Padres Prospect Interview: Jon Koch

Jon Koch, pronounced ‘cook', was once a Minnesota Twin but found himself in the Independent Leagues – before the San Diego Padres found him. Now he will be back in spring training with a shot at playing in affiliated ball again.

Talk about signing with the Padres and how going to the Independent League helped your game after beginning in the Twins organization.

Jon Koch: It was pretty cool. I was with the Minnesota Twins for a little while and that did not really work out. I think being out in Brockton helped me out pitching-wise. I learned a lot of stuff, especially from Dennis Oil Can Boyd. He was 47-years old and came back after eight years; he had a lot of knowledge and I spent a lot of time with him. He taught me a lot.

Once I went to the tryout, I knew a lot more about pitching and how to handle myself. Still being young at 22, I think it is amazing to get that second chance.

How hard was it going to a tryout camp where 100 guys are and you only have a small amount of time to impress?

Jon Koch: There were a lot of guys so ‘hopefully it works out but I still have an opportunity to go back to Brockton and play.' I just wanted to give me all and hopefully something good would happen. I pitched well my first day and Bill Bryk talked to me a little bit and said ‘If you come back the second day and throw just as well or maybe harder, something might happen.' I came back and threw about two or three miles per hour harder. He said, ‘We are probably going to sign you. Just don't let anyone else know around here.'

It was kind of a shock but I knew that I pitched well.

From the outside, it seems like the Twins really didn't give you much of a chance. Can you elaborate on that and did they give you the chance you deserve?

Jon Koch: Not really. We had a lot of pitchers there so it was kind of hard for people to see you. I got drafted in the summer of 2002 and I went through the summer with the Twins Gulf Coast League. I went through one spring training and I think they brought in 22 or 23 more pitchers. A lot of guys came in and they needed a spot and they had to get rid of guys. They did not get me for that much money so it wasn't as much of a loss.

The Padres have been successful in developing and nurturing Independent League talent. Was that one of the reasons you wanted to come tryout for them?

Jon Koch: That was a big factor. Any guy that gets signed by a major league team – that is the goal to play in the big leagues. It gave me a more of an incentive to work harder this off-season. I think right now I am in the best shape of my life. I think with this new pitching coach I have it is going to be amazing what I can do when March rolls around.

What would you say the competition level is like in Brockton?

Jon Koch: Single-A or Double-A. There are a lot of guys who have played in the big leagues who may have been released or retired and wanted to play another year. There is a lot of guys that have that experience so it was pretty tough.


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