MadFriars' Interview: Adam Cimber

LAKE ELSINORE - There is a common misconception among some people that baseball players aren’t that bright, it’s more of an instinctive game and people who think too much will never be that good at it.

Obviously these people never met Adam Cimber who graduated from high school with a 3.96 GPA and an AA degree.

Cimber, 23, then graduated from the University of Washington in three years which enabled him to play a fourth year, without sitting out, at the University of San Francisco where he was 6-3 with a 3.74 ERA and nine saves. In 53 innings for the Dons he struck out 59 batters against only 11 walks.

The Padres selected him in the ninth round of the 2013 draft and sent him to Eugene where he also posted impressive numbers of a 2.56 ERA in 31.2 innings against a 27/7 strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio.

For this season the organization got aggressive and promoted the right-handed sidearmer to High-A Lake Elsinore, skipping Low-A Fort Wayne, where he thrived with a 2.90 ERA in 77.2 innings the most of an relief pitcher on the Storm and a 5-3 record.

At six-foot-four and 180 lbs. Cimber appears to be all arms and legs in his twisting, sweeping motion - much like his idol Dennis Eckersley - whom he modeled his pitching style after.

The big flaw in his game right now is that he struggles against left-handed hitters, who hit him at a .347/.382/.568 rate compared to right-handed hitters at .236/.254/.286 line.

“He’s pitched really well for us and he’s going to have success,” said Bronswell Patrick, the Storm’s pitching coach on Cimber’s season.

“He should feel pretty good about what he has accomplished but he needs to become more effective against lefties; especially throwing his changeup to them.”

We caught up with Adam in the last weeks of the season.

What has been the biggest reason for your success this year?

Adam Cimber: I guess just trusting my preparation. I try to get my work done before I go out on in the game so I can have fun and use what I have been working on.

Hopefully, I will get some ground balls to give the guys behind me a chance to make some plays.

When you talk about getting your work done before the game. What are some of the things that you are working on?

Adam Cimber: I’ve been throwing much more on flat ground this year which is kind of like target practice. I just want to get used to hitting spots on the glove.

I try to get my running and core work in. It might not directly apply to what I am directly doing on the mound but it helps you to build to where you want to be. Conditioning and added strength have really helped me this year.

What has been the biggest change in what you are doing now compared to what you were doing in Eugene when you were just out of college?

Adam Cimber: There is a big difference in the way I am pitching. Last year I threw strictly four-seam fastballs and tried to blow them by guys. This year I’ve switched to two-seamers and am trying to force bad contact more and get more ground balls.

If you are looking at it from a statistic standpoint my strikeouts are down but my groundballs are up because I am forcing contact more.

The two-seamer is tough to control, but you don’t have that many walks. You must be pretty accurate.

Adam Cimber: I am trying [laughs]. That has always been one of my strong suits growing up that I could always get the ball over the plate. The difference here is you have to get better at locating pitches as opposed to just throwing strikes.

Guys are hitting it a little harder up here.

You throw a two-seamer, I assume you still throw a four-seamer. What else do you throw?

Adam Cimber: I throw a cutter, a spike curve ball and a change-up. So I have four or five pitches depending on how you count it.

The spike curve ball is a popular phrase now. Can you explain to us what it is?

Adam Cimber: Sure. A spike curve ball is kind of like a knuckle curve ball. You grip it like you would a slider only you knuckle the index finger. For me it gets a little bigger movement.

Somedays I will have it, and other days I won’t. When I don’t have it I will rely on my cutter more.

How does a cutter differ from a two-seamer?

Adam Cimber: The two-seamer has an arm side drop. So if I am throwing it to a right-handed hitter the ball will move in towards him. The cutter has a smaller slider movement so it will go away from him.

Short movement in with the two-seam and short movement out with the cutter; and of course the opposite for left-handed hitters.

Were you a starter at the University of San Francisco?

Adam Cimber: I got one start on the first game of the season as a spot starter at USF for our normal guy. After that I went right back to the pen.

Are you more comfortable coming out of the pen?

Adam Cimber: I guess so because I do it more. In high school I was a starter and in my freshman year I got four starts. I just see an inning as an inning.

You do have an advantage coming out of the pen because you have more pitches than most relievers.

Adam Cimber: That is true but usually I just stick with two pitches coming out of the pen depending on what is working that day. I go more fastball/changeup to lefties and fastball/slider to righties.

You went to the University of Washington and then the University of San Francisco. Did you have an option of going to the pros out of high school?

Adam Cimber: I talked to a few scouts but I was just so young and underdeveloped physically college was a much better option for me and I’m glad I went.

What was the biggest change you noticed from college to the professionals?

Adam Cimber: Just doing the same thing everyday. In college you have school, a little more of a social life and then baseball.

Here you show up to the field every day at one and you are here until ten or eleven. There are games everyday so you get used to throwing in games more. In college I was only getting two or three innings a week, here you can get up to six or seven.

How do you get used to the long bus trips?

Adam Cimber: The Cal League isn’t bad in terms of travel. The longest one we have is San Jose and that is like seven hours. Last year in Eugene we had a few that were nine or ten hours to Boise and Vancouver.

You get used to it. Hit the bus and sleep on the bus. Another thing you have to learn how to do when you go to the pros.

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

Adam Cimber: Pitching wise I have to work on perfecting my off-speed pitches which need to be a little sharper. My slider needs to get better with it’s location and consistency.

How much do you throw in the off-season? You don’t throw until January?

Adam Cimber: That is where it gets a little tricky. They want us to take two or three months off and that will be a big issue for me on how to develop as a pitcher without throwing.

The other thing for me is continue working on my strength and conditioning.

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