Name: Josh Geer
DOB: June 2, 1983
And it was well-deserved. Geer may not grab the headlines because of pure stuff, but he should be a part of every fans Padres baseball acumen.
Since arriving in the system as a third-round pick out of Rice in 2005, Geer has proved he is a winner – going 34-14 with a 3.69 ERA over 66 games, including 64 starts.
During the 2007 season, he also proved to be a workhorse after netting 177.1 innings pitched across two leagues and winning 17 games compared to just six losses while also tossing two complete games.
All but one start came in Double-A San Antonio where he went 16-6 with a 3.20 ERA. His 17 wins were tied for tops in all of minor league baseball and he ranked fifth in innings pitched. He also picked up a victory in the playoffs, helping to lead San Antonio to the Texas League Championship.
There was some doubt with Josh," former San Antonio and current Portland manager Randy Ready admitted. "Was he going to excel at this level? Knowing this guy pitches to contact. Was his velocity going to come back? Is he going to be effective pitching inside?
"He really put all that to rest – and here he is Pitcher of the Year. The whole second half he had an ERA down in the two's. He was our go-to guy. When Josh took the mound, the club was confident and felt that we had an opportunity to win this game tonight."
Geer is what he is – a control pitcher that doesn't have overpowering stuff but works ahead in the count, hits his spots, and keeps hitters off-balance with a four-pitch repertoire.
"He's not an overpowering guy, no "Hollywood" pitch, but he's the poster child for what 70 percent of the minor league pitchers need to be; ability to locate, disrupt batters timing, and compete," Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "He makes big pitches at big times. He doesn't walk people, hits spots with his fastball, tricks them with his breaking pitches and makes outs with his change."
A fearless competitor, Geer works the inner half of the plate better than anyone in the Padres minor league system.
Even though he plunked 11 batters on the season to lead the San Antonio pitching staff, the right-hander was not deterred from throwing inside. He accepted that he would hit a few batters but also knew they would back off his plate – setting up the outside corner as a funeral ground where hits go to die.
"I think understanding how to pitch inside," former San Antonio and current Portland pitching coach Glenn Abbott said of the reason for his success. "He understood it but he wasn't doing it effectively. Last year, he had a lot of hits to innings pitched. I didn't see him then. I talked to him a lot about how important it is to pitch inside.
"He has good command and gets the ball down. He got the ball down more as the season went on. He saw what a difference it makes when you pitch inside to keep hitters off-balance."
As he kept coming inside, his confidence and control got better – skimming the corners instead of hitting batters and still getting them bailing.
"When you throw a lot of strikes and use both sides of the plate – they have to understand that a guy can't hit a fastball inside and outside," said Abbott. "He might be able to catch it but he can't hurt you.
"He has to understand the changeup being your money pitch – keep those guys reaching for that ball. If you stay away, stay away, they sit out there and look for it."
Using pinpoint control of a fastball that sits in the high-80s and touches 90-91 MPH, Geer is able to setup the rest of the at-bat.
Painting the inside corner and getting the ball on the fists ensured few balls were hit hard early in the count. He would then pound the ball away and get the batter rolling over on the pitch or extending the strike zone and swinging at his pitches.
Geer's changeup is also a very good pitch that has plus appearance, at times. With the propensity for working the inside corner, the changeup away became a go-to pitch that had hitters reeling. If it wasn't a strikeout, Geer would get the batter reaching for the ball and hitting weak ground balls.
The right-hander also mixes in a consistent slider that has good break away from right-handers. It is a solid put-away pitch, as the hitters are often gearing up for the fastball or changeup when it comes.
Geer also has a curveball that is more of a "show-me" pitch with good arc. He does not have as much confidence in the pitch as he does with the other three but can be used to throw a hitter's timing off.
"His velocity has increased, his changeup is great, his breaking ball is below-average, but he has a good feel for what he is doing," former Padres minor league field coordinator and current MLB scout Bill Bryk said.
Averaging 1.4 walks per nine innings, Geer ensured the opposition would have to put the ball in play to best him. While there was five games where he allowed double-digit hit totals, Geer persistent approach and unwavering gameplan also produced five contests where he allowed three hits or fewer while going seven or more innings in each of those games.
A quick starter that believes in setting the tone early, Geer uses pitch sequencing and smarts to beguile hitters. More importantly, he listened to the instruction of the coaching staff and saw the returns, posting a 2.63 ERA after the All-Star break.
"There was a situation earlier this year, and he was pitching well, we were playing Frisco and he didn't go but four innings," Abbott recalled. "I went out there and he said, ‘Geez, these guys are just hanging all out over the plate and hitting everything.' I said, ‘Remember what we have been talking about.'
"That is what really opened his eyes to how important it is to pitch inside whether you are throwing strikes or not. He made that adjustment from that point on, and he made sure he was using the fastball inside and pitched a lot inside."
ETA: Geer will begin the year at Triple-A with an eye on making his major league debut this year. If he can continue the mastery he laid into the opposition in 2007, Geer is an injury away from making his mark. He may now have the ‘Wow' factor but is reliable and gets outs. That is what any staff could use every fifth day.
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