Padres Prospect Interview: Andy Underwood

Twenty-three players throughout the entire minor leagues have a last name that start with a "U". Only one is in the San Diego Padres' system. Andy Underwood, taken in the fifth round out of Fresno State, only cares about the adding to the five players currently in the majors that possess a "U".

You are a former basketball player. Is that still a passion of yours?

Andy Underwood: I like it a lot. That is probably the one thing I did miss about high school. I played with a lot of great players and it was fun.

We have moved onto the baseball since and divulged into the game as a pitcher – talk about first being picked by the San Diego Padres and then what your expectations are.

Andy Underwood: Once the draft was over I was relieved that all the scouts and that stuff were done with. I was really excited about being drafted by the Padres and being close to my house. Now, it is a lot of hard work to get to the top.

How does a guy like Wally Whitehurst, a former major league pitcher, help you?

Andy Underwood: He has done a lot in trying to get my changeup better. He keeps you focused and always has you in line to keep doing what youa re supposed to be doing. He keeps in you check.

Bob Cluck comes along and everyone who comes to Eugene, as far as the rovers, have a wealth of knowledge. Is there anything specific they can add to your game?

Andy Underwood: I haven't had a chance to talk to him one-on-one but from what I have talked to the group about he and everyone else has a lot of good information.

What kind of information can they give you that you don't know from college or the early time here?

Andy Underwood: Just a lot of information about what goes on in major league baseball and what goes on through the minors, what to expect, and things like that.

You were originally a draft-and follow by the Kansas City Royals. What made you decide to go back into the draft?

Andy Underwood: I didn't think they wanted me enough. I didn't think they showed enough interest. It was a good opportunity for me to get another year of schooling in and I was going into a good program with Bobby Jones, a ten-year big league pitcher.

What made the San Diego Padres such a good choice for you?

Andy Underwood: Just being on the west coast and my family being able to come see me play. That is important to me. They are a good organization to be in. A lot of their pitchers in the bigs are from the minors and there will continue to be changes.

What kind of pitches do you throw and at what speeds?

Andy Underwood: I have the two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, circle changeup and curveball. Out in college my velocity was anywhere between 88 to 91. I have thrown a ton of innings, close to 200, so my velocity has gone down a lot. I have taken a few more days rest.

Talk about the evolution of your changeup given the Padres insistence on throwing it for strikes.

Andy Underwood: I have had a good changeup – as of lately I have lost a little bit of the feel. Maybe because of the innings and my arm is tired a little bit. Every day I need to keep on working with it and keeping it down in the zone.

You have always been a command type pitcher who pounds the strike zone and gets that first strike. You come into an organization that stresses no wasted pitches and three or less for an out. Is there a comfort level of coming in and knowing what is being preached is something you already do on a regular basis?

Andy Underwood: Exactly. Grady (Fuson) was in earlier and said you command the fastball but if you can throw the fastball and changeup for strikes that is an automatic ticket to Double-A. When I am fresh and healthy, I think that is what I have.

You have been really tough on left-handed hitters this year. Is there anything you differently to keep them at bay?

Andy Underwood: I don't know what it is but I have always been better against lefties. I really don't know what it is but I have always owned lefties. I have a lot more confidence in throwing my curveball to lefties and I can start it on the outside of the plate and make it come in whereas if you throw it to a righty and leave it out you hit him. I think the ball comes down and in on them tight but I really don't have a good answer on that.

How do you work on getting it so the right-handed hitters have the same troubles as the lefties?

Andy Underwood: It is something I have to work with day-by-day, working with Wally and making myself better.

They always say that the first year in professional ball is a throw-away year because they know you are tired coming off a long season. With that in mind, what are your expectations for next year.

Andy Underwood: This offseason is going to be big for me because I am going to try and put on twenty pounds, get my arm back in shape and hopefully next year I come in and dominate.

Were you heavier when you started the season and is that what you have lost along the way?

Andy Underwood: The heaviest I have been is about 210-212. Right now I am down to 195. My goal is to be between 210-220. I think that is going to help me out in being stronger and throwing harder. This offseason is going to be huge for me.

The hardest thing is to get good food and get enough meals with the time we are on. Getting your sleep, going to bed early – the little things add up.

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