MadFriars' Interview: Brad Brach

Once again, Brad Brach a 42nd round draft pick in 2008, is leading the league in saves. He did it last year in the Cal League and the year before in the Midwest League. Find out how he's improved this season and how much his velocity has gone up since he came to San Diego.

SAN ANTONIO: Brad Brach was a 42nd round draft pick out of Monmouth University College in New Jersey, a Division III school, by the Padres in the 2008 draft. A four-year starter in college and the career leader in wins and strikeouts, San Diego moved him to the closer role in the bullpen during the Arizona League and he hasn't looked back.

Brach, 25, has not only led every team in saves that he has been on in his three and half year career, he has also led every league.

So why doesn't Brach get more attention?

One relief pitchers tend not be valued as much as starters, particularly in the minors, and there are questions whether Brach truly has a special, or wipeout pitch to be as successful as he moves up.

The problem with this analysis is that it was the same thing that was said about him moving up from the Arizona League to the Midwest League, the Midwest League to the Cal League...

We all know how it worked out.

The 6'6" right-hander relies upon his command of the four-seam fastball, a pitch that he has the uncanny ability to place consistently on the outside corner of the plate.

We caught up again with Brad in San Antonio where once again he is leading the league in saves.

We talked to Doug Dascenzo last night and I wasn't aware that your velocity now is up to 95 to 96 MPH?

Brad Brach: [laughs] Yeah, it's been moving up.

When you were in Fort Wayne it was around 88 to 89 MPH. How did it go up that much?

Brad Brach: Honestly I don't know. Its maybe just getting older and my body maturing. Also it might finally be getting used to only going one inning as opposed to being a starter in college.

When I first started in Fort Wayne it was topping out at 88 to maybe 90, as you said. Now I am consistently in the 92 to 93 range and really don't know where I am topping out at.

Have your mechanics changed at all?

Brad Brach: Not really, maybe slightly with my arm angle. I'm now more three quarters as opposed to straight over the top in college.

Was that by design?

Brad Brach: No I didn't even notice until I saw some pictures of myself in the last few years.

We always talked about what you throw, specifically your location. Every time I watch you, especially to right-hand hitters, the ball is always on the outside corner at the knees and someone is trying to pull it.

Do you ever go inside to righties and do they ever try to go the other way with you?

Brad Brach: If I see them leaning over I do come inside. But you know the starters really establish the inside part of the plate and I take advantage of that. I can pick to both sides of the plate, a little more inside to lefties. That is my strength, glove side away.

You're slider has come a long way.

Brad Brach: Definitely, I didn't really start to throw it until my senior year in college. Its just one of those things where the more you throw it the better you get at it.

Is you're slider more of a swing and miss pitch or can you throw it for called strikes? To me it seems like it looks like your four-seamer only it keeps on going off of the plate.

Brad Brach: That is pretty much the way I've been using it. It looks like my fastball, and as you said, just keeps on going. Its really become my out pitch.

How has the spike/forkball been coming. When people give you a hard time they say that it looks good in the bullpen but you don't use it in the game that much.

Brad Brach: This year is actually the first year I really feel comfortable throwing it. In a tight game I am still going to work fastball/slider but its been a good strikeout pitch to lefties.

As a relief pitcher you don't have a whole lot of room to "experiment".

Brad Brach: [laughs] No, you have to come in and take care of business. You have to go right at people but it is good to have the third pitch to mix in.

There is always a big debate about the value of relief pitchers, in particular closers. How important is it for you to know when you are going to go in a game in a certain inning as opposed to just coming in when the situation is tight?

Brad Brach: That kind of plays in it. A routine is really helpful to me because around the fifth or sixth inning I really try to focus. Pay more attention to the hitters. I know I'm supposed to do it the whole game - and I do - but I really try to pick it up as the game gets later.

I was in big league camp this year and got more of a taste of being focused in the middle innings, so that was really helpful.

Isn't a common axiom that a bad bullpen is when the phone rings and no one knows who is supposed to go while a good bullpen is everytime the phone rings everyone knows exactly who is supposed to go in.

Brad Brach: Exactly. For the last three years that has been how it has been. The Padres are really good about the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. It really helps your focus.

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