MadFriars' Spring Training: Colin Rea

PEORIA, AZ:  Colin Rea,23, was drafted in the twelfth round out of Indiana State in 2011. He pitched his freshman year at Northern Iowa University, the last year that they fielded a baseball team, and the next at St. Petersburg Community College before going to Terre Haute for his lone season as a Sycamore.

The  tall right-hander at six-foot-five and a solid 220 lbs. he has the type of build and fluid delivery that scouts look for in a prospect.   He mainly relies upon a two-seamer/sinker combination to get batters out topping out around 94.

He had a solid first year in Eugene before running into problems with his command in Fort Wayne in 2012 and Lake Elsinore in 2013.  In Lake Elsinore he struggled with an 0-5 record and 6.07 ERA before being demoted back to Fort Wayne.

In Fort Wayne he seemed to find what he left in Eugene where he was 2-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 43 innings.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio still wasn't great at 38/22, but he did seem to turn the corner.

This spring the Padres sent Rea back to Lake Elsinore where after struggling in his first two outings he bounced back to get his first win of the season on Tuesday night.

We caught up with Colin at the end of spring training to talk about what went wrong and what went right last year and what he will take into this season at the Diamond.

You struggled the first half in Lake Elsinore last season, Then you went back to Fort Wayne and pitched really well. What was the big change for you?

Colin Rea: I felt that in Lake Elsinore I got away from what I do well. I had a decent spring training and going into the season I just lost focus of the main concept. Getting ahead on strike one and just generally throwing strikes.

I started to have trouble commanding my fastball which led to me having confidence issues.

When I got to Fort Wayne I switched some stuff up with my mechanics, which helped my confidence and went back to what I should have been doing all along; getting ahead and throwing strikes. The key was having confidence in what I was throwing and Burt Hooten [the TinCaps pitching coach] did a great job in helping me out.

It's easy to write about saying you need to throw with confidence. How did you do it, especially after getting demoted? It seems like it would be real easy just to get into a type of bad spiral?

Colin Rea: When I went down to Fort Wayne I told myself that I had nothing to lose with being aggressive. If it wasn't going to work out for me, it wasn't going to be because I wasn't going to use what got me here in the first place.

I just talked with a lot of the older guys and sometimes taking a step back helps you take a step forward. I think it will help me out this year.

Pitchers like yourself always talk about being more aggressive, especially with commanding your fastball. When you talk about being more aggressive does that mean you are not being as focused on hitting a spot with the philosophy of if I throw a good pitch, what happens, happens?

Colin Rea: It's having confidence in yourself and the players behind you. I look at that I have eight guys out there behind me to help me.

Also, a big part is just throwing the pitch with conviction and believing that it's going to go and do what it is supposed to do has been a big key with me.

Even the catcher can tell you when you don't seem to be fully into it and that can't happen. It's really important to keep that focus in mind.

Right now that seems to be your biggest key, the mental side as opposed to the physical.

Colin Rea: It is. I just can't emphasize it enough.

What do you throw?

Colin Rea: I throw both the four-seam and two-seam fastballs but I have a better feel right now for the two-seamer.

To me, the two-seamer seems tougher because you never really know where it is going.

Colin Rea: It is but mine doesn't move as much as some of the other guys. For some reason it has always felt good to me. Some games I will only throw four or five four-seamers the whole game.

I also throw a change-up and a curve. With the change-up I have been working on a new grip so it's starting to feel better. My curve has just been real inconsistent so I need to tighten it up.

I also throw a cutter, although it looks more like a slider right now. I've felt really comfortable with it so far and have even been using it when I am behind in the count. It's just something different than a fastball.

What has been the biggest thing you have been working on this spring?

Colin Rea: I just want to come in and be aggressive, especially with my fastball. I know I have already walked a batter this spring and that is too many.

That is my biggest goal to stay away from walks and getting behind in the count, because when it happens it can really hurt you. Last question. I know you lived with Matt Wisler and Justin Hancock this winter. Is Wisler still as good a cook as he claims to be with his Foreman Grill?

Colin Rea: [laughs] You know what he can cook. He likes to cook and I enjoy eating, so it works out for everyone.

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