In our latest interview with a Padres minor leaguer for East Village Times, I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Padres outfield prospect Nick Torres.
Originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, Nick Torres got off to a slow start in his first professional season. Following a rough first half year, Torres truly excelled in both Low A and High A for the Padres last season.
Riddled with injuries throughout his high school career, Torres was scouted into his senior year by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Originally planning on going to community college, Torres fell in love with the program and ended up going to school there. After four successful seasons, Torres was drafted by the Padres, allowing him stay close to home for his playing career.
For more specifics on Nick Torre’s career to this point and his profile as a player check out this article posted on EVT previously.
What was it like for you being drafted by the San Diego Padres?
“It was good. It was a surprise actually. I had only been talking to east coast teams, for the most part anyway, and the Padres and I hadn’t had much talking at all. So when they drafted me it was kind of a surprise but it was awesome. It worked out perfectly because it’s close to home and my fiancé was in southern Oregon at the time so I got to go to Eugene and be close to her. Everything just worked out perfectly.”
Were you glad to be drafted by a team in California?
“Yeah. I was prepared not to be but it is definitely something that was awesome. For me to get to be able to play close to home some day, it’s awesome and I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”
What’s your favorite memory from your baseball career?
“My favorite memory I definitely would say is playing in a regional my senior year in college. That was the definitely the most I can remember having in all my years of playing baseball. The intensity and the collectivity of the whole team. Everyone is playing for the same goal. I played a part in some of the best college baseball games, and some of the best baseball games that I have ever been a part of. That was really fun to be a part of those moments and to have the whole community backing us. And feeling the energy in the crowd was awesome.”
Tell me about your time at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
“They kind of came knocking on my door, late my season year. I wasn’t really planning on going anywhere else besides junior college because I really didn’t do much until my senior year. I was plagued by injuries all throughout my first three years of high school but I finally got a chance my senior year. I got a call from him late and it was a blessing in disguise. I went up there, and I didn’t know much about the program, but I got to know the coaches really well. Coach Larry Lee was a baseball whiz, and he just knows his stuff. Probably better than any other coach I’ve ever been around. He’s really good at teaching. Some coaches know so much but they don’t get their message across right. He was the perfect manager. He knew how to manage us kids better than anyone else I had been around. It was awesome to get to play for him and the staff that he had there. We had a really good group. It was definitely something that come me ready to play at the next level. I wasn’t ready out of high school, I wasn’t nearly mature enough off the field or on the field. Playing there and taking on more leadership and responsibility roles and just being on my own forced me to mature and grow up a little bit. Thats certainly something that helped me to play at this level.”
Would you say the adjustment from college baseball to professional baseball was a tough one for you to make?
“What’s funny is that it wasn’t as much a talent adjustment but more of a mental adjustment. You come from college, where you are playing with thirty dudes you’ve been with for four years and you guys have all worked for the same goal day in and day out and living with each other and stuff. It’s all about winning the College World Series and how we can play and produce as a team. Guys on the bench are happy if the team is winning and they contribute in any way they can. Where as in pro ball it’s all about development, and winning takes a back seat. That was one of the things I noticed when I was first drafted. How different the style of play was. Everything in college seemed to be more clean, and it might have just been the college I came from, you know like pitching sequences were different, guys attacked you differently, the game was just different. Something I kind of had to learn is you can’t be so bulldog emotional day in and day out, you have to learn to find some sort of middle ground. Just trying to hammer out how can I get better everyday instead of being balls to the wall all the time like I was in college. For me finding a maturity level and mellowing out in my style of play helps me to stay consistent, and it’s something that I did really well this year which allowed me to play a lot better than when I first got to Eugene.”
Tell me about last season, a true breakout year for you.
“Well I think it was just nice to have a break. Going into the offseason last year I had time to recharge and build my body back up and that was good. I came into last season feeling good and healthy and strong. I worked tirelessly during the offseason to get my swing in a good position to where I felt like I could compete day in and day out. And like I said before maturity as well. Obviously swing mechanics and physicality went into it for sure but a big thing for me was trying to find a middle ground where I can take my emotions out of the equation. I am a very emotional person and I like to play with emotion because it fuels you but I just have to be careful not to give into it too much and understanding that in a season where you’re playing 142 games in 150 some odd days, there’s going to be a lot of ups and a lot of downs and to take whatever ups come and ride them out as long as you can, and take whatever downs and try to move on as quickly as you can. I think that’s one of the biggest things I was able to do. Minimize the valleys and maximize the peaks.”
