Cardinals Prospect Interview: Nick Greenwood

Left-hander Nick Greenwood joined the Cardinals organization via trade on Saturday. Prior to the announcement, we talked with him about his pitching approach.

Along with starting pitcher Jake Westbrook from Cleveland, the St. Louis Cardinals acquired left-hander Nick Greenwood from San Diego in the Saturday trade that cost them outfielder Ryan Ludwick.

The 22-year-old stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 180 pounds. Greenwood was born in Southington, CT and after starring at Rhode Island University, was selected by the Padres in the 14th round of the 2009 draft.

Greenwood has a career 8-5 record with a 3.12 ERA logged between the Northwest League last season and the Midwest League at the end of last year and this. He moves from Fort Wayne to MWL competitor Quad Cities.

Shortly before the trade, Greenwood sat down for this exclusive interview with Denis Savage, the editor and publisher of our companion site covering the Padres, In it, the pitcher discusses his offerings and approach in depth.

Once you have completed this interview, please make sure you click on Greenwood's highlighted name above to be taken to his player profile page. There, you can access Denis' vast trove of information about Greenwood, including numerous video clips. Talk to me about your season so far and what you are feeling. How do feel you have done?

Nick Greenwood: Right now, obviously it is not the season I am hoping to have. But I am working on a couple of new things, it is a different league, and you definitely see the change in the hitters from Eugene last year. They are more proven. I have had a good start, a bad start. It is more about putting it together and having a couple of consistently good starts. Then we will go from there.

You said you were working on a couple of new things out in the pen during your early work today. What are you working on out there?

The other day my stuff was a little flat. I am not really an overpowering pitcher, so when I get by, it is with my movement. I was fine-tuning my movement, getting my change-up and my sinker down. Tomorrow I will have another pen day, so I will work on getting my curveball over. A little bit more movement here and there is key.

How do you accomplish that movement? Are you changing grips or dropping some arm angle? What do you change to make that happen?

You can feel it. You know when you see a pitch and feel, "Wow, that was good." The only way to get it is to keep working on it. Once you get that arm angle, location and grip, you will get the movement and the success that comes with it.

Is the hope is that it gets to be a "pitch to pitch" thing as opposed to a "start to start" thing? Where are you in feeling that? You said you can feel some of it, but is it hard to go, "I need to do this and this" to get it back, rather than having to wait another game.

Absolutely. Pitching is crazy. You go out there and one pitch, you think, "Wow, he wasn't even close to that" and the next pitch you throw it right down the middle. You think you threw it the same, that you had the same arm slide and same location, and they hit it. Obviously it is a pitch by pitch thing. Maybe some days you get three or four right and other days you just have it and all your pitches are good and that is usually when you have successful starts.

The best big league pitchers know how to pitch when their stuff just isn't there. For example, one night in the majors, Mat Latos has a headache and still only allows one run. How do you get to that point? Is that almost a mental barrier that you have to break through?

Absolutely. Mat Latos is an awesome pitcher and I was able to see him in spring training. This game is a lot mental and if you don't feel good and if something off the fields happens that you bring on the field, you may not be successful. If you are on the mound thinking about other things, you may leave your stuff up and it will get hit.

You need to have the right approach and go out there and do the best you can. Sometimes you have your good stuff and you still get hit, but that is baseball. You see a different thing every day in the game, and that is how it is.

The success that you have had, is it tied more to rhythm? You get into a rhythm on the mound, whether it is being in the delivery, or thinking, "I take three seconds between pitches and I am ready to go."

Absolutely. Getting into a rhythm as a pitcher is a great feeling. But also, it also helps your fielders because it is tough playing behind a guy that gets the ball and walks around the mound, gets on the mound, gets the sign, and it is 10 seconds between every pitch.

I prefer to be a quick worker and they say that if you are a quick worker, your players are ready behind you, and that is when they make the good plays. I want to get them back in the dugout as fast as I want to get back in the dugout. Getting a good rhythm is key.

How do you stay away from the feeling of being rushed – of going too fast in your delivery speed, everything is going more quickly and knowing that you need to scale back?

A lot of times when you are rushed, you start feeling your mechanics. You fly open, you start leaving stuff out or you are not even close to the strike down. Usually when you rush, your body movement is not where you want it to be. That is when you have to slow down, or when the game is speeding up and you give up three or four hits in a row instead of just getting that next out. You need to step back a little, think about what you want to do, and then make your pitch.

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