MadFriars' Interview: Matt Wisler

FORT WAYNE, IN: RHP Matt Wisler was taken in the seventh round of the 2011 draft, which in a few years may go down as one of the Padres' best drafts.

The 6'3" Ohio native was thought to be a lock to go to Ohio State but San Diego was able to go far enough above the recommended slot amount to convince him the best time to start his pro career was right now.

Although most people are aware of the big money spent on their Fort Wayne teammates Joe Ross and Austin Hedges what was impressive about last year's Padres' draft was the organization's willingness to spend money when they spent a little over $800,000 to secure pitchers like Wisler and Justin Hancock.

The team liked enough of what they saw of him in spring training this year to put him in the rotation.

So far the results have been pretty good. In five starts Wisler, 19, has a 3.16 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 25.2 innings against only 9 walks.

You're from Ohio and supposedly according to Baseball America you had a pretty strong commitment to go to Ohio State but you ended up signing with the Padres. What convinced you to go pro?

Matt Wisler: The biggest reason was that playing major league baseball has always been one of my biggest goals. I was given an opportunity to learn the wood bat game and thought that I had to take it.

College would have been a good experience but everything that I have heard from a variety of people if you really want to pitch in the big leagues its better to start earlier than later.

People ask us what the difference is between going to the pros as compared to college. The easiest I can come up with is that here its much more about development than winning. For example Coach Blair [the TinCaps pitching coach] isn't going to throw you a few extra innings to beat Burlington.

Matt Wisler: [laughs] No, that is not going to happen. I've heard that too. Here you can have a few bad starts and they are still going to give you the next start as long as they think you are making progress towards getting better.

If I had gone to Ohio State I'm not sure that would happen.

Pitching against wooden bats must be much more enjoyable than throwing against aluminum.

Matt Wisler: Its a lot easier to pitch too. You can get the broken bat hits occasionally but its much more fair.

In high school did you pitch inside much? You talk to some guys and everything was on the outside part of the plate just because there is so much bigger sweet spot on the bat to deal with.

Matt Wisler: I normally tried to use both sides of the plate but against better hitters I tried to stay away from the inside portion. The area that I was at I we didn't have the greatest hitters so I was used to throwing to both sides.

To me this just seems like a huge change for you. Last year you were in high school going to different classes and now you are out on your own trying to make it as a professional baseball player.

Matt Wisler: Its been pretty crazy. Last year at this time I came out here and got a chance to talk to Keyvius [Sampson] and Jose [Dore] about their decisions to go pro. Now a year later I am in the same spot.

Its different not having classes and just baseball but so far its been really good.

How has it been living on your own? Doing your own cooking and laundry and other stuff?

Matt Wisler: Its been a big change for me. But at the same time my parents aren't that far away so when I have an off day I try to go home and hang out some and get a home cooked meal.

How has it been used to getting used to the talent? Ohio has good high school baseball but now you are competing against a lot of guys that are three and four years older than you that have all had success.

Matt Wisler: Facing the better competition the big thing for me is just learning what pitches to throw in which situations. Learning how to read hitter's swings and figuring out what they are trying to do.

In high school if someone was late on the fastball you could pretty much throw them all day and you were going to get them out. Here its not always the case.

What pitches do you throw?

Matt Wisler: Four and two-seam fastballs. Curve, slider and change.

The Padres usually make guys pick either a slider or curve? Why did you get to keep both?

Matt Wisler: Last year when I went to Instructs they told me to pick one and I chose the slider. But in the spring I was kind of messing around with the curve and they let me throw both.

The two-seamer seems like a really tough pitch to master.

Matt Wisler: My main thing is to start it in the middle and let it trail in. Sometimes I start it to far in and its out of the strike zone.

I really want to learn how to throw it to the outside part of the plate and have it come back.

What's been your biggest surprise so far?

Matt Wisler: Coming here. I thought I was going to go to extended and then to Eugene.

How did they let you know you were coming here?

Matt Wisler: A lot of the young guys had really good springs. I was in the hotel room with my roomate Justin Hancock and they told us to pack our bags for the U-Haul and they said we were off to Fort Wayne.

What is the biggest thing you are trying to work on here?

Matt Wisler: The biggest thing for me is learning how to pitch to pro hitters. Reading bat speeds and how to pitch to them in places where they don't want to see the ball.


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