MadFriars' Interview: Nick Vincent

SAN ANTONIO -- When you are a late round draft pick and pitching in middle relief in the minors, lets just say you don't get a lot of love or press.

But Nick Vincent, 25, and his cutter are an exception to that rule.

Vincent, who who was drafted in the eighteenth round by the San Diego Padres in the 2008 draft has the numbers everyone looks for in a relief pitcher; an ability to make batters swing and miss and not walk anyone.

Drafted out of Long Beach State, after two earlier seasons with Palomar College, the former Ramona Bulldog put up so-so numbers before finding his niche in Lake Elsinore in 2010.

A slight 6 feet and 175 lbs. Vincent is kind of a mini version of the New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera in that he throws a cut fastball, or cutter, a in about ninety percent of the time.

Last season for the Missions he struck out 89 batters in 79.1 innings pitched for an 8-2 record and 2.27 ERA.

We caught up with Nick in San Antonio where he made a brief stop in San Antonio after coming off a spring training injury to his ankle before going up to the big club.

Mike Saeger, the announcer for the Missions, said something really interesting last night. He said that you were actually cut from your freshman high school baseball team in Ramona.

Is that true?

Nick Vincent: Yeah, it is. I didn't make the freshman team but the JV coach was one of our Little League coaches. All of the freshman football coaches were the football guys so they had never seen me play before.

I didn't do very well in the tryouts but the JV coaches knew I could play. I ended up as the starting shortstop that year so it worked out ok.

Usually all of you guys are the stars from the very start in high school.

Nick Vincent: It wasn't like that for me I was a shortstop and outfielder in high school.

I did throw in high school but I wasn't that good..

[Nick's being modest. According to the Long Beach State Athletic website, he was the Valley League Pitcher of the Year in 2004, his senior year, when he had a 6-6 record with a 2.73 ERA but struck out 90 for Ramona High School]

You went to Palomar College and then to Long Beach State correct?

Nick Vincent: My junior and senior years of high school I started to pitch more but I wasn't overpowering or anything like that.

At Palomar I just walked on and ended up making the team and something just clicked. I started to throw harder and better.

Everyone talks so much about you throwing the cutter but that is a pitch you develop in the pros. What were you throwing at Long Beach State?

Nick Vincent: I was mainly throwing a fastball and slider. I was always a fastball/slider guy with an occasional curve and change but when you are in the pen its really about two pitches.

The cutter came along in the middle of the 2010 season and it kind of developed from there. I just started to mess around with it playing catch and started to feel comfortable enough to use it in games.

It would go into lefties and away from righties and I was getting ground ball outs.

The cutter is kind of small slider. Right?

Nick Vincent: It has that fastball spin and it has a late break. The main thing it does is create bad contact or mishits.

You throw it so much can you throw it on both sides of the plate.

Nick Vincent: I can throw it on both sides of the plate so they may know its coming just not where.

It seems like everything really came together for you last year with the Missions.

In 2011 Vincent struck out 89 in 79.1 IP.

Nick Vincent: I think I had better numbers in [Lake] Elsinore but what really helped me here was being able to grip the ball.

That is what was messing me up in Tucson it was so dry I just could never get the right grip and everything was just spinning.

It had to be a big thrill for you to get put on the 40 man roster this winter.

Nick Vincent: Definitely. I was working a lot in the off-season with one of my friends companies and when they put me on the roster it was like, ‘ok, I'm done - I got to start working at baseball.'

I worked out with my agencies trainer in Ventura and then came down to spring training.

ou got some really good reviews from Bud Black and Darren Balsley. Is it tough to say focussed now that you are getting this close?

Nick Vincent: I got called up earlier and it felt good but right now I'm more worried about how I am performing. I need to get smarter with pitches but I'm also starting to put the ball where I want to consistently.

When you are not pitching well you can't get worried about getting called up. When I have some consistent success then I will think about that.

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