Padres' Prospect Interview: Brooks Dunn

His name really is Brooks Dunn but there is no dash or and sign betwixt the two. He is a left-handed pitcher in the San Diego Padres farm system and while he has struggled to get run support he has had an impressive season with the Eugene Emeralds.

Talk about throwing first pitch strikes, something you have done a lot of over the last few weeks.

Brooks Dunn: Lately, it has been better for me. In the beginning of the year I struggled getting ahead of hitters. I have had good stuff working with my changeup working well.

Talk about not allowing a run over a good stretch in early to mid-July.

Brooks Dunn: I am not really a numbers guy but I needed something to make it look better. I want my family to think I am not doing too terrible. I am doing well. This transition to pro ball has been big for me. I am starting to catch my second wind. I threw a lot of innings in college but I hear stories from guys like LeBlanc and Underwood, guys that threw a lot more innings in than me and I wonder, ‘how are you still standing?' I am catching my second wind and getting used to the ball and the seams.

Your old coach at Mississippi State said your slider is a pitch that is progressing. What is your take on that?

Brooks Dunn: In college, when I would get ahead of hitters that was my best pitch. I am more working on my changeup now, spotting that up and using it more than I usually do. I think my slider is always going to be there for me. The Padres have me focused on getting ahead and using that changeup so that is what I am focusing on now. To me, that slider will be there whenever I need it.

You were the opening day starter and got a chance to set the tone for the whole season. Was that an honor for you?

Brooks Dunn: That was an honor. I didn't know if I was going to be in relief or starting or whatever. They let me have the ball the first day and I was really pleased, especially with the great group of guys we had.

How tough has it been going from starter back to relief back to starter?

Brooks Dunn: It really hasn't been that bad. They give you a fresh inning. It would be different if you had to come in with runners on base. It is not that big a deal. You have to face it like it is a 0-0 game when you get in there. You don't want to let the other team score and let the defense work behind him.

While we are in season and this is tougher to answer without preparing for ‘pro ball only' just yet, but how do you weight strength versus stamina as a pitcher who has to prepare for a full season of games in the coming year and not be tired in August?

Brooks Dunn: We worked hard at Mississippi State in the offseason so I am going to carry that over moving forward. They have a great conditioning program and I think they don't put too much on us and let us play because they know our bodies are real worn down. They give us a light load to keep us in shape.

Is the hope to be in Mobile pitching for the BayBears soon?

Brooks Dunn: That would be great. I actually lived in Daphne, which was right across the bay for 13 years. It would be nice. I grew up watching the BayBears. That is always a hope.

I played against Peavy in high school. He played for a rival high school. He was older than me but my team played against him.

You worked in the 85-87 MPH range with your fastball, what are the speeds of your slider and changeup?

Brooks Dunn: My slider is usually in the high 70's. The changeup I try to keep it in the mid to low 70's to give it some range (between fastball and change). I am just a mid to upper eighties guy. Location. I am a professional pitcher and these guys are professional hitters. You just have to make your pitch and see what happens.

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