Padres Prospect Interview: Ernesto Frieri

Ernesto Frieri won the ERA Championship last year in the minor leagues but has had some struggles this year. It isn't that he has lost confidence, but according to him he has not had the extra tick on his fastball this year.

Talk about giving up a homer the other day.

Ernesto Frieri: I think I left the ball a little high on the outside corner. That is baseball. It is a hard situation and the hitter was waiting for a fastball and he did a good thing with the pitch.

Last year you were dominant. You had everything working for you. . .

Ernesto Frieri: Yes, last year. We are in this year now. I know I have to do better in a lot of things. I know that I am better. I know that we have a good team. We have passed through some bad moments but we are better than that.

Talk about your pitches and what you consider to be your best pitch.

Ernesto Frieri: My best pitch is my fastball. Usually I throw 91 or 92 or 93 but there are times when I don't feel good. If you throw 90-91 you have to have a good changeup or a good breaking ball. That is no good for this league.

I use my fastball and my changeup more.

What do you need to do to get back to where you were last year when you did so well?

Ernesto Frieri: I have to work smart. I have to work hard. I have to throw my fastball in the strike zone, in the corners, inside, outside, in and out. I have to be better with my control.

Is it a mental thing?

Ernesto Frieri: I think so.

But they did promote you to Lake Elsinore and you got some time up there – that has to show confidence.

Ernesto Frieri: That was a good experience for me because you have to throw strikes early. The hitters there have more patience at the plate. They take good pitches and don't chase bad balls.

What about keeping the walks down. It seems the walk totals have increased since last year.

Ernesto Frieri: That is the most important thing for the pitcher. Keep the ball down. You see what happened with me when I left the ball a little high on the outside corner. When you throw the ball like that to a good hitter, that is what happens – a long hit.

It is also that first pitch strike and not starting behind in the count.

Ernesto Frieri: That is important too. You have to try and work ahead. That is important in baseball for the pitcher. When you work ahead, you are the dominate position in the game.

What is it like working with Kody Valverde?

Ernesto Frieri: I like (Kody). He is a good catcher. He calls a good game.

It is not (Kody). It is myself. He calls the ball out and down in the zone and sometimes we throw there and sometimes we let it a little high.

How has Wally Whitehurst, the pitching coach in Eugene, been able to help you?

Ernesto Frieri: I think he is smart. He knows I am better than that. He knows I can do the job. I need work. He tells me what I am doing bad and I just work at it. The bullpen, when you play catch, running too.

I don't feel ready because I don't feel my fastball. My fastball sits 92, 93 every time. Right now, I throw sometimes 91, 88, 89 average. That is no good for this league. In this league we have a lot of good hitters. I have to work – work hard.

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