Padres Prospect Interview: Rob Musgrave

Finding a consistent line to home plate was a primary focus for San Diego Padres prospect Rob Musgrave. That has enabled him to fine tune his control – the results have been evident.

Last year, it was maybe a different situation for you, a little unique. You had inherited runners for perhaps the first time in your career and yet none of them scored. You had seven. None scored. That's pretty good.

Rob Musgrave: Yeah. I didn't even know that. I was a reliever in Eugene for a whole season, so I'm sure I had some inherited runners there, too.

Is it a different approach?

Rob Musgrave: No. You're still trying to guys at the plate out, still trying to make your best pitch downhill to the plate. Nothing really changes as far as that goes. I think the minute things change, when you change your approach, stuff starts to happen that you're not ready for.

You were looking to find a consistent line to home plate during the season last year. How do you feel today?

Rob Musgrave: I feel a lot better. It's something I worked on all of instructs and continued to work when I got home. I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with that this year than I did in the past. I'm not falling off to the side. I'm not doing a lot of the things I was doing last year. It's really helped out, being able to spot pitches down in the zone and get everything going to the plate.

You added the cutter. What has that done for you? It seems like at the point you added the cutter, everything started to click for you.

Rob Musgrave: It was just something that I could throw. Once I started to get a feel for it, it was just another pitch I could throw on any count and be able to have success with. Being able to throw that pitch to the back knee of a right-handed hitter helped out a lot. I struggled quite a bit throwing inside. My RC wasn't quite where I wanted it to be. It was a little harder to get inside on some guys. So, being able to throw that pitch on the back knee really helped out. It became an outpitch for me at the end of last year.

What do you credit for the mid-season turnaround? Do you look at something specific and say that was it?

Rob Musgrave: I don't really know what happened. I just started going out and throwing the ball the way I knew I could throw the whole time. It's just that things started clicking for me. There wasn't any one thing that really changed for me. I was just able to go out and stick to my plan and throw pitches where I wanted to. I gained a little arm speed mid-season. I might have had a dead arm the first part of the year. That helped out a little bit. Most of it was just hitting the spots and throwing three or four pitches for a strike.

Talk about the curveball progression and how that's going.

Rob Musgrave: It's been inconsistent. It's been inconsistent for a long time. I'm starting to build on it a lot more. I've thrown some good ones here. It's a lot more consistent than it used to be. I'm able to get good arm speed on it. I used to always pull it, and a lot of it was keeping it on a direct line to the plate. It really helped out with that. That's really been the biggest change. Just having a consistent release point has been something I've struggled with in the past and made improvements on this spring.

You've held the leadoff hitter of an inning to a 278 on-base percentage. That's a great number, especially when you see some of these other numbers coming up. That might be even higher. Talk about getting that first out and how vital that is.

Rob Musgrave: It's definitely a big out. If you let the first guy get on, especially if he's a runner, then he's going to get on second before you know it, second or third. Just being able to make good pitches early in the count, early in the inning, and being able to get guys to put balls in play that they wouldn't necessarily want to swing at is big and being able to get the guy out. One out is a lot harder to start a rally than with no outs. Just focusing and being able to get the guy to put the ball in play early and keep going is huge.

Do you feel like there were times you were going for the strike-out too often and then trying to be, perhaps, too fine?

Rob Musgrave: Yeah, a lot of times when you get two strikes, you want to put the guy away instead of the pitch-to-contact mentality. I definitely like strike-outs, so being able to just pitch to contact is definitely something I've been working on. Just getting guys to put balls in play and get the ball on the ground is a big thing I've been working on. Not giving up so many fly balls, because fly balls tend to leave the park every now and again. Yeah, just working on pitching to contact and not trying to go for the strike out is something I've been working on.

You mentioned adding velocity during the season and arm speed. How does that happen? Was this back to college speed or even higher?

Rob Musgrave: You never know. I was probably back to where I was in college. My junior summer I was throwing a little harder than I was all year last year. I was back to where I was in college. It felt good. A lot of it was having such a big load all throughout college. Especially my junior and senior years, throwing over 110 innings both years and then going to summer ball on top of that. I think that kind of took a toll on my arm and coming into spring training was pretty tough to build up the arm speed again. I don't know. I think I just came out of a dead arm. I was hurt for a couple week with an ab strain, so that helped me to take some time off. Let my arm build back up and do a lot of shoulder work. Go from there.

Talk about the auxiliary fall league. I guess that's what it's called. I don't even know. What was that experience like?

Rob Musgrave: It was fun. I really liked it. It was kind of a lot more laid back than instructs were. We worked out with the instructs guys and then we went out pitching one or two days a week. It was nice to be able to face guys with a little more advanced bats and guys that have played at more advanced levels. It was a really good experience. I really enjoyed it. I'm not sure what they're going to do about it this year. I think that was a test run or whatever. I enjoyed it a lot. It was a lot of fun.

We all know you have a lot of great teammates and this does not take away from anyone you don't mention. If you could have one pitch from anyone of your teammates to put into your own arsenal, what would it be, from who, and why?

Rob Musgrave: Probably Simon Castro's fastball. It's got so much movement, so much life on it. He's able to spot it up. It's a great pitch. Just to watch him throw has been impressive to see the improvements he's made over the past year and a half that I've known him. It's really a tribute to his work ethic. Everyone talks about his slider. He's got a great slider, but if you watch him throw his slider, it's impressive.

Who is the one hitter that you are glad you have as a teammate and why?

Rob Musgrave: I don't know. I haven't faced a lot of our hitters. I like the way Jaff Decker works. He works really hard. I'm glad he's on our team just to be able to show everyone else this is how you get stuff done. That's really big. I'm kind of in a unique situation, because I've only had a few guys on my team. I'm sure there's a lot of guys I'm overlooking just because I haven't had the chance to play with them. Being able to play with JD in Eugene and Ft. Wayne, I really liked the way he goes about his business and works hard every day. That's impressive.

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