MadFriars' Interview: Cody Hebner

LAKE ELSINORE, CA: Cody Hebner, 22, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 draft by the Padres out of Green River Community College in Washington state.

The slight Hebner has always draw comparisons to fellow Washington native Tim Lincecum in his slight six foot build and his ability to unleash upper 90 MPH fastballs.

Last year with the TinCaps he was 7-7 with 110 strikeouts in 109.2 innings but also walked 50 with an ERA of 5.01. This year the organization decided to move him to the bullpen where his plus fastball and sweeping slider would be more sustainable.

This year while his ERA has been a little high at 4.00 he has the type of numbers, particularly in his strikeouts to innings pitched ratio 36/27 that is nice to see in a reliever.

How has the transition been from going from the starting rotation to the bullpen?

Cody Hebner: It's been awesome because I really just love to pitch. The organization is going to do what is best for me and my career. I'm getting the hang of it, obviously it is a little different having to warm up quicker, but its been fun.

When you come in you feel everyone relying upon you and you are either going to be the hero or the goat. I like the pressure.

For someone that has a rather slight build its amazing how hard you throw. Whenever I am in the press box and you are pitching the first words are always, "Is he really throwing 96?"

Is it kind of an advantage that people seem to underestimate you?

Cody Hebner: [laughs] I guess I would kind of think the same thing too. I always have kind of loose fitting clothes on and I'm just having a good time.It kind of plays to your strengths too. You come in for middle relief and you can really dial it up.

Cody Hebner: I love being a starter - and it could happen again, you never know - but I like the fact that you only have to worry about just getting these three outs. You don't have to worry about going over a lineup a second time.

I leave it on the line when I am out there.

It has to be something that really feels good in your mind that its going to be pure strength to pure strength. If you are going to get beat its going to be with your best stuff.

Cody Hebner: Exactly, you just said it. Here is my stuff as a starter, I don't want to show this too early, but in relief its different. You only have to face the guys once and there are so many things you can do.

Its what makes baseball awesome, there are always so many things you can learn.

The big fastball gets everyone's attention but the bottom drops out of your changeup.

Cody Hebner: First that was probably my slider, not my changeup which I really don't throw that much.

I'm sorry, the speed difference was just so great I thought it was a change.

Cody Hebner: There is a pretty good difference in the speeds.

I think the slider was clocked at 79 after a fastball at 96.

Cody Hebner: [laughs] Yeah, that was fun. Its one of the reasons that I love coming to the ballpark and just participating in the mental game.

What do you throw?

Cody Hebner: Right now mainly just four-seamers and sliders.

No two-seamers?

Cody Hebner: I can throw it but I just don't feel too comfortable with it yet. My four-seamer has a natural run to it, so I'm pretty happy with it.

Why don't you throw a change-up?

Cody Hebner: I will drop a change-up here and there, but its really a tough pitch for me.

So many other pitchers have also said the same thing. Isn't it all about the grip?

Cody Hebner: I have found a grip that I do like and can throw it, but it is really a tough pitch. For it to work it has to be from the exact same arm angle and speed, and its tough.

What is the biggest thing that you are working on as you move forward?

Cody Hebner: My walks, first pitch strikes and not getting behind batters. I want to eliminate free bases. There is such a thing as a batter giving up at-bats and I think with pitchers the same type of thing can also happen.

If you have a guy 0-2 and you leave a pitch with too much of the plate that is a hit. I don't want to give up walks and cheap hits. I've been better at staying down in the zone more and want to continue that.

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