MadFriars' Interview: Colin Rea

LAKE ELSINORE - RHP Colin Rea has always been someone the Padres believed has a lot of talent. At six-foot-five, 220 lbs. with a solid two-seam fastball that arrives in the low 90s to go along with a good cutter, the organization had always assumed Rea was capable of much more than his numbers indicated.

In 2013, after posting an 0-5 record and 6.05 ERA in Lake Elsinore, he was sent back to Fort Wayne where the former Indiana State Sycamore put up a 2.09 ERA in 43 innings and earned a trip back to Lake Elsinore for 2014.

This year Rea, 23, was much better with the Storm with a 3.88 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 139 innings against only 37 walks for an 11-9 mark.

“We talked about having a different demeanor out on the mound,” said Bronswell Patrick, the Storm’s pitching coach.

“If you hit a guy, you hit a guy. You didn’t try to do it on purpose. Move on to the next guy, don’t get intimidated by the hitters, you intimidate the hitters.”

“He has really taken that to hear this year as far as being more aggressive about pitching inside as compared to last year when he didn’t like to do that. If you are a right-handed pitcher, especially to right-handed hitters, you have to establish the inside part of the plate to be able to go to the outside or batters are just going to lean over and kill you. ”

“And Colin has done that this year.” We caught up with Colin in the last week of the season to talk about his improvement in 2014.

When we talked to you in the spring you were coming off of a tough year at Lake Elsinore where you had to go back to Fort Wayne to get back on track.

This season with the Storm you have pitched really well. What were some of the things that got you to where you are now?

Colin Rea: I think it was more of just having more of an aggressive mindset of just challenging hitters, which is something that I can control. I also just started to have more conviction with what I was throwing because if I didn’t, I wasn’t going to be successful.

We talked about that in the spring a little bit too.

You talk about being aggressive, but if you catch to much of the plate you are criticized for not being enough of a pitcher. If you are on the edges too much you are criticized for not being aggressive enough.

How do you strike a balance?

Colin Rea: You always want the hitter to put the ball in play because when you are walking guys there is nothing good about that. If he has to hit it there is a good chance that one of my fielders still might be able to make a play. Although I have given up quite a few hits.

You also play in an interesting league with some fun parks for pitchers.

Colin Rea: True, but I also probably caught a little bit more of the plate than I should have too. The last few weeks I’ve given up some big home runs that have hurt, but also on a lot of hits when I have made good pitches as well.

I don’t like when that happens but I would much rather be on the aggressive side than on the non-aggressive side.

Is part of the maturing process learning how to throw and learn from bullpens which will give you confidence when you are out on the mound in games?

Colin Rea: I would say so. Even having the right mind set in the bullpen on what you want to work on is very important. For example the last few weeks I have really been working on a splitter because my change-up has not been where I wanted it for a long time.

So that has been my main focus in the bullpen for the past month. It is also important to not try to read too much into it because there are going to be days where some are better than others. You have to learn how to take what is positive out of each session.

It seems like you are learning how to process information to improve.

Colin Rea: It is a huge process on trying to stay even keel and just focus on getting better all the time. It’s part of learning how to become a pro.

What pitch has progressed most for you this year and which one still needs the most work?

Colin Rea: I was hoping the changeup would come around, because I think a good changeup is the second best pitch other than a good fastball, but it never really got consistent.

Is it the grip or the motion?

Colin Rea: I really don’t know. If I did I would be throwing it more [laughs]. I couldn’t figure it out. It was always two or three miles an hour slower than my fastball which didn’t work.

Because of my size a splitter might be a little easier. For the pitch that has come along the most it would probably be my curve.

The curve is really tough to master and to be consistent with.

Colin Rea: I have thrown it since my sophomore year of junior college and it has been so inconsistent.

Mine used to be more of a loopier curve ball and now it has tightened up. If I really get out in front of it, its a 12-6 curve. Something just clicked in the second half when I had a better feel for it. Right now I am getting more out in front of it.

Bronswell [Patrick] has really helped me find the correct release point.

What is the biggest thing you are going to work on in the off-season.

Colin Rea: Get some rest, but after that I have to fine tune my pitches. They are there, but they need to be more consistent.

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