Top Padres prospect Jedd Gyorko
(pronounced "JERR-ko") has always had an impressive bat -- in three Minor League seasons, he's hit .319/.385/.529 with 62 homers and 255 RBIs -- but not always a position to call home. He was largely a shortstop in college at West Virginia, apart from one season spent at second base. The Padres selected him as a third baseman in the second round of the 2010 Draft, but with Chase Headley's emergence at the hot corner in San Diego, the club has shifted Gyorko back to second, where he has a chance to win the starting job in Spring Training.
Gyorko played 47 games at second (along with 73 at third) for Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson in 2012 and has had the offseason to prepare for his audition on the right side of the infield. MiLB.com spoke to him at Spring Training in Peoria, Ariz.
MiLB.com: How did you spend your offseason and how are things going at camp?
Jedd Gyorko: Everything's been going well -- I'm looking forward to our first game on Friday. I spent the offseason at home [in West Virginia] working out, taking ground balls and working on hitting. I'm hoping to play a little longer season this year and wanted to come in completely ready.
MiLB.com: You haven't played a ton of second base in recent seasons. How is the adjustment coming along?
Gyorko: I'm definitely getting more comfortable all the time, even in the last week since camp started. It was great to have a full offseason to prepare and I've been working with some of the best coaches on how to approach it. I've been an infielder my entire life, so it's really just getting used to the ball coming off the bat differently and the double play turns at second base.
MiLB.com: At 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, you're not a huge guy, but you've put up some big power numbers the last two seasons, particularly at Lake Elsinore and Tucson. Do you consider yourself a power hitter?
Gyorko: I think that remains to be seen, really. I've had some good numbers the last few years, but you never know how things will shake out. I guess I consider myself a line drive hitter, but maybe with a little extra.
MiLB.com: Based on where you grew up [Morgantown, W.Va.], by rights you should have been a Pirates fan, although you aren't old enough to remember their last winning season. Who were your favorite teams and players when you were growing up?
Gyorko: Yeah, I was a Pirates fan. It's been tough there for a while, but things seem to be getting better. I always liked Jason Kendall -- you don't see too many catchers batting leadoff and doing some of the things he was able to do. He was a guy who played the game hard and was willing to grind it out, which I liked a lot.
MiLB.com: I understand you were a pretty good basketball player in high school. Did you play point or were you more of a shooting guard? Did you ever consider trying to play in college?
Gyorko: I could bring the ball up sometimes, but usually I was happy to hang out around the three-point line and wait for a shot. Basketball was fun and a good way to stay in shape during the winter, but baseball has always come first, so I never really thought about playing hoops in college.
MiLB.com: When you were a Mountaineer, the school played in the Big East. What did you think about its recent move to the Big 12?
Gyorko: I think the move is great for the school. It will be a little tougher with the travel and the competition, but for the baseball team it's a great way to get more exposure.
MiLB.com: This is your second time attending the Major League camp -- how is it different this year compared to last year?
Gyorko: Last year, I came in and didn't know anyone, so it was more about meeting people and learning the drill and trying to fit in. This year, I know everyone and how things go, so it's been easier to just get to work.
MiLB.com: I heard Trevor Hoffman was throwing batting practice the other day. Did you get a chance to hit off him?
Gyorko: No! I heard about it later, but I had no idea at the time. I must have been over at one of the other fields.
MiLB.com: You've now played in five different Minor Leagues and covered a lot of ground over three seasons. What's been your favorite town to visit?
Gyorko: Obviously, everyone enjoys Las Vegas; it's always a fun trip. I really enjoyed playing at Fort Wayne -- they've got a great park and great fans and it was a lot of fun playing there. At Lake Elsinore, too, with the fans and the weather. I've been really happy with the opportunities I've gotten in the Minors.
MiLB.com: A few more quick-fire questions. What uniform number do you want to wear in the Majors?
Gyorko: I've been wearing 5 since I was in school, but Alexi [Amarista] has that with the Padres, so I'd probably go with 9 as an alternate.
MiLB.com: Who's the toughest pitcher you've faced in the Minors and why?
Gyorko: That's a hard one -- there are a lot of good guys. Maybe Danny Hultzen from the Mariners -- he's a tough lefty with a three-quarters drop-down motion and a great changeup.
MiLB.com: Do you have a favorite pregame meal?
Gyorko: To be honest, I pretty much eat whatever the clubbies have put out. I'm not superstitious about stuff like that and I think I'd get sick of the same thing all the time anyway.
MiLB.com: Finally, what do you think you'd be doing if you weren't playing baseball?
Gyorko: You know, I've loved baseball and dreamed about playing baseball for so long that it's hard to say. I'd have finished up my degree in business management and tried to get a solid job, I guess.