Padres Prospect Interview: Nic Crosta

Padres Prospect Interview: Nic Crosta

Nic Crosta arrived in Peoria last week to participate in the Padres' early hitters' camp. A year ago at this time, it would have made sense that he'd be among a group of top hitting prospects for a major league franchise, but his road took several detours to get there. We continue our conversation with the slugging outfielder who signed as a free agent during the offseason, after twice turning down draft offers from Grady Fuson's previous clubs.

Last year – almost to the date – you were number seven on Baseball America's Super 50 list. Give us a feel for how you're feeling having taken a very different path than you were probably hoping for at that time.

Nic Crosta:Well, I think Grady had seen me play enough – he had drafted me back in my junior year when I had a pretty good year at Santa Clara. I fell in the draft due to signability issues, just as I did out of high school, so I went back for my senior year. Grady knows what I can do. I'd like to put my talents up against anybody out there in terms of physical ability. The part I haven't done is have the at-bats that other guys have had, so I haven't seen as many pitches and I'm definitely behind the eight ball as far as that's concerned.

What happened on the field during your senior year? After a strong junior year, your numbers really fell off.

I was definitely pressing a little bit. Early in the season, I started overswinging here and there and thinking about ‘well, I better have a big year.' I think I was motivated for the wrong reasons. I was a little bit bitter – I was hoping to go a little higher in the draft. I just really think I was playing for the wrong reasons and put too much pressure on myself. I'm just really happy Grady gave me this opportunity to play and to make it. I'm just taking advantage of that in a pressure-free situation for me right now. I couldn't be any happier with how it is.

You've talked about playing for the wrong reasons before. Now that you've got another chance, how are you approaching the opportunity?

I think I've always known I belong and had confidence in what I can do on a baseball field. I went all over the country doing the workouts in high school and know where I could have gone. Now, I'm just glad I have the opportunity to do it on the highest level. I was hoping some team would take a chance on me and figured one would. I couldn't be happier that it's the Padres.

When you left the Santa Clara team last year, was that an injury or for personal reasons?

I just had some things I had to take care of – probably a little bit overdue. You know, there's definitely more important things in life than baseball – you know, your health and family. I just wanted to take a little time off for myself, so that's what I did and squared up some stuff. I couldn't be happier with where I am today.

Did you finish your degree at Santa Clara?

No, I'm not done. When I transferred from Texas, I lost almost a full year, which set me back. And then, obviously I left and lost that quarter from my senior year. But I went back this fall and took 19 or 20 units and ended up with a 3.7 and had a good quarter. I have two more quarters left to graduate and plan to go back next fall if I don't go to instructs. I definitely plan to graduate. I turned down a bunch of money to go to college, and I'm not going to half-way anything.

What has it been like to switch to a wood bat and have to hit into death valley in your workouts at PetCo?

I haven't ever had a problem with that thankfully. Definitely the sweet spot's a lot smaller and you're not going to mis-hit balls, but as far as I'm concerned, if I hit a ball good with aluminum it's going to go and if I hit a ball good with wood it's going to go. I wasn't big into having an aluminum-bat swing. I've swung wood in the offseason since I was fifteen or so, so it's not a huge jump for me and the weight's not a problem for me.

Did you ever play in one of the wood-bat summer leagues?

I played in Santa Barbara for a summer and then broke my hand my second summer out there. But I played a full season after my freshman year of college.

Aside from the hand, have you ever had any injuries on the field?

That's it. I'm in really good shape right now and have never had any major surgeries or anything.

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