Kilby Happy To Be Home In Stockton

Most players are excited about playing in the California League, but the opportunity is especially sweet for Stockton Ports left-hander Brad Kilby. Kilby grew up less than 30 minutes from Stockton, making his time with the Ports a homecoming of sorts. We spoke with the lefty reliever about his expectations for the season.

Brad Kilby might not be used to the inconsistent weather of the Midwest, but he pitched like a man used to throwing in 30 degree cold and 90 degree plus 100 percent humidity. The California native was outstanding last season for Low-A Kane County. In 49 appearances, Kilby went 5-1 with nine saves in nine chances. He had a 1.63 ERA and allowed only 38 hits in 60.2 innings pitched. His K:BB ratio was an impressive 73:23.

Kilby's strong 2006 season followed his 2005 professional debut with short-season Vancouver, when Kilby went 2-0 with 14 saves in 23 appearances. Based on those two seasons, there was some thought that Kilby would skip High-A altogether and head straight to Double-A Midland. That didn't happen, and while Kilby wouldn't complain if he were promoted another level, he is more than happy to be starting the season in Stockton.

"I'm from about 25 minutes north of here and I have a bunch of family in California [in addition to his immediate family]," Kilby said.

"Going to San Jose, my grandparents live there. Down south, my aunt and uncle live there. In Modesto, my other aunt and uncle live there."

Kilby also is looking forward to the temperate California climate and the lack of rain or humidity.

"I'm looking forward to the great weather, as well as having all of the comforts of home."

Kilby indicated that he got a bit of a slow start this spring. Last spring, Kilby felt that he came to camp in less than ideal shape, so he worked hard this off-season to arrive at spring training in top condition. He felt he came into camp in good shape, but he admits that he is still searching for the exact right off-season throwing program.

"I felt I was a lot better prepared physically, weight-wise [at the start of camp this year]. I don't think I was ready throwing-wise. I feel ready now, but I didn't go into camp throwing as hard as I should have been. I think I took a little too much time off from throwing," Kilby said.

That slow spring start hasn't slowed down Kilby's strikeout pace at all. Kilby has made two appearances thus far for the Ports and he has whiffed seven batters in only four innings.

In his first appearance, Kilby was hung with a tough-luck blown save when he was victimized by four Stockton errors that led to two unearned runs. However, Kilby recovered to throw two scoreless innings in his next outing, striking out four and walking one. Although he was used as the closer in his first appearance, Kilby was the set-up man in his second appearance. He expects that he will be used in both roles this season.

"I think we are closer-by-committee right now. There are three guys - me, Jason Ray and Rob Semerano - who are probably going to take turns in that role," Kilby said.

Kilby is unique as a closer in that he is a left-handed pitcher. Teams often try to stack their right-handed hitters against Kilby in the ninth when they can, but he feels comfortable facing hitters on both sides of the plate.

"I pretty much stick with my same approach to hitters on both sides of the plate. I start with my fastball, try to get ahead in the count and maybe let my defense work," Kilby said.

"I am going to stick with my same three pitches [no matter who I face], fastball, change-up, slider."

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