MadFriars' Interview: Matt Wisler

SAN ANTONIO, TX: In the past few years Matt Wisler has risen from an obscure seventh round pick out of a small town in Ohio to the Padres' top prospect in 2014.

Wisler, 21, got a long look in spring training before being shipped out to San Antonio where in six starts he threw 30 innings with 35 strikeouts against only six walks, three of which came in one start, and gave up 26 hits for a 2.10 ERA and a 1-0 record.

At the end of the month, despite saying earlier that they had planned to keep him in the AA Texas League earlier, promoted him to AAA El Paso, which should be his last time in the minors before breaking into San Diego.

On our recent trip to San Antonio we caught up with Matt before he left for El Paso.

You got to be in big league camp for awhile this spring. How did it go for you?

Matt Wisler: I really enjoyed it. It was fun just to go and be around so many of the big leaguers and get to know them and feel comfortable with them. It was also fun interacting with the coaches like Darren Balsley and see how he looks at the game.

I really enjoyed it and learned how those guys prepare for games.

If you spoke with Balsley I can imagine the first thing he preached to you was fastball command.

Matt Wisler: True, he preaches down and away with the fastball.

When we talk fastball that is such a broad category and can mean so many things. You throw a four-seamer and two-seamer. How have they been going?

Matt Wisler: My first few starts I didn't have that good a command. Everything was kind of tailing away from me.

I was falling behind a lot. The past few starts I've been working with JJ [Jimmie Johnson, the Missions' pitching coach] and everything has been working much better with both the two and four-seamer.

When you talk about your command being off its important to remember you are also throwing over ninety miles per hour. If you can, tell us in very broad terms what was "off".

Matt Wisler:For me I was a little hunched over as opposed to straight up. So my arm path wasn't the same and I wasn't getting on top of the ball enough. I started keeping my back a little straighter and that really helped.

I can imagine in big league camp everyone was preaching to you about a third pitch, and for you that means your change-up. Was there anything you picked up in camp about arm speed or grips for the change-up?

Matt Wisler: The biggest thing was keeping the same path and arm speed with the change-up as I with my fastball. I found that I was turning my wrist a little too much. Is it tough throwing the change-up a lot when you know you can get batters out down here with your fastball and slider? How do you balance between development and competing?

Matt Wisler: Here it is mostly developmental but that doesn't mean I'm not going to get upset if I am giving up hits. The big part is you just have to trust the work that you put in will pay off.

The last few outings I've faced more lefties, so I've gotten a chance to work with my change-up a little more.

In terms of your catcher Austin Hedges all of you guys rave about him. We can see his arm and athleticsm behind the plate but the first thing all of you guys talk about is his ability to call games. What makes him so successful at doing that?

Matt Wisler: He's just a really smart player. He knows what hitters are looking for and he knows us. He knows me and how I like to pitch. You are always in the flow of the game with him.

How much more relaxed are you this year, your second season in AA?

Matt Wisler: A lot more comfortable. I've been around all of the parks and know the coaching staff really well. I've played with most of these guys since I've been drafted so it really helps me get my work done.

You are so close to the big leagues. How do you try to keep that not in the forefront of your mind and take care of your business?

Matt Wisler: I haven't really thought about it that much. You get in trouble when you are not trying to think about how to get better everyday.

When, and if it happens, I need to be as ready as I can to help the team.

I asked Justin Hancock this too, between you, Justin and Colin Rea - all of you are very good friends - who is the better hitter?

Matt Wisler: [laughs] Ah, I haven't seen Rea hit but I've seen Justin hit and I've struck out nearly every time. So right now I would have to go with Colin because he doesn't have the track record that Justin and I do.


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