A native of Amarillo, Texas, Wieck was headed to pitch for the University of New Mexico before an arm injury sidetracked him. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March, 2011, wound up appearing at a pair of JuCos, and ultimately landed at Oklahoma City University, where he all NAIA pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings to get the Mets’ attention in last summer’s draft.
We talked with Wieck after a recent game in Lake Elsinore, the team to which he was assigned in July.
MadFriars: Did you have any indication before the deal was announced that you were part of the Torres trade?
Brad Wieck: My parents called me five days before I actually got traded. I threw a game in Savannah and threw the ball well that night. And my parents called and asked ‘Hey, have the Padres talked to you at all?’ And I asked why and they said because we see that was your last time to throw in a Mets uniform. It caught me off-guard, but it’s all about getting your opportunities and doing the best that you’re capable of in those opportunities. I’m glad to be here. The Mets treated me well, but the Padres have treated me equally well, and it’s really good to be here.
MadFriars: With the move to the new organization, have you had a chance to work with any of the roving instructors and coordinators yet?
Brad Wieck: Mark [Prior] was here a week ago and watched me throw a bullpen and he was there for my last start, so that was good for him to be there. I think Sam was also here at my last start – but Sam also watched me throw a bad one against, it might have been the Angels’ High-A affiliate. But, my last start was good. I really needed to have a good start here. The Cal League is a big hitters’ league, and so far I’ve kind of been struggling, but my last outing was good, so hopefully that’s my turning point. Hopefully I can finish up strong through, I think I have six starts left.
MadFriars: Has the Padres organization had any different focus or approach they’ve asked you to take since you arrived?
Brad Wieck: In the Mets system, they told me I had the best breaking ball in camp when I got to spring training. And so far that I’ve been here, they told me my best is my change-up. Maybe I’ve got the best of both worlds, who knows. But I’m just going to keep throwing each pitch with as much conviction as I can. If I keep throwing the ball like it did the last start, I’ll be in alright shape.
MadFriars: What’s it been like working with coaches who you watched on the biggest stage as a kid?
Brad Wieck: It’s been pretty cool to have Mark. He definitely knows what he’s doing on a baseball mound, so it’s good to have somebody with that experience to help me. On the other hand, it’s really good to have [Storm pitching coach Glendon Rusch], who’s a lefty. It’s nice to have a guy to show you what’s going on and what you’re doing. Us lefties have a different mindset about pitching, so it’s good to hear from both sides.
MadFriars: Where do you work with your fastball?
Brad Wieck: Now that I’m in a five-man rotation, I can get it up to like 93. I work good off of my change-up, and I’ve been throwing a lot of changeups lately. My change will make my fastball look mid-90s instead of high-80s or low-90s.
MadFriars: I’d imagine that your size and delivery help in that regard too?
Brad Wieck: It’s not every day batters get to see a lefty as big as I am, so that helps me a lot, absolutely.
MadFriars: The flip-side of that size is that it’s almost taken as gospel in the game that a guy as big as you will take a while to find repreatability with your mechanics. Is that an issue for you?
Brad Wieck: I’m definitely working on it. Mark was telling me some pointers on how I can smooth my delivery out a little bit and not be so complicated with things. Just shortening everything up and being as consistent as I can through my delivery and that will help me on the other end where the catcher’s actually catching the ball. I’m 23 and I feel like I definitely have room to learn, but once I do start figuring things out and get things clicking, I feel like I can be pretty good.
MadFriars: Is that a matter of tempo and timing for you, or is there a specific piece that helps you find that consistency?
Brad Wieck: It’s just repeating everything in your motion. My landing foot is what I’m working on right now. If I can land in the exact same spot through every pitch, that’s going to help me out a lot. But it’s keeping everything as simple as possible. Good pitchers are simple.
MadFriars: Now that you’re in the dog days of your first full season, are you feeling it?
Brad Wieck: This is my first full season and it’s definitely a grind. But I came from Savannah where it was 95 with 100 percent humidity, so… It gets pretty hot here, but I kinda like pitching in the heat. It’s much easier to stay loose. I just have to stay healthy and finish up strong.
MadFriars: So what does the offseason hold for you to try to build on what you’ve done so far?
Brad Wieck: I’ll probably go home and give lessons to kids to earn a little money. Mark mentioned [instructs] but didn’t give me a for sure yes or no. I would imagine that I’d go, but probably not pitch. I’m new to the organization, so I’d like to go. I haven’t met everybody yet and I’ve only been here a month and a half, so it would be nice to get down to Arizona and hang out with everybody and get to know everybody. I feel like that would be beneficial to me, but I doubt that I would throw out there since I’ve started this whole season.
MadFriars: You’re a lefty, so by baseball convention, you’re supposed to be quirky. Do you have any superstitions you stick to?
Brad Wieck: I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of a normal guy for a lefty. Not too much superstition. I do like to wear my pants down at home and up away, but that’s about the only thing I can think of.