MadFriars' Interview: Kevin Quackenbush

PEORIA, AZ: Kevin Quackenbush, 24, was taken in the eighth round out of the University of South Florida by the Padres in the 2011 draft. In four years with the Bulls he struck out 141 batters in 107 innings against only 53 walks.

While he pitched well in his first three years Quackenbush is the classic late bloomer with his best season coming in his senior year when he had a 0.81 ERA with 12 saves and a 45/7 K/BB ration. It was his first season of posting a sub 1.00 ERA and so far in his pro career the highest ERA he has posted was last year in Lake Elsinore at 0.94.

Quackenbush is the rare player that has been better since he became a pro with a career 0.78 ERA in 104 innings pitched. By any pitching metric that you can implement, strikeouts to base-on-balls, hits to innings pitched, he has done well.

So what makes him so successful?

While his fastball sits in the low to mid-90s and as his strikeout to base-on-balls ratio indicates he can command it, his secondary pitches and two-seam fastball right now are ordinary. His biggest advantage is that batters just can't find his release point.

We caught up with Kevin at the end of spring to talk about what he's been working on and how much he is looking forward to pitching in San Antonio.

What was the biggest thing you have been trying to take from last year into this season?

Kevin Quackenbush: Not too much. I'm always trying to work on locating my fastball better on both sides of the plate and mix some curves.

Basically the same approach.

The biggest thing with you that I have noticed and others have written about as well, is that the batters can never find the ball when it comes out of your hand.

Is that something that comes naturally or is it something that you worked on?

Kevin Quackenbush: It must just be the way I throw [laughing]. Its not something that I have worked on. You throw a lot of fastballs. There has been some thoughts that as you go up you are going to have to develop other pitches as well.

However, being the closer and coming in at crucial times there isn't a lot of time to experiment.

How do you balance that?

Kevin Quackenbush: Spring training is the best because once the games start I go with what I'm good at, fastballs. I usually throw a little more curves and I've worked on a cutter a little bit too.

The cutter seems like a pretty tough pitch to master. If you miss its something soft in the middle of the plate.

Kevin Quackenbush: It is. I tried learning the slider last year but never could get the finish right. The cutter is ok so far.

You have to be pretty happy so far of what you have accomplished so far. You were kind of a lower round pick and you have really put up some numbers.

Did you always think you would get a chance to close?

Kevin Quackenbush: I was going to take any chance I could get. Anything that gets me to the major leagues was and is going to make me happy.

What was your off-season like?

Kevin Quackenbush: I worked out about three or four times a week. Ran a little and started throwing around January. I start working off of the mound in February.

After pitching in Lake Elsinore and the Cal League last year you must be happy to be going to a "fair" park in San Antonio.

Kevin Quackenbush: Yes, I've heard some very good things about it and yes, I think its going to be very "fair".

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