Padres Prospect Interview: Tyson Bagley

It is hard to miss Tyson Bagley. Not only is he one of the tallest players in the San Diego Padres system, he is also amongst the loudest – a noted clubhouse clown. On the mound, however, he is all business and uses the height to his advantage.

Well Bags, talk to me first about the experience of professional baseball. You come from Dallas Baptist

Tyson Bagley: It's been a wonderful experience. It's definitely a change playing every day. But it's been a great experience as far as the relationships I've established with the players and the coaches and the environment. It's a blast; every day I'm so grateful to come to the baseball field as a career. It's pretty lucky; pretty fortunate.

You get to work with pitching coach Dave Rajsich. He's an old wise man, he knows his stuff. Have there been any changes to your mechanics? Anything he wants to see a little bit more of?

Tyson Bagley: Yeah, there have been drastic changes just in the short time I've been here. Rajsich's really been helping me out a lot with being able to repeat my delivery, establishing a changeup as well as a fastball down in the zone, pounding strikes; a lot of things, too much to list in this interview. But he's been really helping me out with mechanics, mental side of the game, just becoming a better overall pitcher is what he's been helping me out with.

You obviously have the height. How important is that, getting on top of the ball so you get that downhill plane coming towards the hitter?

Tyson Bagley: Any way you look at it, you still got to get that ball across the plate at the same time. I don't know if it gives me an advantage or not. I think we've got some great pitchers on our teams and I'm just trying to be one of the next guys. So, I think it might help a little bit, who knows? We've got some great guys on our team, I'm just trying to be like anybody else; work hard and see where this can take me.

You mentioned the changeup just a second ago. Is that a new pitch for you?

Tyson Bagley: Yeah, I've never thrown a changeup until I came here. I was always a fastball/slider guy.

How is that for you?

Tyson Bagley: It's coming along pretty well.

I talked to Rajsich. He said he was surprised at the progress of the pitch.

Tyson Bagley: It's coming along pretty well. You know, it's a feel pitch and I've never been a big feel guy; I was always a guy that would rear back and just threw the ball. Obviously, it's getting better every time and every day I work on it and throw it, it's getting better. So, it's becoming a very important pitch with professional baseball.

Now, does that take away anything from the fastball and slider combination? Because you kind of get in to that rhythm where "I could throw this pitch, well now my slider, I need my good extension that I needed for the same fastball", where it's two different feels.

Tyson Bagley: No, I don't think it takes away, I think it adds to the arsenal of pitches that you can throw. I think it just puts one more thing in those guys' heads, knowing "could he throw a changeup here or a slider or a fastball"? I think it adds to the arsenal. I think it's the best pitch in baseball.

Talk about what the level of competition is after coming from Dallas Baptist? Have you seen anything different? Are you taking advantage of wood bats and going: "Hey, that aluminum stuff is…?"

Tyson Bagley: It's definitely better playing with the wood. As far as talent goes, obviously we're all in the same boat here, professional athletes. I've seen some amazing talent since I've been here, just in this short season, rookie ball. I've been very impressed with the talent that I've seen. Coming from Dallas Baptist, we also played against some good competition there too, so I can't take that away either. I've seen some of the best competition, some of the best athletes I've seen here at this level thus far in my career.

So what do you think the strength of your game is?

Tyson Bagley: I think the strength of my game is establishing the fast ball early, working off-speed late and just trying to pound that strike zone every time and making those guys force contact or if not, strike them out, but no free bases. I don't like to give up walks or hit by pitches or anything like that, I don't like to give that up.

Is there a guy in the majors that you look to and say, "love the way he plays the game"?

Tyson Bagley: I can name several of them. Obviously, the guy I like who's been a favorite pitcher of mine is Mariano Rivera. The way that he approaches a game, he's a student of the game, not just a natural talent. A guy who approaches and studies hitters and studies charts and does all of that. Obviously his career that he has established has been something that you can't really take away from him, so that's one guy I definitely look up to. Another guy would be Chris Young. I like to compare and contrast big guy, this that, I think I like the way he plays the game too. He gets that downward angle on the ball; he's got some good pitches behind that too. Those are two of the guys I like.

You mentioned studying games, doing charts. Riddoch's a pretty big guy on that. Bought everybody a journal; something they could write in and kind of put their thoughts down. Is this something new to you?

Tyson Bagley: Yeah, you know, that's definitely something new that I'm learning each day. Before that, I'd just usually show up at the ballpark "alright, you're throwing today", "o.k., no problem". Just get in there and get outs and do what I can do. Now I'm learning that you get that mental strength behind your talent, that makes you that much better of a player. When you study the charts and you study the talent and the guys hitting, it makes you that much better.

What are you writing down in there?

Tyson Bagley: I study the charts, I've been looking at the hitter's charts and what type of hitters they are; fastball guys, pull hitters, drive the other way hitters, etc… That's the thing I like to look at: What kind of hitter are they? Are they are power guy, pull hitter, oppo, swing at fast balls up, etc, etc…

Now, you come in to a game with a plan, you get out on the mound, you want to kind of forget that stuff a little bit and just pitch your game. There are two different contrasts there.

Tyson Bagley: Well, when the game starts when I cross that line, I don't think about anything except for getting those guys out. They aren't going to score on me, I'm going to do my best not to let them score and give my team the best chance I possibly can to win the game. At the end of the game if I didn't do that, I knew I gave my best trying. That's the way I like to approach it. But yeah, during that game, when I step across that line, it's business. It's not about studying this, or doing this, and putting too many thoughts in your head. It's all business, throwing strikes, getting outs and doing what you can do; handling what you can control.

That's a serious answer, but I do hear you are the clubhouse clown.

Tyson Bagley: Yeah, I have a good time too off the field. Like I said, when you step across that line, it's business. At the end of that, I'm the biggest, goofiest guy you'll ever meet in your life, I have a good time. That's definitely true, that's definitely true. No doubt about that.

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