MadFriars' Interview: Joe Ross

PEORIA, AZ: Joe Ross,18, was taken in the first round by the Padres in the 2011 draft out of Bishop O'Dowd High in the Bay Area.

Ross, who is the younger brother of Tyson Ross, the former Cal Bear and currently in the Oakland A's organization, was considered the fourth best prospect, for both college and high school, in the state of California by Baseball America coming into the draft.

He signed on the day of the draft deadline spurning a full ride to UCLA along with his now teammate catcher Austin Hedges to start his professional career. A lanky 6'3" right-hander, Ross' deceptively slow delivery masks a fastball that sits in the low 90s and in the spring was able to touch 96 MPH.

To say that he impressed the Padres' organization so far would be a massive understatement.

"He has great composure but he also has a really good arm," said Willie Blair, the Fort Wayne TinCaps pitching coach who worked closely with him at both the Instructional League and spring training.

"Just unbelievable stuff. He even looks like he's grown from when I saw him in the Instructional League a few months ago."

We caught up with Joe at the end of spring training to find out the reasons behind his decision to turn pro and what he thinks of professional baseball so far.

What was the biggest reason that you turned pro?

Joe Ross: The biggest reason was where I was drafted I thought this was the best chance and opportunity for me to have a professional career and I have not regretted one moment.

Obviously money is a big component of any decision but did the specific organization that drafted you have anything to do with your decision?

Joe Ross: Sure it had quite a bit to do with it. All of the coaches and coordinators that I have met are just great guys both on and off the field. Just being here for almost three weeks I've become pretty good friends with all of them and been able to connect on a personal level other than baseball.

The past year they were the number one organization in Baseball America, so to me that shows that I am in a good place.

After you got signed you went to the Arizona League for an inning and then to the Instructs.

Now that you are nearly through Spring Training what is the biggest change you see in yourself as a pitcher now from when you threw your last high school game?

Joe Ross: The competition is much better, that is the first thing you always notice. It forces me to become a better pitcher, particularly with location. There are a lot of guys that throw hard and you can't just blow fastballs by people.

I realized that I had to work extremely hard on my fastball command and really all of my pitches because you can't just rely upon one pitch if you want to be successful.

When you talk to the Padres' pitching staff they always preach fastball command, particularly with the four-seamer. Is that what you found when you got here?

Joe Ross: Oh yeah, that is easily their biggest thing. Especially low and away.

On the pitches you throw, I am assuming its a four and two-seamer, change and what is your breaking ball?

Joe Ross: A slider and its been getting much better the past few days. I throw mostly four-seamers for fastballs.

It must be a big change for you having to mix up your pitches compared to high school where you could just go out and throw four-seam fastballs all day.

Joe Ross: I threw a lot of fastballs in high school and I did mix pitches but not to the extent that I do now.

How much did it help having an older brother, Tyson Ross, that was drafted and now in the major leagues?

Joe Ross: Seeing him go through the process did help. He wasn't in the minor leagues for too long and understanding that I wasn't going to go immediately to the big leagues.

Although Tyson didn't spend that much time in the minors.

I saw everything that he had to do to get where he is now, mainly his work ethic. So I have an idea of what I need to do in order to get to where I need to be.

I thought you might start off at Eugene, just because that is what the Padres usually do with pitchers just out of high school in their first year. But your performance in the Instructs and in Spring Training has gotten you a spot in the Midwest League.

I know you want to compete at the highest level you can but I'm sure the team also doesn't want you to throw 180 + innings either in your first year of professional baseball.

Joe Ross: The only time we actually talked about innings was the day I signed at PETCO where they had a chart on how they wanted to increase my innings each year.

I'm hoping to break with Fort Wayne but if I don't I'll keep working hard either way.

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