Confident, composed, and wise beyond his years, Cardenas hit .318/.384/.442 with two home runs in 154 Gulf Coast League at-bats last season. He was off to a .303/.361/.439 start with seven home runs this season through 310 South Atlantic League at-bats. Cardenas’ solid all-around skill set earned him our June 13th nod for top second baseman in the minors. He could someday be an above-average big league hitter and a Top 100 prospect.
Adam Foster: After playing shortstop in high school and the Gulf Coast League last year, how have you felt playing second base this season?
Adrian Cardenas: It’s different, definitely different...taking it as it comes, learning. I gotta learn as much as I can...take it all in. But it’s fun. I like it. I feel comfortable there. Whether I go back to short, or second, or left field, or wherever they put me, I’ll work at it and do my best.
Foster: What do you attribute to the massive power surge that you had your senior year in high school (18 home runs)?
Cardenas : Making contact. I think I didn’t miss as many pitches as I did earlier on in my high school career. And just I trained a little bit, put on some weight, got a little stronger...and hitting in front of Chris Marrero.
Foster: Yeah, batting .647 and only striking out three times your senior year, you made a lot of contact. Did you start to feel invincible at times when you stepped up to the plate?
Cardenas : No, no. I felt confident, not invincible. I think the moment I would have thought that, I would have started striking out and not hitting as much as I did. That’s the way baseball works.
Foster: Since hitting 18 home runs your final year in high school, you’ve left the yard just nine times during the regular season as a pro. How much of that has been adjusting to tougher competition versus using wooden bats?
Cardenas : I think it’s just getting used to a wood bat. In the GCL I had two home runs, in Spring Training I had two, instructs two...it’s gotten better. Now I have seven. So I think little by little. But you know, I’m not a home run hitter. I’m a gap hitter. And I think at the end of it all any hitter would kind of say that; balls just fly, balls just go out.
Foster: How difficult was the jump in competition from Monsignor Pace (HS) to the Gulf Coast League? Was it as difficult as you expected it to be?
Cardenas : Yeah. It definitely was. I definitely set high expectations for that league. It was tough...just the game got a lot faster. The grind of playing day in day out, waking up early, going through your whole routine, then playing a 12 o’clock day game with all the humidity. It’s definitely something to get used to. You’re not going to go 3-for-4 every game and not strike out. And you’re not only going to strike out three times in 50 something games. Having to deal with that was also an adjustment.
Foster: What did you do to prepare for your first year in full-season pro ball?
Cardenas : Just work hard, work mentally, relax, train...do what I always do: take it day by day. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into and I was just taking it day by day.
Foster: Is it possible to be completely ready, mentally and physically, for the rigors of adjusting to a full season?
Cardenas : Yeah. If you go out there with an open mind and expect that there are going to be struggles and there are going to be adjustments to make, I think you’re going to be ready for it. I think if you go out there thinking that everything’s going to be great and you’re never going to struggle and you’re never going to play poorly, then you’re probably going to have a rude awakening.
Foster: Have you run across any other ball players who play jazz or classical music?
Cardenas : Not that I can think of right now.
Foster: Do you ever wonder with it would be like if you were playing for the University of Florida instead of the Phillies?
Cardenas : Nope, never really thought about it. I’m with the Phillies now and that’s all I’m thinking about.
Foster: You know the Phillies’ minor league system fairly well, can you think of anyone they have who compares favorably to Chase Utley?Cardenas : (Laughs.) No, no, no. There’s no Chase Utley. Chase Utley is Chase Utley...nobody like him.
Adam Foster can be reached at email@example.com.