Padres Prospect Interview: Brandon Higelin

FORT WAYNE- Every year someone emerges out of the lower minors after a so-so professional debut. This year's diamond in the rough is Wizards' middle relief pitcher Brandon Higelin.            

Higelin was a 28th round draft pick of Cal-State-Los Angeles in the 2005 draft. What does it mean to be a 28th round pick when you're a college senior? It means no big money bonus, a fight for a roster spot and every year you better show something or your gone.

Last year Higelin, 23, posted some good BB/K (11/21), but was a little too hittable with a 5.00 ERA and 40 hits in 27.1 innings.

This year Higelin has turned it around in the Midwest League. In the rather anonymous role as a middle relief pitcher, Higelin has done what the rather unappreciated role of a middle relief pitcher is supposed to do, shut down the opposition and limit any potential damage that he inherits.

This year the two statistics that stand out the most with Higelin is hits to innings pitched ratio (32/40.1) and his strikeout to base-on-balls ratio (39/12).

It must be a big thrill for you making the Midwest League All-Star team. Did it come as a shock to you being a middle relief pitcher finally getting some recognition?

Brandon Higelin: Yeah, it was a little different. Most middle relief guys don't get that type of recognition. There have been a lot of closers putting up some good numbers in this league, so it was a big honor.

True, but you have been putting up some pretty good numbers.

Brandon Higelin: The big thing is my innings and strikeouts are pretty good. I haven't given up a lot of hits, so it was nice the managers in this league recognized the kind of work that I have done this year.

Can you go over a little of your background and what you throw?

Brandon Higelin: I am from Oxnard, California and then I went to Cal State-LA. I throw a two-seam and four-seam fastball, a change-up and a slider. The slider is my "out pitch" to lefties and the change-up is more my "out pitch" to righties.

Last year your statistics in Eugene were kind of average, this year you have picked it up quite a bit. What has been the biggest change?

Brandon Higelin: I credit a lot of it to the pitching coach my scout hooked me up with, his name is Dominic Johnson. He worked with me on my mechanics and really worked with me on my two-seam fastball. So when I do something wrong I can fix it right away now.

Do you still stay in touch with him?

Brandon Higelin: Yeah, I give him a call after each outing and we talk about it. He really helped me out a lot and I'm going to go back and see him next off-season.

Could you go over the difference between a two-seamer and four-seamer fastball?

Brandon Higelin: The two seamer I throw to righties because it kind of goes away from them, its more like a change-up, which induces a lot of groundballs this year which I didn‘t have before. The four seamer is a little straighter with more speed.

What do you need to do to keep moving up the ladder?

Brandon Higelin: The big thing is gaining a little more velocity. I would like to get it up around the upper 80's if I can do that I can keep moving up the ladder.

How do you gain velocity?

Brandon Higelin: A lot of it is just keep working on my mechanics. Right now they are a little off and I think when I go back and work with Dominic again I'll regain them and get them back to where they need to be.

So increasing velocity is more about just refining your mechanics?

Brandon Higelin: A lot of it is just about staying behind your back leg and not wasting motion. If you do that you're able to create more velocity.

Contact senior writer John Conniff at

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