Padres Prospect Interview: Paul Abraham

PORTLAND, OR: When you are a 12th-round draft pick from a small school entering into your eighth year in the minor leagues after being released by one organization and playing a year of Independent League baseball, it goes without saying that you have a love of the game.

Paul Abraham, 28, was a big part of the San Antonio Missions' championship team last year, doing everything from eating innings to saving games. The big right-hander had his best year in the Padres organization with a 2.39 ERA, only allowing 39 hits in 52.2 innings and saving eight games in 10 attempts.

This year saw his ERA soar to 6.08 in April, but his numbers have been improved with an ERA of 3.08 [statistics through May 20]. Abraham's biggest problem so far has been control, walking 14 in 23 innings as compared to last year where he only walked 20 for the year.

It seemed like you turned the corner in San Antonio. What was the big reason for your success?

Paul Abraham: Pretty much what I've been working on this year, staying on top of the ball instead of trying to make the ball go into a right-handed hitter letting it go to the hitter. Right now, my big problem is that I'm trying to pull everything instead of just letting my mechanics take over. It will get back there. Right now, it's still early so I don't need to hit the panic button yet.

We were talking last year that you were one of the few, probably the only, Padres' pitchers that doesn't throw a changeup. You throw two fastballs, two-seam and four-seam and a slider. Are you getting a little more control with the two-seamer as opposed to last year?

Paul Abraham: I pretty much throw the two-seamer down the middle and let it run – same as last year. If I try to throw it inside, I would hit the guy in the foot; so I just throw it and hope for the best. If I'm ahead in the count, I'll throw the four-seamer to the inner half and I throw the slider when I need to.

It seems this year your release point is a little different than where it was last year.

Paul Abraham: My timing is a little off right now. I'm on top of the ball a little too much and my weight isn't fully back. It's coming around. It's just a question of repeating good mechanics.

It seems like everything you are saying is much more mental than physical.

Paul Abraham: Oh yeah. Physically I feel fine. Shoulder is great, elbow is fine. I have no problem with my body – it's just the mental side. It seems like once I figure out one problem then another one pops up. You resort to something new, and then it was the first thing you were working on. It's really important to keep a level head.

Last year you really got in a groove, and then you got hurt.

Paul Abraham: That is baseball. Once you think you got it figured out, and then you get hurt and have to start again. You think you get it figured out, and then you get hit around. You have ups and downs, it's all about trying to even out the tough parts and have a solid season.

You've been in the minors for eight years. You've had some high and low spots in your career but now you are in Triple-A, just a step away from the big leagues. Since you have worked so hard to get to this point it must feel really good to know that you are really getting close.

Paul Abraham: We were just talking about that a little while ago with some of my friends. Most of the guys that I came up with are gone. It's a good thing that I have lived to play this long. This is my first season in Triple-A, and it feels like it's been a grind to get here. I'm just trying to get myself straightened out so I can start to put up some good performances and hopefully put myself in position to get an opportunity.

Right now, though, my focus is throwing strikes here. Just find that comfort zone and get as many innings as I can.

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