Lake Elsinore, California
On a rare day off from the lineup for Hudson Potts, I caught up the young third baseman to pick his brain a little bit about the game of baseball and where he is with his progression in the sport. Here is what the infielder had to say.
I have seen Hudson Potts plenty of times in the locker room and such, but never had the pleasure of speaking to him.
That changed on Thursday in Lake Elsinore when we spoke for a few minutes before the game. I found the young infielder very respectful and an intent listener. As I asked my series of questions, he looked straight into my eyes and patiently listened to everything I had to say before evoking any response. That tells me that he prefers to soak information in. With a trait like that, he should go far in the game of baseball.
We first started talking about California. I wanted to know if Hudson was enjoying his time here. “It’s fun. I’ve never really been out here. I was out here for a few tournaments and such but never lived out here. I like it.” He has a laid-back feel to him and California life suits the soft-spoken infielder. He seems content with being a member of the Storm.
I had to ask about Fernando Tatis Jr., as I knew the two of them were pretty close. “I love him. He’s a great guy. I have known him since I first signed. We have played together ever since. He is super talented in every aspect of the game. He can do things with the bat and is a great defender at short.” More words of confidence about the savior. Hudson saw Tatis firsthand and got to know what kind of person he is. It really does goes way beyond the accolades he accomplishes on the baseball diamond for Tatis.
During the spring, Hudson was invited into big league camp. He had an opportunity to rub elbows with the veterans on the Padres. We spoke a little bit about his time there and what it meant to him.”It was definitely fun. It was great to get that opportunity. I learned a lot of stuff. Not necessarily from talking to them (major leaguers), but listening to different conversations. I got a lot of info from Wil Myers when he did his rehab here this year. We talked a lot. We spoke about different approaches and stuff that he has learned. He was trying to help me.” Veteran players will occasionally take a young player under their wing and express what they went through. It sounds like Myers and Potts bonded fairly well, as the elder player tried to educate the younger on what to expect in the future.
It is no secret that the Padres farm system is currently stacked. We spoke briefly about all the names and how impressive they are. “There are a lot of exciting players everywhere. Every position you have a lot of young guys. It’s definitely exciting.” He recognizes the competition aspect of having all these young players, but the 19-year-old certainly is not afraid of a little competition.
Our conversation steered towards the young third baseman’s defense. “I take a lot of pride in my defense. I always have. I have a set routine that I do every day. I make adjustments every now and then. I try to practice stuff that will actually come back in the game.” We spoke about defensive analytics briefly and if he positions himself a certain way by the coaching staff. He relayed to me that it changes and there are many variables to it.
I brought up the fact he has hit in multiple spots in the lineup. There was some curiosity on my part if he preferred a certain area in the lineup. “I have no control over that. As long as I am given an opportunity in the lineup, I am happy with that.” He really doesn’t care where he is in the lineup as long as his name is in it. You get a sense that he has already learned that there are certain things he cannot control. That is an above average trait to possess for someone of his age.
The game of baseball can be a grind for some players who find it difficult to stay focused or motivated. We spoke about the long season and this is what he told me. “I have no trouble with motivation at all. Everything motivates me (gesturing to the field in front of us). Since I was a little kid, I have had no trouble with motivation at all… I am driven every day.” This teenager loves the game of baseball. You know that he enjoys almost every aspect of it. He is truly wise beyond his years.
I enjoy asking prospects what part of their game needs work. You know that all minor league players have confidence, but the amount of humility is what really makes a great player. In speaking to Hudson, he just gets it. “All aspects of my game (need work). You will never be where you want to be. Even the highest guys (within the system) have something to work on. I am not anywhere that I want to be with everything. I know that I need to work. I am not going to be comfortable with anything.” Could there be a more perfect answer? In hearing it from him face to face, I assure you this wasn’t just “talk” either. Potts is committed to becoming a better player and will never be accused of taking his gift for granted.
We next talked about the positive things he brings to a team and the game of baseball. He relayed this to me on the subject. “I have solid defense and make some plays that can help out the pitchers. Offensively, I like to help out where I can too. The biggest thing for me is mental. How to take it day by day and separate stuff. I am learning the small stuff that will give me an edge.” He is working hard on the mental side of the game. For a 19-year-old this is advanced thinking, but he wants to get better. He wants to understand how to accomplish that.
In speaking more about the mental side of the game. I asked him how exactly he has improved in that regard since his time last year in Indiana. “I think I have learned a lot just from experiences. Whether it’s on the field or off the field. Different stuff comes up and I will notice it. I work a lot with our mental coach Jason Amarosa. We had meetings in spring training. He comes in every now and then and we learn tips from him.” The Padres are indeed coaching these young players beyond the game of baseball. When I was around the Peoria Sports Complex this spring I saw many classes for prospects and major leaguers. This is a great thing. Teaching these men how to be ballplayers is only a fraction of the whole endeavor when they sign that pro contract, especially when they are teenagers.
The last thing we spoke about was the fact the Padres next two affiliates up the ladder are in Texas. I asked the native Texan if he was excited about the possibility of returning home in a sense. “When that day comes. I know my family will be out there watching. I will be happy, but it is still baseball. At the end of the day, the game is the same even though it’s a higher level.” He is right. That is arguably one of the hardest things for young players to realize. It is the same dimensions you have played with since you were a kid. Stripping the game to its bare bones like that help Hudson Potts further his baseball knowledge.