Kimberly Contreras

MadFriars Q&A: Padres pitching prospect Jacob Nix

After a long and disappointing saga following the 2014 draft, it took Jacob Nix a while to find his footing in 2015. Now he's ready for a big year in 2016.

MadFriars: As you look back, obviously the 2014-15 year didn't go how you'd have wanted it to, but how much did the IMG program make a difference in how you were ready to come in last summer?

Jacob Nix: Physically, I got my innings in and I was in good shape coming in after the draft. I think mentally, it was the best thing for me and my family. We were getting stir crazy sitting around the house and everyone was asking a bunch of questions that I didn't necessarily have answers to, so it was definitely good for me to get away and get to experience being out on my own for a while.

I put a lot of pressure on myself coming into the year - more than was necessary and more than others were putting on me - so I struggled a bit the first four-to-six weeks I was out here. I struggled pretty good, battled the yips a little bit. I didn't sleep some nights, but I just kept working through it. I started doing meditation and breathing techniques and was able to get through it and finish the season strong.

Was that about feeling you needed to prove that the year before had been a mistake by everyone else?

Nix: Yeah. That situation was obviously really tough on me as a person. It killed my confidence, and not being able to go to UCLA, which was obviously my second choice, was big on me and on my family. And there were so many unanswered questions and nobody knew the answers because it was uncharted territory.

At instructs, seeing you throw on the side, it looked like you felt good about what you were doing in a way it sounds like you didn't when you got here. Was the meditation and breathing something you brought in on your own or did you take it from the team's program?

Nix: Our team mental coach Jason Amoroso helped me a lot with several different techniques for getting the negative stuff out. That's really what it came down to. I mean, for almost a year, I was fueled by anger and bitterness, and it just all imploded.

So, once you knew it was back in your hands to control, what did that mean for you once you left instructs and started your winter program?

Nix: I took two weeks off from working out completely, and then I didn't throw for six or seven weeks. Then I was in the weight room with my trainer, Dave Coggin in Costa Mesa, four days a week, and then usually another day or two on my own. 

Did you participate in the Dominican program as well?

Nix: I was only there for five days, but It's incredible down there to see what those guys have to go get where they are. It's an eye-opening experience.

And then were you part of the Petco Park minicamp program in January as well?

Nix: That was a neat experience. The fact that they only brought 20 or so guys in who they see as leaders in the organization means a lot to me. I take that very seriously, and enjoyed it.

What are you working with in your repertoire at this point?

Nix: I throw a lot of two-seamers, and I'm comfortable throwing it to either side of the plate against any hitter. And I have a spiked curve.

As you start to work against more advanced hitters, are you seeing anything you'll need to do with that pitch to throw it for a called strike?

Nix: Right now, I'm throwing it too often for strikes. I need to work on burying it more in a two-strike count because guys are able to get a piece of it now and battle. I've got to bury it so they don't.

And then in terms of your change, that's more of a feel pitch. How's that working at this point?

Nix: I've been working on it a lot in bullpens and everything. I tweaked my grip a little bit. I was working with a pitching guy who works with my agency who moved my fingers over the center axis of the ball. It's been a good pitch with rotation and arm speed has been feeling really good with it.

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