Padres Prospect Interview: Josh Geer

San Antonio, TX-- Although Josh Geer didn't exactly come out of nowhere, he wasn't supposed to be this good. had him as the #31 prospect going into the year, while we liked his changeup and his ability to pitch, we weren't sure if he had enough of a fastball to succeed at higher levels.

He had a good first half, but has been even better since the All-Star break, going 8-2 with a 2.63 ERA, allowing 59 hits in 78.2 innings with a K/BB ratio of 38/10. Texas League batters are hitting a measly .207 off of him in the second half.

With the exception of one bad stretch in June, where he was 1-3 with a 4.78 ERA, Geer, 24, has been arguably the best pitcher in the Padres system at 16-6 with a 3.20 ERA and a win in Portland when he was called up for a spot start. Geer throws three pitches, a fastball, changeup and a slider, which he can put on either side of the plate. His fastball sits in the mid-to-high 80s.

Why the big turnaround?

According to his pitching coach Glenn Abbot, the key has become his ability to use both sides of the plate, especially the inside portion of it.

"He was getting knocked around a little in his fourth start of the year in Frisco and guys were just leaning over the plate," said Abbott. "I think at that point he started to realize that you have to use both sides of the plate, especially the inside part, because hitters can't protect both sides of the plate."

First, congratulations on being named the Texas League Pitcher of the Year. It has to be not only a big honor for you professionally but being from Texas it must be especially big.

Josh Geer: It's a big honor being from Texas with all of my family being able to see me.

Now, many league minor league pundits and others, including myself, have written that although you posted some solid numbers at levels below, we weren't sure how well your stuff would hold up at higher levels. What are the reasons behind you having so much success at this high of a level?

Josh Geer: I've been working on things, mainly staying more consistent. Last year I would have a good outing, and then have a bad one.

Either Player of the Month or a disappointment.

Josh Geer: Yeah, that's right [laughing]. This year I've just been working on keeping my two-seamer down, being more careful with my four seamer and working both sides of the plate. Keep the hitters off balance, mix in the change and the slider and keep them guessing.

All of that sounds relatively simple, but it's much harder to actually do it. Throw three pitches for strikes, throw it in and out, change speeds, etc..Is there any reason you've had more success than others who have tried the same thing?

Josh Geer: I'll work a lot more on my weaknesses in my bullpen sessions and that way hopefully it will come through in the game. Luckily, I've been able to establish my fastball this year early in the game, which has helped me to get ahead in the count.

When you get ahead in the count, does that mean you are going to throw the change and slider more?

Josh Geer: Yeah, definitely, but I can also go the other way. The key is to keep them guessing and never get comfortable. If its 0-1, yeah, you can throw something off-speed and try to get them to chase it. If they don't its only 1-1. The key is getting ahead on the count.

What do you believe is your biggest improvement from last year in Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore?

Josh Geer: Mainly just working inside, especially to lefties. The last two years I wasn't able to establish my fastball inside and they were just leaning over the plate and hitting everything. I think what I've really improved upon is getting their feet moving and throwing inside strikes. Also keeping the ball down, especially at this level. If you leave the ball up, you are going to get hurt.

You had a great quote in an earlier interview where you said the difference between you having a great month and a bad month was about six inches up. If it's at the knees I'm pitcher of the month, if it's higher than I'm in trouble.

Josh Geer: Exactly [laughing]. Yeah that is very well put because it could be the difference between a home run and an out.

You pitched well in Portland in your one game up there and you've had a great year here in San Antonio. This season must have done wonders for your confidence in believing that you have a chance to pitch in the big leagues.

Josh Geer: Oh yeah. I hoped to come in and turn some heads and think I've done that this year. I worked really hard in the off-season and hoped that they can see that.

So with all of your success this year, do you think you may have an outside shot at a spot in the rotation next year for the Padres?

Josh Geer: It's crazy to think that but I would love to get that opportunity. I think that I could show them what I've got to succeed there too.

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