Padres Prospect Interview: Travis Chick

We caught up with Travis Chick, arguably a pitcher with even more upside than any player in the Padres' system, last week. Chick, who just recently turned 21, is one of the youngest players in the Southern League, throws in the low-to-mid 90's and we spoke with him after one of his most recent performances when he threw a one-hitter.

John Conniff: When you pitched in the Marlins organization last year you put up some good numbers, but when you came over to the Padres organization at Fort Wayne you really seemed to take off. What was the big change?

Travis Chick: I think a lot of it has to do with command. I wasn't really happy with the Marlins organization. When I got over here my teammates and coaches were great. I really got comfortable with things that were going on, we were in the playoff hunt, I had a good team behind me, all those things helped me put everything together.

John Conniff: The Marlins have a reputation as being a really good organization at developing young talent. What part were you unhappy with their organization as compared to San Diego?

Travis Chick: They had me on the backburner, didn't give me the time of day as far as coming into the rotation. I had a half decent year my second year, a lot of my problems in that year had to do with a back injury. The scouting coordinator for the Marlins, Mark Delbiano had it out for me. He just didn't like me. The pitching coordinator [for the Padres] told me the other day that if he hadn't been there, things would have been a lot different for me. Different organizations have their different guys, and the Marlins just didn't seem to like me.

John Conniff: The Padres skipped you from the Midwest League to the Southern League. Various publications have made a big thing out of how young you are [Travis just turned 21 on June 10]. Did the Padres give you an idea at the end of last year that you had a chance to be in AA coming into the year?

Travis Chick: The last day of the season the coaches said that my goal coming into next year should be to make AA. That should really be everybody's goal, to go up higher than they think you will be next year. I worked real hard in the off season, got invited to big league camp, played well in spring training, and I made the team.

John Conniff: When you talk that you worked real hard in the off season, what type of workouts were you doing?

Travis Chick: I'm in the gym six days a week and throwing on the side. I started throwing about the first, second week of January. I was kind of rushed into it a little early because the big league camp starts a little early. As far as running goes, I did a lot more sprints this off season to build up more explosive movement, to get my body ready for the pitch.

John Conniff: In the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, along with, you were ranked as the top Padres overall pitching prospect. How has that changed things for you this year, especially as compared to last year when the Marlins had you on the back burner.

Travis Chick: Basically the only thing that has changed for me baseball wise is that they are giving me every opportunity to succeed. I'm getting baseball card deals, getting invited to big league camp, which is nice. I can't go out there thinking I'm the top prospect. I have to go out there and get outs. The hitters don't care what anyone thinks of me.

If I have a bad year this year, I'm not going to be the top prospect next year. It is all about producing. I think I'm really starting to learn how to pitch to hitters and things are starting to turn around.

John Conniff: You have picked up in your last few starts, Sunday night you threw a one-hitter. What has been the biggest reason for your improvement?

Travis Chick: I can't really put that out there because then they would know my secrets (laughing). My command is getting better, my slider is starting to work again. For awhile my slider was doing nothing. The other night I had a dream about how I used to throw it, and it just came back. Maybe it woke up.

I'm not complaining. Its just a matter of learning the hitters, skipping a level I kind of missed out. The Padres were expecting to me to take my lumps, but now things are starting to turn around.

John Conniff: The Padres have focused on college players, what was the big decision for you to start your pro career rather than go to college?

Travis Chick: I'm scared of injury, you never know when it will be your time. I had an opportunity to play pro ball. I didn't think I would make my money when I signed, I wanted to make my money in the big leagues. The people that think they have to wait out to go to college through the pros aren't really sure if they are going to make it. I thought when I signed I'm going to make the major leagues, if I wasn't sure I was going to make the majors I wouldn't have signed.

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