Padres' Prospect Interview: John Madden

FORT WAYNE - Relief Pitcher John Madden was the Padres 8th round pick out of Auburn University in the 2005 draft. A 6-foot-3 inch side-winding right-hander, the Padres have high hopes that Madden will be the next in the Padres new line of relief sinkerball specialist.

After a bad junior year, 1-3, 5.31 ERA, he put together a very good final season and moved himself back into prospect status with a 6-2 record and a 1.77 ERA. His most impressive numbers were a BB/K ratio of 19/58.

In his first professional season in Eugene, he again put up good BB/K numbers, 17/55, but was a little too hittable allowing 49 hits in 41 innings pitched.

Madden works off of two pitches, a fastball and slider, with a very good sinking fastball that comes in on the hands of right-handed hitters.

This year he has held right-handed hitters to a .149 batting average and the opposition to a .213 batting average in the ninth inning since becoming the Wizards' closer. His two biggest problems will be improving against left-handed hitters (a .255 average).

So what has the biggest change been for you being moved up to closer with the promotion of Neil Jamison to Lake Elsinore?

John Madden: Not much, still the same game, still the same role, just an inning later.

Is the preparation different the mental aspect with the pressure isn't more?

John Madden: No, just throw strikes and get the guys out without letting them on base. It's always the same game.

How did you evolve into pitching sidearm? Did you always pitch that way or were you just screwing around one day and it felt good?

John Madden: I had always messed around with it a little. When I transferred to Auburn in my junior year the pitching coach there kind of dropped me down to nearly underhanded, and it really didn't work out to well for me.

So my senior year they moved me back to more three-quarters, I put up some numbers and got drafted.

Do you have a quick description of what types of pitches that you throw and what fans should expect when seeing you for the first time?

John Madden: I throw a two-seam fastball that sinks down and in to right-handers and a slider that goes the opposite way. I'm working on learning how to throw a change-up.

What is the toughest thing about learning how to throw a change-up?

John Madden: Keeping the same arm speed as a fastball and getting the right velocity to offset the fastball.

Never having been a pitcher, is it tough to tone down the adrenaline in a big moment in the game when you want to try to throw the ball as hard as you can?

John Madden: Yeah, there are times in the game when you have to make the perfect pitch. You try to act like you're in the bullpen, throw it and hope you executed it.

What was the big difference for you in your preparation in the off-season coming off of your first pro season?

John Madden: Well from college to Eugene was a pretty long season, I figured that out in Eugene. I tried to prepare myself more for a long season this year and think I did pretty well.

What did you do to prepare? We know pitchers run a lot but what did you do to strengthen your arm?

John Madden: Long toss, shoulder work with light weight. Real light weights, lots of repetitions.

When did you begin throwing?

John Madden: I started throwing in January, but that is only because I had a long college year, Eugene and Instructs. Usually I would begin throwing in December.

When you were at Eugene last year is it a bigger advantage for the pitchers because so many guys aren't used to hitting with wooden bats. Did you find it easier to pitch when the hitters favorite weapon, the aluminum bat, was taken away from them?

John Madden: Yeah, I didn't have great numbers but you can definitely tell the difference in the swings with guys from last year to this year as they get used to it.

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