MadFriars' Interview Anthony Bass

San Antonio Missions' pitcher may be the best pitcher in the system that most Padres' fans have not heard off. He's off to a strong start, his velocity is up and he throws strikes.

SAN ANTONIO: Starting pitcher Anthony Bass was picked in the 5th round out of Wayne State University by the San Diego Padres in the 2008 draft.

Going into the season the right-hander had compiled a 22 and 13 record with a 2.13 ERA in three and half minor league seasons. Despite not receiving much fanfare Bass, 23, is more of a prospect than many would believe.

In the lexicon of the previous regime he would be known as a "strike thrower" which is true but unlike the other pitchers whom that term applied to he also brings along a mid-90s four-seam fastball to go along with a quality slider and change.

He's off to a good start in the first six weeks on the season with a 5-2 record and a 3.78 ERA. In eight starts he has only walked 13 batters against 40 strikeouts in 47.2 innings pitched.

At 6'2" and 200 lbs. he is a power pitcher who can consistently throw low hard fastballs to both sides of the plate. He is someone to watch.

I've always been amazed how you kind of have gone "under the radar". You've put up some great numbers since you've been in the Padres organization at every stop. What has been the biggest reason for your success?

Anthony Bass: I'm pretty confident in my ability and stuff no matter how much hype is on the batter. I just go after the guy.

Another facet of your game that doesn't get enough attention is how much velocity you have. Are you in the low 90's?

Anthony Bass: I actually touched 98 the other night. My velocity has really come along way since I was drafted. I've put on some weight and got on a good throwing program.

Where did you tend to be setting at?

Anthony Bass: Around 93 or 94 with my four-seamer.

I'm assuming in addition you throw a two-seam, change, as do all Padres' pitchers.

Anthony Bass: Yeah the change, I remember that when Grady [Fuson, the former Vice-President of Minor League Development and Scouting] was here. At least twenty percent had to be changes. Thank the Lord those days are gone.

And your breaking pitch?

Anthony Bass: A slider.

I have to go back to that comment, "Thank the Lord that is gone."

Anthony Bass: Grady is a good guy but I like to throw the changeup when I want too not when I have too. Sometimes I will throw it up to twenty-five percent of the time other times ten. It just really depends on the situation.

You must have a pretty good relationship with your catchers for that much variance. What is the predominant pitch that you throw?

Anthony Bass: Mainly a four-seamer. Its my bread and butter pitch.

To throw that consistently you must have great accuracy. It must be on both sides of the plate at the knees.

Anthony Bass: [laughs] I hope so. This year it is cutting a little more than normal.

That always confuses people that are not pitchers. Is your four-seamer more of a cutter or straight.

Anthony Bass: It's not really a cutter, my slider is pretty tight. The four-seamer has a little bit of a cut to it. In spring training my slider got up to 88 and 89 and Darren Balsley [the Padres' pitching coach] wanted to know if I threw a cutter and I said no, its a slider. Balsley said that it is really more like a cutter than a slider because its not too far off my fastball's velocity.

What is the biggest difference you see from going up the system from Fort Wayne to San Antonio, which is finally a fair park right?

Anthony Bass: [laughs] Hey it is nice here. The lower levels have more hitter that are more aggressive early in the count and swing at pitches outside the zone. As you move up they become more selective and look for their pitch and when they get it they can drive it. And what they consider their zone gets a little smaller as well.

Do the umpires improve too as you go up?

Anthony Bass: Oh yeah. This year the umpires here have been great.

When I talk to people like you and Brad Brach who really rely on the four seamers as opposed to pitchers like Casey Kelly who rely more upon movement, you don't have much room to miss as someone who throws more two-seamers.

It seems like if you are off by a little it ends up being a fat fastball down the middle.

Anthony Bass: I had an outing like that this year where I was not only up but I wasn't hitting thirds of the plate but halves. I got hit pretty hard so I really try hard to not miss.

You talked about your velocity picking up, did anything change with you mechanically to cause this?

Anthony Bass: No not really. They had a few tweaks. The biggest thing was throwing my four-seam fastball down and away to a right-hand batter seven out of ten times. They let me know if I could do that, I can pitch in the big leagues. Its just a very difficult pitch to throw and to hit.

What has been your biggest improvement since you have become a pro?

Anthony Bass: Every year learning and picking up something new. Putting on weight, getting stronger, learning how to pitch against good hitters. I didn't see as many since I went to a small school and you really have to learn how to pitch, keep them off-balance.

To be a pro, its about learning how to pitch as opposed to just throwing.


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