Padres Prospect Interview: Rolando Valdez

Fort Wayne, IN-- Entering this week's Midwest League All-Star break, right-hander Rolando Valdez carries a 1-1 record with an era sitting nicely at 2.72 in 31.2 innings pitched. Coming up as an outfielder in his native Mexico, Valdez was not seen as a pitcher until—like the situation in Fort Wayne—his team ran out of pitchers and turned to his arm for help.

After displaying good velocity on both his fastball and changeup, Valdez' days in the outfield were finished.

You had a successful year in Eugene. What were the keys to your success there?

Rolando Valdez: Just throwing a lot of strikes, getting ahead in the counts, just trying to concentrate on making a first pitch strike.

You've got a good fastball and changeup, what have you been working on to develop a third pitch?

Rolando Valdez: I'm working on my fastball and changeup, like all of my other pitches. I'm working on my curveball. I work on that every day before the games, and am trying to get it into the games and throw it at the right times.

What are you working on with your mechanics?

Rolando Valdez: Right now I'm not really focusing much on my mechanics. Nobody's really mentioned anything that I've been doing wrong, so I'm just focusing on my pitches.

You were an outfielder before you went to the mound. Has that transition been a little tough, or has been easy?

Rolando Valdez: Yeah, it's pretty tough to convert from an outfielder to a pitcher. Now I'm working hard to be a pitcher, because I was an outfielder for five years before signing as a pitcher with the Padres. Now I'm working constantly on pitching so that I can keep pitching like I'm doing.

Do you miss hitting? We saw you hit a home run in Eugene last year.

Rolando Valdez: Yeah I miss it a lot—I like to hit. Like every other position player switched to a pitcher, I miss hitting.

When did you know that you could pitch?

Rolando Valdez: One day in Mexico, I was playing outfield in a game, and like it happened here with us, they put me in to pitch, and I was throwing hard and throwing strikes. That's when I knew.

How did your changeup become your big pitch?

Rolando Valdez: I just work on it day after day, and it gets better and better, and I am getting more confident in it.

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