If you talk to many of the pitchers in the system, Patrick has always been one of the better coaches to pitch for because of natural rapport with the players.
This year may have been one of his best jobs yet as he kept one of the Padres’ top prospects, Zach Eflin on his path to success, and helped to make significant improvements in Colin Rea and Elliot Morris and really helped the careers of Adam Cimber and Brandon Alger out of the pen.
We caught up with Bronswell near the end of the year to get his thoughts on these five players.
Morris talked about how you made a few changes that helped him out quite a bit. What did you do?
Bronswell Patrick: I put a little pause in his delivery. Before we got him he was kind of rushing through it and it gave him a chance to let everything else catch up. It got his arm into a better slot. He was able to take it into a game and have success with it.
When you get a pitcher in midseason how long does it take you to start to want to change something? How do you know when to do that?
Bronswell Patrick: I gave him a few starts and let him get his feet wet. There are some things that I saw that I believed would make him better. So I went up to Elliot and told him what I saw and we worked on it during a side session. He was able to take it into a game and had success with it.
But to answer your question, I like them to have a few starts under their belt before I start trying to make changes.
When you see a pitcher that is having success at the A-ball level, but maybe you see something in his delivery or something else that will not work at the major league level how do you approach a player to change even though he is having success?
Bronswell Patrick: To me it has to start with building a relationship with the pitchers on your staff so you have that type of open communication. I try to tell them what I see that it will work here but not where they want to go.
For example, when I do side sessions I try to incorporate what they would throw in a certain count. I will say, “this is an 0-0 fastball, I want you to put it low and outside.”
“Here is an 0-2 count, slider off of the plate.”
I want them to get the visual of what they are trying to do before the game, so when it happens in a game it doesn’t sneak up on them. You want the side sessions to help them as much as possible.
Our bullpen sessions are about more than just throwing 30 pitches. Each guy you have to individually tailor them. It is a lot of mental work as well as physical.
What did you do with Colin that really picked him up?
Bronswell Patrick: The thing about Colin, and this is what I heard from some of my scout friends, was that they didn’t see the toughness that they have from him in past that they saw this year.
We talked about having a different demeanor out on the mound. If you give up one or two hits, don’t just drop your head. Don’t let them see that you didn’t execute your pitch. I spoke with him much more about the mental aspects of the game than his mechanics.
I told him he had to be more hungry and not be so passive. If you hit a guy, you hit a guy. You didn’t try to do it on purpose. Move on to the next batter, don’t get intimidated by the hitters. You intimidate the hitters.
He has really taken that to heart this year as far as being more aggressive about pitching inside as compared to last year when he didn’t like to do that. I always tell him, and this is especially true against right-handed batters that you have to establish the inside so you can get to the outside corner.
You don’t want the batter leaning over the dish. He’s hit some guys because he has thrown inside and because he is throwing to both sides of the plate he has become so much better.
Eflin never has great peripheral numbers, and he even though gives up a decent amount of hits, but at the end of the day he always has a low ERA and a lot of innings. How does he do that?
Bronswell Patrick: One, he is a strike thrower. He has good movement on his two-seamer and he keeps the ball down in the zone to go along with a good slider. His change-up has also been good throughout this year too.
You look up and see his numbers and he is putting together good statistics. He just goes out and pitches and really likes to compete.
He’s just a kid at twenty but is very advanced for his age but he has a really good idea of what he needs to do. When he needs a groundball or when he needs to reach back in the tank and turn it up, he can do it to get the strikeout.
That 92 can turn into a 97 really quick.
Tell us a little about Adam’s year.
He’s pitched really well for us and he’s going to have success as he moves up. 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.
Any time you see a sidewinder in A-ball many scouts claim that it won’t be as effective as hitters become more advanced and are able to adapt to the different location that the ball is coming from.
Do you see that with Adam?
Bronswell Patrick: He’s the type of guy that can go through an order one time higher up and you can have success up there doing that. If you have a bunch of righties coming up, he is my guy.
I think he can have success going forward against lefties, particularly if his change develops. You never want to say never with a guy like that because so many times they improve and right now, he’s putting up some good numbers.
Last year you moved him to the pen and he’s had much more success why?
Bronswell Patrick: I see a more confident pitcher and my scout friends also agreed. He’s more aggressive in the strike zone, his fastball command has gotten better, his secondary pitches have gotten better. He has a good cutter for righties.
He has been very consistent and is is another guy that has a chance at the next level. His confidence is better and he’s more more than just a lefty specialist because he is someone that can get righties out too.
But you know there is always a place for a good left-hander coming out of the pen [laughs].