Padres Draft Interview: Anthony Bass

The first pitcher taken by the San Diego Padres came in round five in the form of Anthony Bass. Not only was that a surprise, but Bass also breaks the soft-tossing mold the Friars generally have favored. It wasn't always that way.

Anthony Bass became the first Warrior to be drafted since Steve Squires in 2005, and the highest-picked Wayne State baseball player in program history.

A Rawlings/ABCA All-America First Team and NCBWA All-America Third Team selection in 2008, Bass went 10-3 in 14 appearances this past season, posting a 2.10 earned run average and 100 strikeouts in 85.2 innings. He tied the single-season school record for victories and totaled the fourth-most strikeouts and fifth-most innings in Wayne State history.

In his three year career, Bass ranks in the top-10 all-time at Wayne State in several categories, including: second in strikeout/walk ratio (3.38), third in victories (21), tied for third in winning percentage (.700), fourth in strikeouts (206), seventh in starts (33), eighth in innings pitched (213.0), and tied for 10th in complete games (14).

Prior to the 2008 season, however, Bass was a pitcher who had trouble breaking 90 MPH. That changed during the off-season.

Bass' evolution is his to tell:

I went out to northern California to play summer ball and I learned – I learned over the last three years from the pitching coach at Wayne State, but I really started picking up on Tim Lincecum's pitching style.

I don't want to change my mechanics but he is 5-foot-11 and throwing 97 and 98. I am bigger than he is – ‘how come I can't do that?'

I started experimenting with a few things out in California. A little bit more coil in my mechanics and I felt like I was really exploding to the glove a lot more than I had been.

The first game I started doing that – and I was throwing in the high-80s, hitting 90-91, if I was lucky. I started experimenting with it in the bullpen, and I had never thrown like that in a game. ‘I am going to try it and see what happens.'

We have a radar gun over on our right field wall for my summer team in northern California. The first inning I went out there, I felt good – like I did in the bullpen. I had altered my mechanics a little bit to give me a little more coil and I did very well. I struck out two of the three batters and the last guy grounded out. I came into the dugout and all the guys – their eyes were so big.

‘Dude, you just hit 94 on the radar gun.'

I was like, ‘Yeah, you are funny.'

‘No, man, you hit it three or four times!'

‘You have to be kidding me?' So, I thought this must be working. The hitters were behind it and it was working for me so I stayed with it. I ended up doing well the rest of the game and got the win.

I said, ‘I think I found it, and I am going to keep it like this.'

I pitched the rest of the summer like that and came back to Wayne State. I throw a four-seam fastball, a curveball, a circle changeup and a slider.

Out in the summertime with the wooden bats, all I really needed was my changeup and my fastball. I perfected my changeup and it became one of my better pitches. When I came back to Wayne State – I threw my slider every now and then out in the summer. It was pretty good. But I know a lot of power pitchers have a pretty good slider so I decided I am going to start working on one. I started working on my slider in the fall and winter when I got back.

When we started throwing inside to our hitters, I started throwing my slider. What we did was inside in the batting cage – and yes, it is an advantage to the pitchers because the lighting inside the cages isn't the greatest and it is hard to pick up the baseball. I was striking out our batters and doing really well. They were really impressed and I wasn't thinking it was anything because I had a lot of things in my favor.

They asked, ‘When did you start throwing your slider like that?'

I said, ‘I have just been working on it.'

They said, ‘You need to start throwing that in games. That is just dirty.'

I said back, ‘I will try it. It is still a work in progress.'

In our first game, we ended up facing the number 10 team in the nation – Division II, Grand Valley State. I threw my slider for the first time and it was a little rusty.

My buddy who I played with back in high school plays for Grand Valley State came up to me after the game and said, ‘That is one of the dirtiest pitches I have ever seen. You need to keep throwing that pitch. You are going to do really well with that.'

"I thought it had to much break on it and was a little slow.'

He said, ‘No, it is a good pitch. Keep working on it.'

I kept working on it and then perfected that and had my changeup to go to. I had a lot of fun in the regular season and it felt like all the guys fed off me when I was on the mound. That is what made everything really exciting for me.

I ended my college career getting drafted by the Padres. I couldn't ask for anything more. This is so unreal.

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