Padres Prospect Interview: Josh Geer

PORTLAND, OR: Last year Josh Geer, 25, was the Pitcher of the Year, winning sixteen games for the Texas League champions San Antonio Missions and a game in a spot start for Portland in Triple-A.

Underneath an easygoing charm, Geer is one of the more cerebral pitchers in the Padres organization with an ability to place his two-seam fastball on both sides of the plate to go along with a solid changeup and an uncanny ability to put the ball where hitters don't want it.

The big knock on Geer has always been his velocity, but he's also demonstrated an ability to consistently throw a sinker at the knees for strikes and last year much of his success was an ability to work both sides of the plate more aggressively than in the past.

This year, Geer is off to a so-so start with a 5-7 record and a 4.19 ERA within the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, a little tougher one than the Texas League, especially the home stadium in San Antonio which plays like a mini-PETCO.

He's still considered one of the starting pitchers the Padres would most likely go to after the All-Star break if an injury occurs. Look for Geer's numbers to improve as the weather warms up in the northwest.

As someone who has seen you pitch in Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore you put up solid performances. Last year you really seemed to turn the corner in San Antonio. What was the big difference?

Josh Geer: My arm felt great last year coming out of spring training. I got ready a little bit earlier than I did before. I was lucky that I got that fifth spot in San Antonio and knew that I had to open some eyes. I pitched aggressively throughout the whole season going inside, outside and keeping the ball down. Luckily it came out good.

Since you are not a pitcher with big velocity how did you improve upon your movement and location within the strike zone?

Josh Geer: Early on in the season, there was one start in the season against Frisco where I wasn't throwing inside and guys were just leaning out over the plate and hitting it everywhere. Right then, I knew I had to do something about it and pitching inside help me out. The key for me is pitch to both sides of the plate, keep the ball down and not let the hitter get comfortable.

It's easy for someone to say that you throw inside but unless you have really great stuff that is the way that you can also get hurt. When you throw inside are you necessarily trying to throw a strike or just getting the batter to move his feet?

Josh Geer: Yeah, if you move their feet then the guy is thinking, ‘hey he's going to come inside' so he can't just stay on the outside part of the plate. I'm not going to overpower anyone but coming inside is usually a purpose pitch and sometimes they even swing at it. I have a reputation as a strike thrower so it helps me out sometimes when it isn't a strike. Early in the count, you throw a purpose pitch inside to keep them honest.

You seemed to have a great rapport with your catchers last year, Nick Hundley and Colt Morton. They were both raving about your ability when sitting on the bench to predict not only what pitch was coming, but where the batter was going to hit it. How do you take that out to the mound when you pitch? If I remember correctly you even said it was kind of easy in Double-A that you would just throw what they weren't expecting?

Josh Geer: [laughs] Well, I never meant to say it was easy. When you are sitting on the bench, you can see certain things. When you see guys diving in, pound it in. When you see them pulling away, put in outside. If you study the game, you see hitter's tendencies and weaknesses.

How much of a scouting report to you get in the minors. It's not like the majors where you have video.

Josh Geer: No, no, you don't get the video. We just go off of what everyone has seen, but with new guys it's hard. With vets we have a little better idea of what they did in the past and if they made any adjustments.

The pitches that you throw is mainly a two-seam sinker, change and a slider that looks like a two-seamer but ends up out of the zone.

Josh Geer: I had a curveball last year, but I haven't really thrown it this year. I'm also throwing more of a cutter that goes away from righties. Luckily, it's been going well this year.

This year you have been up and down. Is it more of a question of just struggling to get a consistent release point than the increase in competition?

Josh Geer: Yeah, that is pretty much it. I'm just trying to be consistent. Last year, I just wanted to start strong and finish strong. It felt really good last year almost every start with my two-seam and changeup. Hopefully I can apply it again this year.

Is it more fun being the guy that is coming off of a great season with expectations than being someone who is struggling to make the rotation as you were last year?

Josh Geer: [laughs] I'll take that any day. I can relax a little bit and just go out and try my best each time.

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