Cooper Brannan: Most definitely. Playing down in rookie ball was about getting my feet wet, learn how to pitch in counts, situational pitching – things like that. Coming out this year, I have a better understanding of pitching.
What lessons can you take away from last season to help you in the coming year?
Cooper Brannan: Definitely getting ahead in the count, fastball/changeup command. With me, I had to work on my secondary pitches.
I took this whole off-season and just did not but work on changeup and breaking ball – work them down in the zone and I am definitely getting my arm strength back. I should be sitting around 88 to 90 this year and hopefully all that works in the off-season pays off.
Last year when we spoke, you were sitting in the mid-80s. Is part of that getting back into the rhythm of throwing again?
Cooper Brannan: I think the biggest thing was getting out here that first season and throwing. They told me it is going to take time to get the arm strength back up. It started improving towards the end of the season.
Before I came out (to Spring Training in 2007), I was probably throwing around 88, and when you get out there you are throwing every day, day in and day out. My velocity dropped down. Some days I would throw 83 to 85 and in the middle to the end of the season, my arm started to come alive and I was sitting around 86.
With the pitch that I throw – I am a good sinkerball pitcher – they liked that I am sitting 88.
Was that frustrating for you at times when you are coming into an organization, trying to prove yourself, and it just isn't where you want it to be? At the same time, it has to be a mental game you have to win.
Cooper Brannan: I think from the mental standpoint, I am mentally strong from what I have been through and my experiences. It is on me to work hard and show them I can do it. They are giving me the time and putting in the effort to help me be the pitcher I can be.
This was your second spring with the Padres – what could you gain specifically from spring and extended?
Cooper Brannan: The biggest thing I am working on is keeping the ball down in the zone and hitting my spots. I am trying not to overpower anyone. Pitch within myself. What is great about this organization is they are not asking us to throw as hard as we can. ‘All we ask is you keep the ball down, hit your spots and get ahead in the count.'
Last year may have been a learning year for you but this year you probably have more expectations for yourself. What would be a good year for Cooper Brannan?
Cooper Brannan: Being able to command my secondary pitches, not worry about any one outing and keep progressing and learning as a pitcher.
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