MadFriars' Interview: Brad Brach

WASHINGTON DC: Brad Brach, 26, was taken in the forty-second round of the 2008 draft by the San Diego Padres after a four year career at Monmouth College in New Jersey, a Division III school.

This is not someone that was supposed to rocket to the major leagues but Brach ended up beating San Diego's 2008 first round pick Allen Dykstra to the majors and right now is the only player selected in his round to make the big leagues.

In five minor league seasons Brach picked up 113 saves and struck out 286 batters in 230 innings for a 2.23 ERA.

Last year at the end of August Brad finally go the call to the majors and after a brief seven game stint in AAA this season he seems to be back with the big club for good.

"We've been working with Brad since he's gotten back and he's been able to take what we've talked to him about and taken it to the mound," said Bud Black before the recent Washington Nationals' series.

"We really like what we have seen."

You pitched so well in the minors it still must have been a bit of a shock when you got called up to the big leagues.

Brad Brach: Oh yeah. But then again anytime you get called up its a surprise but at the same time you have to be ready to go.

Its always in the back of your and that it might happen but when it does its still a a bit of a shock.

When you first started in Fort Wayne you had tremendous success early on. Was that a big building block in your confidence?

Brad Brach: Definitely because any time you have that success it helps you. Also to keep having it was big because anytime you have success you start to think that maybe you do have a shot.

I've always thought it was a dumb question on my part because I have always asked what is the difference between the Midwest League and the Cal League. Or the Texas League and the PCL and the response from all you guys is "its just baseball."

Is it just the consistency that gets better?

Brad Brach: That is pretty much it. From my point of view hitters just miss less, more mistakes are going to get hit.

I know I've asked you this before, but when you got drafted wasn't your philosophy kind of ‘I have to take a shot at doing this before I get a real job'?

Brad Brach: [laughs] Yeah I had one semester less of school. So I went back and finished my student teaching in history education. My Mom she forced me to go back because you never know what can happen.

If baseball works out great if not I could be a teacher.

It seems like that can take a lot of pressure off of you?

Brad Brach: True. After being around baseball for awhile there are not a lot of guys who have their degrees so it kind of put me ahead of the game if baseball didn't work out.

You had success on the way up but you also saw some physical changes in your velocity picked up quite a bit since you were signed.

Brad Brach: That was also a big confidence boost. I wasn't staying where I was at and I was getting better. My off-speed got much better along with my velocity.

The numbers were good but the stuff was also getting better.

When I was in San Antonio you always had the ability to place your four-seamer on the outside corner but you were working on a split to throw inside to hitters.

How is that coming along?

Brad Brach: I actually had a split and a change-up. In spring training the coaches came up to me and asked if my split was effective and how much do I throw it?

I said that I only threw it with nobody on base and either 0-1 or 0-2 counts. So they said lets just stick with the changeup. Since I've done that I've thrown nothing but change-ups and sliders and right now they are the best that I've thrown them.

They have come a long way since we last talked.

You used to be pretty adamant that you didn't throw a change?

Brad Brach: [laughs] I know, I know. This past off-season I started to mess around with a grip and I found it. When I was in college my fastball/change-up combination was by far my best pitch.

When I got to pro ball it became my fastball/slider. For some reason the change never really took hold.

You made the opening day roster, then got sent down to Tucson and are now back up. What were the final things you were working on so you could stay in the big leagues?

Brad Brach: When I got sent down they told me I had to throw strikes, which had never been a problem in the minor leagues. I was just trying to be perfect too much of the time and I started to concentrate on just throwing good pitches.

Good pitches can become great pitches. They really wanted me to throw quality pitches.

That sounds like much easier advice for me to write than to put in place on the mound. For example the home run that you gave up to Kemp was on the outside corner and only missed slightly.

I've seen you throw that same pitch a number of times before in the minors and that is a weak fly to right.

Brad Brach: That is one of the bigger differences up here. The guys here are the best in the world.

What has been the biggest surprise coming up?

Brad Brach: Just how welcoming everyone is. I've heard stories where older guys are tough to be around they don't let the young guys do anything. Here it is very different. [Mark] Kotsay and [Jeff] Suppan have been great.

These guys have been around in the majors for over ten years and they have just been a lot of help. How welcoming the veterans have been is the most surprising to me.

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