Matt Buschmannn ready for round two

When you are a 15th round pick, the expectations aren't necessarily high. Matt Buschmann had his own goals, however, and delivered in a big way in his debut season in the Padres' system.

Let's start with the season in Eugene – it was a great year for you out there. What was the reason for the success out there?

Matt Buschmann: I think honestly, and I told this to a couple of my buddies, that when you go from college where everything is kind of sheltered and the coaches are kind of hands on and you go to professional baseball you kind of realize that you know a lot about the game. You just never had to use it because coaches were calling pitches for you and all the moves are very hands on. At pro ball you are on your own and have to use the knowledge. I think the fact that it wasn't as pressurized – putting everything to use that I learned – I think it was good for me.

There was one stretch of games in July that you had roughly 25 innings of scoreless ball. Was there something working well for you that had you feeling so good?

Matt Buschmann: I think I was comfortable with the mechanics I had and was repeating them. When I went out for bullpens it was real easy. I think the biggest thing was being able to command the fastball and being able to throw it on both sides of the plate. When I had that everything else kind of fell into place. I felt like I could throw my changeup whenever I wanted. In college, my slider was inconsistent. This year, I found that I could throw it for a strike and bury it when there were two strikes. Mainly, the command of the fastball and then the off-speed fell in behind it and gave me the option to feel confident.

At the same time when we first talked right after the draft, you have always prided yourself on the fact that you don't walk a lot of guys – was it that big a difference?

Matt Buschmann: I think in college so often with metal bats we would try and hit perfect spots whereas I finally just needed to be in the strike zone with wood bats, especially some of these players who haven't used wood bats coming out of college. The biggest thing was throwing strikes and I felt like sometimes when pitches aren't going well you feel like you throw a strike and it is going to get hit. I felt like whatever I threw they would foul off or they wouldn't get good wood on it. Being able to throw strikes and having the good slider to strike them out. That was the other thing too. I felt like when I had them in two strikes my slider was going to strike them out.

Was the same case true with left-handed hitters? You were actually better against lefties than righties – was there a certain way you approaches them?

Matt Buschmann: That was weird. I was talking to my pitching coach the other day and I was wrapping that slider around to the lefties back leg all the time. I had confidence in it. When I threw it before I felt like I would hit them. They swung over it all the time. That was a big pitch.

At the end of the year you went up to Lake Elsinore for the playoff run. Talk about the honor of skipping a level along the way.

Matt Buschmann: It was kind of funny because I was sitting there talking to David Freese and I had seen that they had traded Evan Meek and I said that would be pretty cool if they moved someone up from Fort Wayne and I got to go up and play ball with him since I played with him in high school. Grady said I would be going to Lake Elsinore. It was a surprise but I was happy. It was one of those challenges – I knew they were in a playoff race so I was excited.

Your first outing you go seven-plus and allow two runs. Did you think right then you proved you belonged at the higher level?

Matt Buschmann: Honestly, I didn't know really what to expect. When you go up a level you are never totally sure you should be there. That first inning – if they ate every pitch I throw than maybe I am not ready. After the game, I felt you could tell there was a difference in these hitters from Eugene but I felt going through it, mentally, that I was capable of going against these hitters and learning from each at bat they had.

The season ends and a couple of days later you went to Instructs. Was there something specific that you were asked to work on out there?

Matt Buschmann: I think the biggest thing was my release point. As I went through the season, since my arm slot is a little bit lower than normal, I guess, a lot of times late in games I would drop my elbow a lot and get up under pitches and my fastball and changeup would be up in the zone. The biggest thing was working on that and consistently staying on top of pitches so that I didn't get lazy and push the ball.

Obviously you worked with Wally Whitehurst in Eugene and Steve Webber out in Lake Elsinore, who has been the biggest help for you during this season of learning?

Matt Buschmann: The biggest one was Wally. I was with him in Eugene and we built a relationship for the month that I was there. He kind of knows me the best. We talked a lot and I love picking his brain because he was in the big leagues. I was asking questions and he was ready and willing to answer them.

In Instructs, 11.2 percent of your pitches were changeups. Is that enough?

Matt Buschmann: Probably not. I felt comfortable with my changeup. When I went to Instructs, apart from working on staying on top, I was working on my two-seam a lot. So, I was trying to get hitters to roll over on it and since I felt comfortable with the changeup I was working on that two-seamer more.

What is the rest of the off-season like for you.

Matt Buschmann: I went home to Kansas City for a while to relax – I hadn't been home in a while. I moved back and am working out and getting ready for next season.


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