Lachlan Dale was the only member of the Eugene Emeralds to make the postseason All-Star team in the…
Padres Prospect Interview: Lachlan Dale
After all, baseball isn't the same until you have played it in the United States. The level of play is enhanced as pitchers consistently throw harder and throw with precision.
"That was my first experience coming in and seeing fastballs that are 90 miles per hour instead of coming in and seeing them at 80," Dale said. "It is a big difference and adjusting was pretty tough."
Twenty six games into the season, Dale was hitting under .200. It wasn't until that next game that he left sea level behind. Thirty seven games in his batting average had climbed but was still just .213.
It was then that it began to click for Dale. While he had ten homers in his first 31 games, Dale managed just five thereafter. Power numbers may have been down, but his average began to steadily climb. It was more important for him to simply put good wood on the ball.
That resulted in two hitting streaks. One lasted seven games and another lasted eight games, all in the span of 18 games. He even had a two homer, six RBI night mingled in, proving the power was still there but the approach had changed.
Dale managed to end the season hitting .247, far better than what his mid-season average had determined.
This 20 year old originally from far away had a lot to overcome. Out of his element, Dale had to forge a relationship and comfort level with Eugene.
"It wasn't too bad," Dale said. "I thought it would have been worse. Australia and America are very similar it is just being away from home for six months. It just starts to wear to where you are missing your family and friends. I didn't think it was too bad. Baseball wise it is a little different."
The difference here is games every day of the week. Even in the offseason, there is always a place to play. Not back in Australia.
"We have a season back home where it is more of a B League thing. We play once on a Sunday afternoon and that is about it. All of the professional guys that play over here in the minor leagues they play in the season back home. I think six or seven back in Perth play in the same league. You are always going to see good pitching every now and again but generally it is an 80 mile per hour fastball."
That makes the adjustments Dale speaks of all the harder. He does not face the pitching of the minors each offseason and when he arrives at the Padres' training complex, the learning must begin anew.
It also makes his accomplishments this year more encouraging. He outpaced all of his previous totals by a wide margin and, defense aside, has brought a more certain approach to the plate.
But he is behind his American counterparts.
That may give him more flexibility to fail in the minors, but it isn't about failing. It is about improving each leg of the journey.
He knows he is behind the proverbial eight-ball. What he does not want to do is drop out of the picture.
"It makes it a lot easier for them because they still see good pitching and we come back and we see average stuff all the time. Then we just go home and practice, go to the gym and hit most days of the week. That is pretty much all we can do."
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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