Scouting Padres Prospect Ryan Klatt

Confidence is a tricky word, especially in pitching circles. It has everything to do with success and is the hardest thing to attain. Add in a sprinkle of injury and confidence becomes a foreign object – one that must be re-learned. It isn't like riding a bike. You fall down. You pick yourself up. You hope for better days. Ryan Klatt experienced all the downs.

Vital Statistics;
Name: Ryan Klatt
Position: RHP
DOB: September 30, 1981
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Now, he has finally remerged and has seen the happier days of recovery.

During the 2005 season, Klatt, an emotional right-hander, would be the first to get a crack at kicking the water cooler. When things didn't go his way he would lose his cool and it would show. He has always been an amped individual and learning patience – patience with his injury, his return to form – came hard.

It took the Texas native an off-season to consider what it all meant. Had he come back from Tommy John surgery too soon – returning after ten months? Would he regain his pre-injury form? Did he have the mindset to accomplish his goals?

What he realized is he actually was becoming a better "pitcher" as a result of the surgery. He finally grasped it – he had bad days before the injury. It wasn't the end of the world.

He refocused his energy into his mechanics and found with more consistent extension his slider began to have the tilt he desired and the split-fingered fastball he developed became a go-to pitch.

The subtle feelings between his arm, body, and control of his pitches was no longer a mystery but something he could sense and fix when they were out of sorts.

"I have had Ryan parts of the last two years," pitching coach Steve Webber began. "He is a guy that is always trying to make subtle little improvements. The biggest improvement he has made is come up with a split-fingered fastball that is very good. It has good late depth to it and has really helped him as a put away pitch, especially against left-handers. We discussed last year that I would like to see him use it but he has gone the extra mile with tinkering with it and getting it right. Again, it is not by accident. He has worked hard on our flat ground program to come up with a grip and it works. That was one of the things he needed to do to progress and improve."

Klatt always sets up from the stretch, hanging his pitching arm down to the point it appears his knuckles can scrape the ground. His split-fingered fastball, sitting 88-91 MPH, remains his bread and butter, especially when he can place it low and away. Klatt will fall in love with the pitch a little too much at times and gets in trouble when it floats towards the middle of the plate. His success at hitting the outer half of the plate was particularly prevalent against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .216 average.

With just 17 games under his belt at High-A entering the year, Klatt debuted in Lake Elsinore and went on to post a 6-6 record with three saves and a 3.02 ERA. Considering the lowest team ERA in the league sat at 3.85, Klatt's season was a success. He led the Padres' minor league system in holds with 23 and allowed an earned run in just four of his final 37 appearances with the Storm.

Klatt did have two unsuccessful trips to Double-A Mobile where he let the pressure of his performance build. He pressed, becoming inconsistent in his mechanics and being wild up in the zone.

Klatt is a control pitcher who sets up his hitters well but could use work on his changeup, a pitch that is rarely used because of inconsistency. The changeup would be a solid pitch for right-handed bats that often get good wood on the fastball he tries to paint outside. Conversely, left-handed hitters have a tough time with his outside fastball and are slew-footed when he brings the slider down on their back foot.

"I am real happy for him," said Webber. "I think he is the kind of guy that it wouldn't surprise me if he made it. He is that kind of guy who is going to rise to the occasion. He is going to figure out a way to do it."

He has his closer's mentality back and that allows him to forget about a bad outing and refocus on the good, something missing from his game in 2005.

"I am ready to be challenged," Klatt said. "I have shown I can perform (in Lake Elsinore) and am ready for Double-A."

ETA: Klatt still needs to relax. He will be in Double-A to begin the year and he can't afford to put undo pressure on himself. He is intense and that has to be settled each and every time he takes the mound. If he can continue to keep his emotions in check, late in 2008 would prove cooler heads prevail.

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