Padres' Fuson sets his plan in motion

Grady Fuson has a good handle on the system. It is not at a point he wants certainly but his mantra and ideals are being set in motion.

It all starts with the changeup.

"Look at Jake Peavy," Fuson began. "He always had a good fastball but when that changeup came his game went to the next level."

It is an organizational philosophy that he wants to change (no pun intended). Most players coming from high school and college were able to get by on the fastball and altering its location within the zone. The occasional slider or curve would then be tossed in.

But a third pitch, the changeup, is what separates good and great. And Fuson wants it to be the first item on the docket to be taught to all pitchers who enter the system.

As he explained, the changeup will make every pitcher in the system better and a dominating changeup can be the difference in a career Minor Leaguer and one who makes the jump to the Big Leagues.

By design, the changeup is thrown with the same motion and appearance as the fastball, creating the illusion that often fools a hitter.

"It is the most important pitch in baseball," Fuson said. "That along with a first pitch strike."

When people see Cesar Carrillo on the Instructional League roster, they wonder what is wrong?

"He will come in late to work solely on the changeup," added Fuson.

And if the Padres first round pick is working on the changeup, it is safe to say everyone else will be doing the same.

The Yankees farm system has taken a similar tactic in the last year. They take away an incoming pitchers best pitch not named a fastball if they can't throw the changeup. In other words, if a pitcher enters the organization with a plus slider they remove that from his arsenal until the changeup is just as good.

The Padres haven't gone to that extreme but they do want to see improvement throughout the organization, particularly with the pitching staff.

In the batter's box they are increasing the stress on plate discipline. The draft bared that out when they selected players who have shown a history of taking pitches and being selective.

That requires changing a mentality developed over years of habitual swinging at bad pitches – and it is not as easy as it sounds to train the mind to lay off the junk.

For Fuson, he will continue to evaluate while implementing his own changes.

"Consistency through the organization," Fuson stressed.

And the hope is that will bring the Padres minor leagues back to prominence.


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