Nick Vincent, 26, an 18th round of the 2008 draft out of Long Beach State by way of Palomar College and Ramona High School, is the prototype relief pitcher.
When Vincent comes in a batter is going to see a cutter, a pitch that is know for its late movement to the non-sweet spot of the bat. He's either going to throw it in so it slides down the handle or out so it makes contact with the end.
He'll mix in a few fastballs, two-seamers and a change, but the cutter is what got him to the big leagues and what will keep him there. His best season was in 2011 with the San Missions were he averaged over a strikeout an inning with a 2.27 ERA and walked only 20 batters in 79.1 innings.
He's overcome some injuries the past few years and after starting the year in Tucson he has been up with the Padres since the end of May. So far he is the same pitcher that we have seen in in the minors with a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings with 15 strikeouts and only five walks.
We caught up with Nick on the Padres' recent road trip in Washington DC.
The biggest thing I noticed from your minor league statistics is that you pitched really well but didn't always get called up maybe when you should. How did you keep from getting down on yourself?
Nick Vincent: For me it just being humble and trying to do my thing. My whole career I've had to try to prove people wrong. I'm small and I don't throw that hard. People are always going to want to take that second look.
True, but don't when you start putting up numbers you think you are getting moved up?
Nick Vincent: Not that much because I get the whole business side of baseball. When you start thinking you should be some place other than where you are is how you start getting into trouble.
For me its just go out there and throw strikes. Sooner or later its going to work out.
Many of the relief pitchers that are brought up here are closers in the minor league which is a different role in the bullpen.
You have always been a set-up guy or in middle relief. Has that made the transition somewhat easier for you because you are being asked to do the same thing?
Nick Vincent: It's no different for me because I am going to throw strikes in whatever role they put me. My goal is to throw as many as I can and hope to get someone to swing at something bad.
You have been up here a few times but how is it different compared to your first time? You are a fan of the game too so it has to be strange pitching to players that you have watched on television.
Nick Vincent: Last year it was a little different, I did experience a bit of what you are talking about but now its just when I start warming up all of that goes out the window. To me they are all the same person.
If you start thinking something like, ‘I'm facing Albert Pujols' something good is not going to happen.
You have always thrown cutters, is it still the same mix?
Nick Vincent: Oh yeah, cutters mixed with some fastballs. I'll throw a change-up every ten appearances and a two-seamer now and then.
What is the most important thing about throwing the cutter?
Nick Vincent: It's a late breaking pitch that relies on deception. The key for me is to get ahead of hitters because if I don't I'm going to have to catch more of the plate, which I don't want to do.
When things go wrong for me it can be a whole bunch of things my arm angle or that I'm rushing to the plate. The biggest thing I try to tell myself is to just get on top of it.