Padres Prospect Interview: Matt Jackson

Matt Jackson has seen himself in a variety of roles since joining the San Diego Padres organization. His work has been invaluable as a long reliever and spot starter. His focus has been on pitch sequencing and knowing the opposition.

Talk to me about that little bit different role this last year. You were in the pen, in the rotation, back in the pen. Tell me a little bit about.

Matt Jackson: Well, I started for a little bit. Then, I had some confidence issues going into a little bit of a dead arm. I kind of let it mentally get to me, so they put me back in the pen to get my confidence. As of right now, we're not really sure. They've got me as a starting reliever. I'm just trying to earn a job right now, just like about everyone else right now in spring training.

It seems like there was a little bit of a success in the windup and struggles in the stretch. Did you feel that?

Matt Jackson: Not really. Like I said, I went through some dead arm. I started off really strong when I got up there. I hit a real high peak and then a real low peak. I'm just learning the game still and trying to keep at it.

What was the challenge of the inherited runners, perhaps the first time in who knows how long, if ever?

Matt Jackson: Coming to the pen, I have a different mentally, a little more aggressive. As a starter, you kind of pace yourself. It's just a little more having to pitch in the clutch. It's no big deal to me. I can do both.

You shelved the slider for the curveball, to focus on it?

Matt Jackson: Well, when I first got up there, they liked the slider. I had trouble throwing the curve ball with the new Minor League balls. The seams are lower. Then, we kind of banked it, and went back to the curveball. Then, back to the slider. Cooch (pitching coordinator Mike Couchee) saw one he liked; then Bronze (Bronswell Patrick) saw one he liked, so we messed around with them. A couple times, I threw both of them. I came to instructionals after the season and threw the curveball more than I threw the slider. They're both good. We're throwing all of them right now.

It seems like four pitches are a lot for a starter these days, just because it seems like that's so many to focus on. Are we dropping one or is the intent to keep all four?

Matt Jackson: I intend to keep all four of them. We're mainly focusing on the curveball right now, but I still have the slider, too.

You have a pretty quick tempo to the plate. How does that work to your advantage?

Matt Jackson: I always like to have a good tempo. Pitchers should always try to have a good tempo to keep their guys behind them in the game, not try to let the tempo get slow. It keeps everybody upbeat and it helps the guys behind you, everyone around you.

Does that ever get to the point that you feel yourself speeding up too much?

Matt Jackson: Yes. I tell the catcher sometimes if he feels I'm getting too fast, to tell me to step off. I try to keep my mind on one thing. I see finger, location and I go. I always tell the catcher to help me out if I'm moving too fast.

Pitch sequencing, is that going to be a key component of your future success?

Matt Jackson: Yes. I think it is for every pitcher. I'm still learning hitters, learning where they are in the box, where their hands are, that kind of stuff. You have to learn to pick up on that. I think everybody is having to do that when they get in pro-ball.

Is there certain tells when you see somebody in the box doing something specific?

Matt Jackson: Yeah, you have guys with close stance that you can beat them inside, guys with open stance, you can get away. Just some of the obvious stuff like that are things you tend to look for. Some guys that might not be the case. They're things you look for. You want to look for everything.

What are your goals for next year?

Matt Jackson: I'm just trying taking it step to control the things I can right now. I'm just doing what I can. They have a plan for me and what they want. I'm going to do what I can and control things I can control.

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?

Matt Jackson: I'd like to have Jon Berger's changeup. He has a good changeup. He makes it look just like his fastball, pulls a lot of speed off of it. I tend to have a lot more movement in my changeup than speed off of it. I'd like to have his changeup. He has good changing speed off his fastball and his changeup.

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

Matt Jackson: Nate Freiman. It's amazing how the ball jumps off his bat when he hits it. It would be amazing to see what he would do with an aluminum bat in college.

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