Padres' Prospect Interview: Neil Jamison

Neil Jamison would have been a great salesman – he closed the deal with regularity this past season with the Lake Elsinore Storm, the Padres' High-A affiliate.

Do you feel any added pressure when you got into the playoffs, as you did with the Lake Elsinore Storm this year?

Neil Jamison: You have to treat it like it is any other game. You can't put added pressure on yourself. You have to go out there with the same approach and try and do your job.

Coming into the season there was talk that Neil Jamison could be a fast riser through the system. You got an opportunity early in the year after spending just a few games in Fort Wayne and have made the most of it.

Neil Jamison: It was exciting to get up here and get a chance here, being close to home in San Diego. Added on, I moved up and it was a great year.

Personally, when you look back on your year do you consider it a success?

Neil Jamison: Definitely a successful year. I learned a lot of stuff and tried to put myself in a good position headed into next year. I get the chance to go to Hawaii – I consider it a good season.

Talk about the honor of going to Hawaii and going with two of the guys that went to battle with you in Lake Elsinore.

Neil Jamison: Obviously it is business and you have to go out there and try and work on some things – but you are going to Hawaii. I think it will be a good experience – there are four of us going and I think it will be a good experience for all of us.

You mentioned you learned some things this year – what kind of things did you learn?

Neil Jamison: Just general stuff. Obviously out here you have to keep the ball down in the zone. I have known that for a long time but here if you don't keep the ball down you are going to get hurt. It is a big time effort to keep the ball down at all times, especially for me when one pitch can decide the outcome of the game. It is a mental effort every pitch that the ball has to be down.

You don't have traditional "closer" stuff. You have been closing for a while, dating back to college; does it really even matter?

Neil Jamison: I think if you can command your fastball and have a secondary pitch you can get people out with – a put away pitch – than I think you can get outs at the end of the game. Regardless of how hard you throw. If you put the ball where you want more times than not you will be successful. Your room for error is smaller the less velocity you have but if you are hitting your spots – with 82 (MPH) you can get it done. I don't think you have to throw 95.

Looking ahead to the off-season and beyond Hawaii, what is the goal for you moving forward?

Neil Jamison: Honestly, wherever they want to put me. Throwing the seventh, eighth, ninth, it doesn't matter. Just go out there and do your job and go from there.

You mentioned secondary pitches, is there anything specifically that you are working on?

Neil Jamison: I think when I go out to Hawaii and talking to our pitching coach here (Steve Webber), definitely working on a two-seam and a changeup for left-handed hitters. I tend to struggle against lefties and it will give me another weapon or two to get left-handed hitters out.

Now, when you look back on the fact that you have had more troubles against lefties – is it just them seeing the ball better?

Neil Jamison: I think to righties I throw a lot of fastballs away that are coming from behind them with my arm slot and to lefties they can see the ball since it is coming in to them. A slider isn't as effective to a lefty as it is to a righty for me personally since it is breaking into them. I need something with a little bit of tilt and breaking away from them. A two-seam and a changeup will be able to do that and slow them down a bit.

If I remember correctly, there was two months during the year that you were simply lights out. No one could touch you. Then you had a couple of trouble spots – how do you bounce back from that and get back on track?

Neil Jamison: Part of it was breaking down a little bit physically and getting a little tired. Once you do that and have a couple of bad outings in a row it messes with your mind a little bit. Your confidence goes down. Working through it mechanically and at the same time getting myself back to where I was. Mechanically you can work on things and make adjustments whereas the biggest thing is telling myself, ‘You have gotten this done before, let's go. You can do this.'

How difficult is it to keep the mechanics of pitching in line throughout the season?

Neil Jamison: I think the biggest thing is you go through lulls. Being in my first full season I got to a point where it was wearing on me. Your body gets tired and you develop a few bad habits. Small things can make the difference between a ball being up or down. I think that was the biggest thing. You have to work through that period and get it back to where it was before.

Were you surprised at being tired in August – ‘I have never had this happen to me before.'

Neil Jamison: A little bit. You get told by everybody else that it can happen and you kind of lie to yourself, ‘Nah, nah, I am fine. I am fine.' Once it happens you don't realize it till after it happens and then say, ‘Ok, maybe those guys were right.' I guess they were right.


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