Any particular coaches or players that have made a big impact on you or who you have had a strong relationship with?
“Definitely there has been a few since I was drafted. Luis Ortiz is incredible. I couldn’t be more happy with the Padres decision to bring him in as our hitting coordinator. Then Larry Lee, my college coach, I never learned as much about the game than I did from him, and Luis Ortiz is right there with him. He knows hitting better than anybody I have ever been around specifically. And yeah he’s just an awesome guy and he is a great coach. He knows how to get his point across without the message getting lost along the way. He knows his stuff really well and he’s just a great person to be around. He makes you want to be better, challenges you to be be better in productive ways. So he is definitely a big influence on me and one of my favorites since I have been with the Padres. There’s been plenty of other guys that I have been lucky to be around that are just good teammates and promote a good atmosphere.”
What do you feel your biggest strength and weakness is?
“I feel that my biggest strength is my mentality, rather than something physical. Obviously I pride myself on my physical ability for sure but there’s a lot of guys that can’t handle the grind or the failures. And I’ve heard coaches say that we’ll take a guy who might not have the ability or might not put up the numbers but there is something about him that makes him a winner. I like to think that that is one of my best qualities. That I am a guy that can promote a winning culture and can help other guys put the team first. And that’s kind of hard to do when you’re all competing for a spot, but that’s something the Padres, our minor league guys, are really promoting at the top of the food chain. They are promoting a team culture and that’s just something I hope trickles down. So that’s something that I feel like is one of my strongest strengths. So just working tirelessly day in and day out and doing anything I can to help my teammates out.”
“To be specific I would think my aggressiveness. I have a tendency to be over aggressive which, I would think is one of the better things to have as a weakness, but it definitely gets me into trouble sometimes. I just have to learn how to dial it back a little bit. As far as not being so aggressive at the plate. Just knowing when the right time is to do certain things. Just continuing to mature. Continuing to learn the game is something I need to work on. Those are definitely some of my weaknesses but I am doing what I can. A lot of experience is helping me and I continue to get better.”
Off the field what kind of hobbies do you have?
“Outside of baseball I like to draw. Constantly doing that just doodling. There’s doodles all over every pad of paper in our house. I also play video games every once in awhile but I am not really a big gamer. I am usually dragging my brother outside to play catch. Really any ball or frisbee or football or doesn’t matter what it is, we’re going to the park around the corner from my house to play catch or whatever. Trying to stay somewhat active but making sure I am having fun too when I have downtime. Just things like that. Hanging out with my family and stuff.”
Have you ever been to Petco Park?
“Yeah actually I’ve been there quite a few times. I went there the first time with a buddy of mine, Bobby Webb, and I couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16, and we went down with his parents for a day game and we watched them play the Marlins. I remember Hanley Ramirez was still playing shortstop for the Marlins. It was a really fun experience and I would have never thought my life would come circle. I have put myself in a position to maybe play there some day. We also got to go there during instructs and we got to play at Petco in an instructional league game against the Texas Rangers instructional league team. That was really cool, got to take batting practice and hit in the cages and everything and we actually went back at the beginning of December and we got to take part in lifting, hitting in the cage and stuff like that. Just being around the park and seeing yourself playing there some day. Hanging out in the locker room, working out with these big leaguers and seeing yourself there. Been there quite a few times but it’s awesome each time I get to go and it doesn’t take away from the experience at all.”
Favorite team/player growing up?
“Everybody gives me a hard time for this but growing up the Yankees were always my favorite team. I was the biggest Derek Jeter fan and I am sitting in my room right now and I have Jeter posters and Yankee posters everywhere. My whole room is Yankee’d out and I never grew out of it. I admire Derek Jeter so much and he was always hard nosed and more than anything that’s what I like. I’m not big on guys constantly puffing their chests and being loud and stuff. As much as I like flair, I like guys who can play with style and work hard. So yeah he’s always been my favorite player but there was a couple other guys as well.”
How long have you been playing baseball and when did you realize it was what you loved to do?
“I have been playing baseball since I was about five years old. My two sports growing up were baseball and soccer. My dad played soccer at Sac State so he was always my coach growing up and it always seemed that when I was playing soccer I wanted to be playing baseball and when I was playing baseball I wanted to be playing soccer. It wasn’t until high school that I knew baseball was the sport I wanted to pursue. That was when I realized that I was good at this and I could continue to do this if I worked my tail off. I would say that it wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I thought I could get drafted and play professionally.”