Padres Prospect Interview: Jackson Quezada

FORT WAYNE, IN: Wizards closer Jackson Quezada is one of a small core of Dominican players the Padres have in Fort Wayne that they hope will eventually develop into a pipeline from the island to the major leagues.

Quezada, 21, emerged as Fort Wayne's closer early this year and so far has saved 24 out of 26 save opportunities to go along with a 2-3 record and a 2.01 ERA. He's struck out 62 batters in 53.2 innings against only 37 hits and 17 base-on-balls.

The big right-hander is 6-foot-4 and substantially over his listed weight of 170-pounds, probably much closer to 210, but is well put together. Quezada relies up a sinking two-seam fastball and a developing slider and change. His coaches describe him at being very good at keeping everything down in the zone, and once he becomes better at varying his speeds and improving upon that slider, he could become very good. Currently, he leads the organization in saves.

Why don't you give us a little bit of background on yourself first before we get started? I believe you were at the Padres Dominican Academy. Could you describe what life is like there?

Jackson Quezada: I'm from the Dominican Republic and went to the Padres baseball academy there. This year, they have a new academy, but I haven't seen it yet. At the academy, we worked hard every day, a lot of great coaches that try to teach you how to play baseball the right way.

Is that where you picked up your English, which is very good?

Jackson Quezada: Oh yeah, but it's not so good. Still needs much work [laughs].

Hey, it's better than my Spanish.

Jackson Quezada: [laughs] I've just been trying to work hard here every day at everything. I have my goal, which is to play and stay in the big leagues for a long time. I try to work hard not only physically but mentally as well to prepare myself for what I am going to try to do out there on the mound. As a relief pitcher, I have to be ready to throw every day. My pitching coach has really been working with me on my slider and changeup.

Is it easier for you mentally now that you are the closer to get into a set routine? Because you know what situations you will be coming in?

Jackson Quezada: Yes. I feel comfortable being the closer.

Even with all the pressure of the game on the line?

Jackson Quezada: Oh yeah, I love it [laughs]. I feel very good and take a lot of pride in how I prepare. When the sixth inning comes up, I start getting ready. I know what I need to do to prepare. That is why I prepare everyday because you never know when you will have to go in.

How do you bounce back when you have a bad outing? Because when you don't pitch well the team loses. How do you have the confidence to go out there the next night?

Jackson Quezada: I try to forget about it. The next day is a new day, new game and I have to save this game for my team and for myself.

What type of pitches do you throw? What is your best pitch and worst pitch?

Jackson Quezada: I have a two-seam fastball, slider and a change. My best pitch is my fastball which sinks and moves very well and the pitch I need to work on the most is my slider. Before I threw the slider too slow and need to get more spin on it. I work with my pitching coach everyday on my slider and it's getting better and better.

The big pitch with the Padres is the changeup.

Jackson Quezada: It's the best pitch in baseball. We work on that every day.

What is the biggest thing you need to work on to make it to the big leagues?

Jackson Quezada: My breaking ball and better command of my fastball.

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