Pradere has been outstanding leadoff man for Carson
The Northern Division I season is at the halfway mark, and Carson High senior Connor Pradere has put up some impressive offensive numbers.
Entering today’s game against Spanish Springs (4:10 p.m. at Greater Nevada Field), Pradere is hitting .438, has 29 stolen bases in 30 attempts, has scored 29 runs and is hitting .417 with runners in scoring position.
Simply put, he’s the most dangerous lead-off hitter in the league, a terror on the basepaths and a true table-setter.
“I’m definitely having a good year,” Pradere said, surveying Ron McNutt Field from the press box. “At the plate, I’m trying to keep my head clear; keep it simple. I don’t think about technique, I just focus on the ball.
“Last year I was always trying to make adjustments every time I went to the plate. Adjustments have to be made during batting practice.”
And, obviously they have been made. Hitting is mostly mental, and different players use different approaches. Pradere has found a formula that works for him, and his numbers back that up. A year ago, he hit. 301 in 34 games with 11 stolen bases and 25 runs scored.
“Connor is doing his job,” Carson coach Bryan Manoukian said. “Our (other) hitters need to do a better job of driving him in. So far he is having a really good year.”
Of Pradere’s 21 hits, 19 are singles. In his role as a lead-off hitter, he’s just trying to put the ball in play, and let his speed do the rest. With his speed, a walk or single has turned into a triple. He has stolen second and third multiple times during the same at-bat. And, he has struck out just six times in 65 plate appearances, another key reason why he’s such a good lead-off hitter. He’s not an easy out by any means.
“I’m not trying to hit for power at all,” Pradere said. “That first at-bat of the game is the most important. I’m not worried about my batting average, I just want to get on base somehow every time.”
And, when he reaches base, he has turned the basepaths into his own personal playground. He has a 97 percent success rate stealing bases, a stat that would make Rickey Henderson or Lou Brock jealous. He has driven opposing catchers and pitchers nuts.
“I try to steal one base (on average) a game,” Pradere said. “After that, it’s extra. I talked to my brother (Brock), and that’s what he did. You steal a lot of bags, and you’re going to get noticed. I’m going to try to steal as many as I can. I have the green light all the time unless it is a situation like Tuesday (against Manogue) when we’re down 5-1 in the seventh and my run wouldn’t mean anything.”
Manoukian said Pradere has a “knack” for stealing bases; reading the pitchers and knowing how big of a lead to take and when to go.
“It’s something you can’t teach,” the CHS coach said. “He has a good feel for it. He understands the situation. I have a lot of confidence in him.”
What’s funny is opposing pitchers weren’t throwing over hardly at all, or even stepping off early in the season. It made Pradere’s job that much easier.
“I was kind of surprised,” Pradere said. “Once you steal one or two bases, they pick a lot more. Reno threw over a few times.”
Padere’s defensive role on the team has changed a tad in recent weeks. He started the season at shortstop, but is seeing more and more action in right field with Jared Barnard taking over at shortstop.
That trend will continue the rest of the season. Pradere will play short when Barnard pitches and play right the rest of the time. It’s a change that started at the Bishop Gorman tournament.
“He put me out there one day in Las Vegas,” Pradere said. “I like to play outfield, it’s fun. Jared is a very good shortstop. I figure I’ll play outfield in college, so he is giving me some experience in high school.”
Manoukian said the change is more about offense than defense. The team has been struggling at the plate, and the CHS coach likes the way Barnard has been swinging the bat.
Pradere made his first outfield start in league Tuesday at Bishop Manogue. He made a nice sliding catch, and he also threw out C.J. Hires at home in the first inning.
Was he surprised Manogue tested his arm?
“I was hoping he was going to try,” Pradere said. “I heard (Manogue coach Charles) Oppio sending him. I’m saying ‘please send him’.”
The ball beat Hires with room to spare, and the play helped Carson escape a potential big inning.
“He should play outfield in college,” Manoukian said. “I think that’s where he’s better suited.”
He would be following in his older brother, Brock’s footsteps.
Brock Pradere played infield the bulk of his career at CHS, and then switched to the outfield at Ohlone College in Fremont. He played well enough to earn a partial scholarship to Western Oregon.
Connor Pradere has had contact with both Ohlone and Solano College. While his older brother redshirted at Ohlone, Connor wants to play right away if given the opportunity.