Padres Draft and Follow: Joe Cates Interview

After a brief hiatus for the Top Twenty, we continue our draft and follow series with Palomar right-handed pitcher Joe Cates. Cates, 20, out of Hemet High School in California [located northeast of San Diego in Riverside County] is in his second year with the Palomar College Comets after being selected in the 30th round of the 2006 draft by the Padres.

Cates lost a good portion of last year to an arm injury, but appears to have regained his full strength this year. He is not the type of pitcher that is going to light up a radar gun but he does have a plus curveball to go along with a quality changeup. Currently his record is 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA, with 11 strikeouts in 13 innings against 12 hits and five walks. Batters have hit .245 against him in the Pacific Coast Conference, one of the better junior college leagues in the country.

First, what is your height and weight?

Joe Cates: I'm 6'2", 200 lbs.

Were you selected out of high school?

Joe Cates: No [laughing], there are not a whole lot of scouts coming up to Hemet.

How did you end up at Palomar?

Joe Cates: One of my buddies went out here. I came out for a visit and liked the area; the campus and the coaches were really good. It seemed like the best place for me.

Could you give us an idea of what you throw?

Joe Cates: My fastball is around 88-91 it works more off of location. I have a 1-7 curve that is probably my best pitch and a change around 78-80. The big part of my game is knowing where I'm putting the ball.

Are you more comfortable as a starter or relief pitcher?

Joe Cates: I've been a starter most of my life so that is probably what I prefer, but I can come in a reliever too. Really any opportunity to pitch I'll take it.

You got injured towards the end of last year; can you give us an idea of what it was and how you are coming along?

Joe Cates: I had a bone spur in my right shoulder that inflamed one of my tendons so I took some time off. I went to the specialist and they gave me a stretching routine that involves building up the muscle around the joint.

How do you do that?

Joe Cates: It's not that hard only around 10 minutes a day, but it's doing some real small rotations with medical bands to keep the muscles from rubbing against each other.

So what is the reason that you have suddenly come up on the map after not getting much attention in high school?

Joe Cates: Just hard work, another day to get better.

Could you go over your contact with the Padres both before and after the 2006 draft?

Joe Cates: They came and saw me throw one game and spoke with me a few times afterwards. I got a call from one of their scouts, Brendan Haas, who let me know they were going to pick me if they got a chance. They chose me in the 30th round, which I really didn't expect to happen and it was great.

What were the negotiations like?

Joe Cates: Well, I was coming off of an injury so they really wanted to see if my arm was fine and how I would develop. If everything goes according to schedule then they are going to try to sign me before the draft this year.

So, right now are you leaning more toward going to a four-year school or to the pros?

Joe Cates: I want to play baseball. It's been my dream ever since I started at 8, to play in the major leagues. Also I really like the resources that major league clubs have to take care of pitchers as compared to college, so I think that would be the best for my career to go when I get the opportunity.

So, you are leaning towards signing with the Padres?

Joe Cates: If it's any type of reasonable offer, then I'm going to go. I've got the rest of my life to do something else; you only have so many opportunities to try to pitch in the major leagues.

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