Talk about going from the Arizona Rookie League to the Midwest League – and this was something you were able to do late last year as well.
Kevin Hansen: Being a college guy and going to rookie ball, I felt I was the one with more experience because there are a lot of young guys who are from high school and the Dominican.
I didn't feel overmatched. I felt comfortable where I was. I tried to the best I could. I ended up having a good season, and they thought I was ready to come up here and I thought that also.
What kind of confidence boost is it for you to come out to Fort Wayne and be stuck in the starting lineup as an undrafted guy?
Kevin Hansen: It definitely feels good. It gets a little frustrating when there are times when you don't play everyday and are so used to it. I understood my role on this team at the beginning of the season and the mindset is to the best I can whenever I got my opportunity.
We had some injuries this year, unfortunately, but it has given me an opportunity to be in the lineup. I am trying to do my best to stay there.
As an undrafted guy, do you feel like there is added pressure on you to perform?
Kevin Hansen: I try to not think about it too much. The way I look at it – if they didn't think I was ready to be here than I wouldn't.
It definitely helps getting the chance to be in the lineup everyday. It makes you feel a little more comfortable up at the plate, getting into a rhythm.
One thing that hitting coach Bob Skube said was that you were always in the middle of a win. ‘You may not see it in the boxscore but he is always in the middle of a win.' What does that mean?
Kevin Hansen: I guess it is being in the right place at the right time.
We had a game towards the end of the first half where we played 13 innings the night before with a walk off win and to get the opportunity in the 10th inning with a guy on second and figure out a way to muscle one to the outfield to win the game.
My whole life it has seemed like I am always around where the ball is. It seems to find me. I am completely fine with that. I love the opportunity to play a big part of the game.
Talk about the challenges of playing all over the infield – moving from second base to third base and shortstop.
Kevin Hansen: Basically, the way I look at it is, if you are playing second base or shortstop, you have a little bit more time to react, room to move. Over at third, it is almost like playing goalie.
I played all those positions in college so it is nothing new to me. I am used to moving around and feel that will be my role in professional baseball. I go with the flow. I am happy to be out here and will do my best at whatever position – short, second, third and even left field, which I played a couple of times last year during extended spring. I am ready to go.
Is there something specific you need to work on defensively?
Kevin Hansen: I would say arm strength is a big thing, especially since I have been playing second base a lot. I make sure that I am still doing my long toss before the game so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed since I am used to making the short throws at second base and have to make the longer ones when I move over. Arm strength would be the biggest thing for me.
Also, when I am playing shortstop or third, my footwork – getting around balls and coming through them so I have a little more momentum and it takes the strain off my arm and makes it a little bit easier to throw.
Is pitch selection going to be the biggest thing for you moving forward?
Kevin Hansen: Yes, I think so. I started out struggling with that a little bit this year. I got sent down to Arizona for a couple of days and came back. After that, working with Torni (hitting coach Tom Tornicasa), I started seeing the ball a little bit better, had my hands in a better position, and started walking a little bit more.
That is definitely one of the biggest parts of my game that I need to work on.
Your managers Jose Flores and Doug Dascenzo have said you are a student of the game. What does it mean to be a student of the game?
Kevin Hansen: Learning from every situation, even when you are not in the game. Paying attention to each situation – how many outs, where the runners are, what we are trying to accomplish.
I have never been the kind of guy who is hanging out by the far end of the dugout. I am usually right around where the coaches are. I like to listen to what they have to say and pick up little things from them. Keep learning everyday.
Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards
Fort Wayne, IN: Utility players are more valuable than most people realize. The one that come in at a moment's notice and fill any role admirably is coveted at the major league level. San Diego Padres prospect Kevin Hansen has earned the right and continues to get opportunities because of the passion in his play.