Padres Prospect Interview: Jon Ellis

After a tough month of April, Jon Ellis was one of the best relievers in the San Diego Padres farm system through the year. The use of a pitch he had in his repertoire last year but seldom went to has made a difference, as has the decrease in walks issued.

Talk about how the pitch sequencing has changed for you over the last year.

Jon Ellis: Sometimes I try to move my slider a little bit too much. I feel like I can throw my slider for a strike anytime I need to. The changeup is coming along well. The sinker is pretty good and I get a lot of groundballs on that.

When I get 0-2, I feel like I can throw any pitch and sometimes will go with the fastball – if he hits it, he hits it. If I go down 2-0, the hitter is looking for something to hit and there are times when the slider is a good pitch to throw.

You started off slow this season in April but really come on since then. How has it felt?

Jon Ellis: Probably the roughest month of my professional career – and even going back to college. It took a while to get out of it and when I did, everything fell back in place.

One thing we have talked about in the past is the walk totals. It seems like when the walks happened in the past, it would spiral a little bit for you. How do you stop that?

Jon Ellis: Like I have during the last two months – I would walk a guy and then go 0-2. Last year, I would have felt like I had to throw him something off the plate a little to make him chase. All I do now is ‘here it is. If you hit it, you hit it.' Basically, I have to do that even when I am not walking anybody but especially when you put guys on the bases for free.

You have been a guy the Padres have called upon with men on base – inherited runners. Is there a different mindset when you come into the game with runners already on?

Jon Ellis: I like to come back into the dugout and have the guy I just relieved come up to me and say, ‘Thanks, I appreciate it. Good job.' I would feel the same way. If I am the guy who comes out with runners on, I am looking for that guy to get it done. I like to be that guy.

You went to the Arizona Fall League last year. Did that teach you anything to help prepare for this year?

Jon Ellis: Yea, it taught me that you have to throw strikes. Also, all last year in San Antonio, I think I threw five changeups. I got to the AFL and threw 25. The change of speed and throwing the hitter's timing off is key.

You have always had the slider to go to and the sinker to get the ball on the ground. What will the changeup do and when do you throw it?

Jon Ellis: What it will do – and the slider will always be there for a strikeout pitch but if they are sitting on it, I can throw something that will look like a fastball and still be off-speed. Either foul it off, or hit it into the ground, or for a plus, swing and miss.

You have been one of the leaders each year amongst relievers in getting people to ground into double plays. Is that the bread and butter?

Jon Ellis: Definitely. You have a much better chance getting an out on the infield than through the air where it might hit the gaps or down the line.

What will be the motto for success now and in the future?

Jon Ellis: Just pounding the strike zone with the sinker, and if I get two strikes on them, try and put them away with the slider or changeup or whatever I need to use.

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