Padres Prospect Interview: Jon Link

Jon Link has seen the good side of up and the bad side of down during his time in the San Diego Padres farm system. This year, he has elevated his game and up is the only thing he knows. Things weren't always that way.

Last year, despite being among the league leaders in appearances in the Midwest League, Jon Link had to take a brief respite for perceived attitude problems. He was suspended from the team for a week in the middle of August – at a time when he was struggling.

He ended the year going 5-5 with three saves and a 4.91 ERA for the Fort Wayne Wizards. The opposition hit .283 off him but managed a .340 average during the final two months of the season.

This year, his slate was clean and he has blossomed in the California League. After beginning the year in a setup role, Link was given the closer's job when John Madden was sent to extended spring.

Through two June appearances, Link has gone 13 straight outings without allowing a run and has saved four games in as many opportunities. In 22 innings he has allowed just 11 hits.

Things are going well.

Did the expectations change for you coming into the year after being suspended for a week last year and were you on eggshells this spring as a result?

Jon Link: It doesn't change anything. I saw a good commercial the other day with Alex Rodriguez. Every season starts over. I am coming in to this – a clean slate. I came out to make a team. Nothing changes. Still have to prepare, still have to train, still have to work hard. The preparation stays the same. I was trying to make a team like the rest of those guys.

You were second in the league in appearances last year despite the week away. How did your off-season change as a result?

Jon Link: Definitely a lot more rest and a lot more golf during the off-season. I got a lot of rest. I don't think I picked up a baseball till January. It was a lot of time off with the arm but still weight training and conditioning and things like that.

Very little baseball until the first of the year and then back to the regular long toss program, the bullpens, the short toss and getting in shape for spring.

Was there a specific purpose and goal that you set out to achieve in the off-season. It seemed that last year you may have been up in the zone more than you wanted to be, especially to lefties.

Jon Link: I really wanted to work on locating my pitches down more and get a little more movement on my fastball. I have been a straight four-seam guy and I think I only threw one four-seamer all spring. The two-seamer has really helped me. What I am finding is when the ball is there the velocity is there. Only when the ball is up the velocity goes. Just trying to work the ball down a little more. A little more movement on my fastball as I move up the ladder is going to be key.

Is that an effort to produce more ground ball outs – I seem to recall the opposition was able to get quite a few doubles off you in Fort Wayne.

Jon Link: They hit the four-seamer a whole lot harder than they do the two-seamer. I am not a bat breaker but I started to break some bats this spring. I don't know whether it is me or them but all the catchers are saying "good movement." I really think I am going to be successful with this two-seamer.

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