Padres Draft Interview: Tom Davis

Tom Davis signed his deal on Monday afternoon after being selected by the San Diego Padres in the 2008 MLB Draft and was afforded a ticket to Eugene and the Emeralds in the Northwest League.

Talk to us about being selected by the San Diego Padres and the feeling you had after being taken.

Tom Davis: I was actually out with my dad to stay away from the house. I decided to come back home for some reason to hand out at home with my family. I went to the computer and saw my name pop up. The first thing I did was put my hands up in the air – in disbelief – total happiness.

The next thing I know I am getting a call from the scout that drafted me, Jim Bretz. I have no idea what the conversation was like. I am sure he congratulated me. I was so extremely happy – it was the best feeling of my life.

Talk about your repertoire of pitches and what speed you throw each pitch at. Is there an out pitch as well?

Tom Davis: I consider myself a groundball pitcher. I throw my two-seam fastball, which is usually around 88-90 and I can top out at 92. My out pitch is my changeup, which I throw at 77-80 MPH. I have a slider but it is the pitch I really need to work on to excel at the next level.

I noticed you only gave up two homers this past season. Is that something you take pride in – keeping everyone in the park?

Tom Davis: Definitely. For a pitcher like me that might not get a high number of strikeouts, getting groundballs and getting batters to swing at pitches early in the count – that has helped me pitch so deep into games and help my team win.

Do you feel like you are attacking lefties and righties the same and is there a particular pitch, like the changeup, that you throw to lefties only?

Tom Davis: I throw the changeup to both righties and lefties. Attacking the righties and lefties is basically the same for me.

What I changed this year, and what led to my success, is that I pitched inside and out – both sides of the plate more instead of focusing on the outer half of the plate.

Is that a mental thing? It seems like a lot of pitchers are not used to coming inside. Are you afraid of hitting someone when you first start?

Tom Davis: Yea, last year, I didn't have the mental aspect of throwing inside like I did this year. This year, when I chose to throw inside it was just about me and the catcher. I didn't care about where the batter was standing, if he was on the plate or not.

On the other hand, if I hit him, I might have missed by an inch and go on with the next batter and keep on working with the same gameplan.

What is it about the game of baseball that you love so much?

Tom Davis: I have been playing as long as I can remember – since I could first hold a bat and throw a ball. It is something I have worked hard at my whole life and have shared many great moments with my father and my two brothers growing up – hitting batting practice on the field right across from where we grew up.

It is a game my family loves. It is the best game in the world and I love playing it.

As an east coast kid, do you feel like it is a little tougher because you don't have that perfect weather all year round. Is the road a little harder?

Tom Davis: You don't have the advantages the players down south or out west have. They can pretty much play all year round. They have great weather to play in. In the northeast, you start out in the fall and do the best you can with what you have. In the winter, when other guys are scrimmaging down south, you are in the gym taking groundballs – in the gym. Practicing – it is a disadvantage.

You were the Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year this past season. What did that mean to you?

Tom Davis: That is something I am extremely proud of because the Atlantic 10 doesn't get the recognition it deserves as being a good baseball conference. I think there were many great pitchers in the league this year and was honored to be named the top pitcher in the Atlantic 10. It goes to show the hard work that paid off.

Is there someone in the major leagues that you model your game after or idolize?

Tom Davis: I am going to play for a west coast team but I wouldn't say I model myself after any pitcher but I like how Chien Ming Wang pitches. He is a sinkerballer and that is what I try to throw. It might not move as much as his does but I love the way he is able to get groundball after groundball and get hitters to swing at pitches early in the count. He does his job that way instead of throwing balls by everyone.

How difficult is it in that mental process to not want to strike everyone out? Is that the maturation process going through college?

Tom Davis: I think it is. I think you have to be in a certain mental frame of mind to realize you don't have to strike everyone out. You see young guys that can throw pretty hard trying to get three strikes against every single guy and meanwhile they have higher pitch counts throughout the game, have higher pitch counts.

What I try and do is be aggressive at the hitter, let them hit my pitches – don't be afraid of contact and trust your stuff. They are going to hit groundballs and get themselves out. You don't have to strike everyone out.

You mentioned the breaking pitch as being something you need to work on. What do you feel it needs to reach that improvement you speak of?

Tom Davis: Consistency with every pitcher is the most important things. At times, this year, I have shown a good slider. But, then again, there were other times I didn't have it for a few games and I would rely on my changeup and fastball more. To really succeed at the next level and throughout my career, the further development of my slider is going to be critical.

Do you feel the coaching in the professional ranks may lead you to that?

Tom Davis: That is something I have been looking forward to in all my years since high school and little league. Professional coaching and just getting the best assistance from the top people in the world.

They are going to tell me what to do and I am going to do everything they tell me. I am going to be a sponge and soak up all the information they can give me.

Are you a guy that keeps a journal on the opposition?

Tom Davis: I have done that before but the last two years the things I have done – I study the opposition and trust myself to read every hitter individually. When they come to the plate, I will read there stance, see how their swing is and pitch to my instincts.

What would you say is your best moment in baseball and why?

Tom Davis: The best baseball moment by far is being drafted and seeing my name on that list by the San Diego Padres. I am an east coast guy that has never been out to the west coast. Being drafted by the Padres was the most exciting thing that has happened in my life and I look forward to playing ball for their organization.

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