St. Mary’s Mike Sansoe, 23, is trying his best to break this theory.
Last year in Eugene Sansoe tried to shed this label and put together a solid season, hitting .290/.373/.342, mainly playing left field and batting leadoff for the Emeralds.
In his last year at St. Mary’s Sansoe's hit a team-leading .352, scored 35 runs, had 11 doubles, three triples, 20 RBI, 11 walks and six steals, earning him a second team All-West selection as a center fielder. The 6-foot, 190 pound right-handed hitting Sansoe was one of the fastest on the team and his three triples led the West Coast Conference in 2005.
This year in Fort Wayne he’s found it a little tougher hitting .241/.344/309, hitting .161 against right-handed pitching and .244 as a lead-off hitter. His best statistic is that he is hitting .348 against lefties and is tied for the lead on the team with 13 stolen bases [with Will Venable] in 18 attempts, but is going to have to pick it up a lot more not only to advance, but to stay in the line-up in Fort Wayne.
He has good range for a centerfielder and his fate will largely rest on how much he can convince the Padres that he can play center field and bat lead-off.
What has been the biggest adjustment for you from Eugene to the Midwest League?
Mike Sansoe: Some of the pitchers have a little bit better stuff, fastball and off-speed stuff. I’ve tried really hard to cut down on my strikeouts. The kind of hitter that I am, my biggest job is to get on base and score runs. I just struck out too much last year.
You had a good year last year with Eugene.
Mike Sansoe: I did pretty well, but there were just some things that I could improve on my game. I’ve worked with Maxy [Venable the Wizards hitting coach] on improving my two strike approach, kind of widening out a bit and putting the ball in play. It hasn’t shown the past couple days, but before that I thought my two-strike approach was my biggest improvement.
You are playing a lot more center field this year, do you see yourself as fitting more into the mode of a leadoff hitter/center fielder guy?
Mike Sansoe: Oh yeah, definitely. I don’t hit for nearly enough power to be a corner guy. You kind of look at where you have a chance to fit in and hope to get a chance. Last year I was playing the corners in Eugene, but this year its been me and [Josh] Alley playing centerfield.
In college did you play more in centerfield?
Mike Sansoe: Yes, except for my freshman year, we had a senior out there who went on to get drafted by the Blue Jays. My last three years I played centerfield at St. Marys.
When we talk to people like Kennard Jones and Drew Macias, who are also centerfielders, they always say that its more of an adjustment for them to move to the corners because they are so used to playing there. Are you like that?
Mike Sansoe: Yeah, there is so much more room to run and the reads off of the bat are so much easier. If you’re in the corner there is only so much room to run. In centerfield you can just see the ball so well, its just a pleasure to play out there.
And if you can get to any ball its yours.
Mike Sansoe: Exactly. You can run down balls in the gap, while in the corners you are worried about a ball in the gap and no one getting there.
You’ve stolen 11 bases in 14 attempts, are you trying to run more?
Mike Sansoe: Randy has me and a couple of other guys have the green light whenever we get on. We’re getting educated about the right time for stealing, not just running to steal bases, but for a purpose to be in position to score.
When you get on first base what are you looking for?
Mike Sansoe: If I have seen the guy before, and I keep a book on the guys that I have seen before, I’ll know if I can run off a guy. If I haven’t seen a guy, its all by time. I know how fast I can get down to second base and then its just a case of matching up, if it works, it works.
How about their moves?
Mike Sansoe: The lefties have a little more with their head and different body movements. Righties are a little easier, but most have fair to average moves.
What is the biggest thing you need to work on to advance?
Mike Sansoe: Hitting. You have to hit if you want to play. I would love to get my batting average and on-base average up while cutting down on my strikeouts.
How was your off-season different from in college?
Mike Sansoe: In college after your freshman year you kind of get a little bit of a set schedule, you know when to start working out. This last off-season was my first and I think I started to early. Because by the time spring training rolled around I was really ready to go, I think I did a little too much.
It’s better than not being ready. Next year I’ll start a little later, but I’m always concerned about my swing not being a high round guy with big money. I’m not going to get as many chances as someone the organization has a lot invested in. I need to come out and perform.