in these past few months. Going from playing in high school to being away from home and playing stiff competition in Arizona has to be difficult. He has been adjusting, but I was curious how he felt. “It has been a fun ride. Coming from high school seeing average talent everyday, to coming out here and seeing some of the best from across the country. I’m enjoying being out here everyday and being able to work with these coaches. Getting the opportunity to perfect my craft.” He has an excellent work ethic and is soaking up information like a sponge. The young outfielder is still a work in progress, but you can certainly see the upside with him.
The word about House prior to the draft was that he was a late bloomer. I asked him about that and what his reaction to the whole label. “I don’t believe I was a late bloomer. I was just a little late to the party. I really didn’t have my name out there my senior year. But everything worked out and I certainly can’t complain.”
House was committed to Oklahoma State and I asked him how tough the decision was to accept the Padres generous offer. “Going into the draft I knew that if I was drafted at a certain number, it would be wise to go into professional baseball. My dream wasn’t to play in the College World Series. It was to play in one at the Major League Baseball level. The decision wasn’t that tough, but I did have some consideration for both… In the end, I was set on becoming a Padre.”
Being a Texas high school athlete, I imagined this 6′ 3″ athletic young man had some football in his background. I asked Mason about it and he told me “I guess you could say I played football. I tried in seventh grade, and it was a terrible idea. Football was definitely not for me.” He is correct. The game of football isn’t for everyone. He made a wise choice as his skill on the baseball field was quite evident.
Upon researching Mason, several publications had him listed as a switch hitter, even going as far as showing his splits batting from both sides of the box. I asked Mason about that, and he told me he isn’t sure why some places have him listed as a switch hitter. He only swings from the left-handed batters box and he does that quite well. We both laughed about the switch hitting thing and we moved on from there.
The Padres have shown early confidence in this young man, as they have given him multiple at bats against left-handed pitchers thus far. In fact, House was in the lineup a few days prior to our interview against Mackenzie Gore. I asked him about that game and his approach against southpaws in general. “I just tried to look at him as not being Mackenzie Gore. I just went in there and looked at him as just another left-handed pitcher in my way (for success). I tried to stay up the middle on him and most lefties. He jammed me and I ended up getting a little base hit in one of my at bats (against him). I ended up going 1-2 off of him. I just tried to stay as simple as I could against Mackenzie.”
Often, transitioning to wood bats can be difficult for young players. I asked House about swinging the wood bat and how he has adjusted to it in the AZL. “The past two Summers, I spent most of the time swinging a wood bat. To me, it wasn’t much of a huge adjustment, as I used a wood bat in high school during BP everyday. I just love the sound of the ball off of a wood bat. I’m trying to get my swing more consistent, more compact.” There are constant adjustments necessary for success in the game of baseball. House is just starting off his career and the little tweaks and changes are slowly coming. He is not opposed to learning and will never turn down an opportunity to potentially grow as a player. The Padres were wise to select him where they did as he is just starting to come into his own as a player.
Defensively, House has had a lot of experience in center field. He has made starts all over the outfield, but has made the majority of his appearances at center. I wanted to know how he envisions himself in the future. “I would like to stay in center. I’ve been there the past two years. I’m comfortable there. But if they want me in right field, then that is where I will play.” Again, he showcases the correct attitude. He views himself as a center fielder, but at the same time he will do exactly what the team asks of him. There is no debate about him being a team player.
The San Diego Padres farm system is very young. Mason House joins a very young group of young men from many different parts of the world. I asked him about some friendships he may have developed and his thoughts in general about this young Padre minor league system. “Coming in, I wasn’t really sure. I didn’t know anybody out here. My roommate, Jonny Homza from Alaska, is a really great guy. I got lucky there. I’ve honestly enjoyed everyone out here.”
I often ask prospects about themselves and the perception they have of their tools. I asked Mason about his best asset on the baseball diamond and I also asked him what he needs to work on in order to get into that next level of his game. “My bat is probably my best tool. I bring a lot to the table with it. Especially in time… after seeing high school pitching (low 80’s everyday) to what I’m seeing now. I think I’ve made a good adjustment so far. Still a few more things I need to work on, but I think the older I get, the more I will bring to the table with my bat. I think I do need to work on my outfielding a little bit. The ball isn’t hit here like it was in high school. My footwork and such have come a long way since I first got here. But I do have a lot more work to do.” Very honest answers from this young man as he speaks about his craft.
We wrapped our conversation by speaking about goals. I wanted to know if Mason had set forth any for the upcoming 2018 season. It will be his first in pro ball and he knows he has a long hill to climb. “To simply improve everyday. At the end of next year I just want to know I got that much better as a baseball player.” As a young player that is all you can ask for. His goals are simple and attainable. Progression is the key with this young man.
In talking to Mason House, I get a great sense how excited he was to be a professional ball player. He takes pride in the uniform he wears and that bodes well for his development within the Padres’ system. Mason House might be late to the party but, as we all know, those who arrive late often stay to the very end. House has unlimited upside and potential. With a little luck and a ton of hard work, he could very well be a solid major leaguer one day. Do not sleep on Mason House.