Padres Prospect Interview: Nick Schumacher

Getting the first out in an inning was a specialty for Nick Schumacher. Splitting time between Eugene and Arizona in his professional debut season, the right-hander talks about his first year in the San Diego Padres system.

First, let's talk a little bit about your role, which was a little bit different than college, I imagine? How interesting is it to get used to, coming out of the bullpen?

Nick Schumacher: Oh, it's crazy, because you got to pitch every other two days and my arm's not really used to that, but it was fun. You get to pitch more often, I guess.

Is it tough to get mentally prepared for that? Because you don't know when you're going to pitch, A, and then you don't know what inning's it's going to be.

Nick Schumacher: Yeah, it's not too bad. You just got to have the same focus pretty much throughout the whole time you're down in the pen. I mean, it's the same; you're in there. As soon as the batter steps in the box, it doesn't change much.

So how's the maturation process been for you from when you first got to college to now?

Nick Schumacher: Oh, it's been a lot. I mean, I came in at 165 in college, left at 200. Up to 210 now, fastballs lower-90s now. Just learn how to play the game even more now, scouting all that stuff it's even a lot more to take in than college.

Greg Riddoch's a guy who instituted journals. Is that something that's new for you?

Nick Schumacher: It is kind of new, but in college we did something kind of similar where we did the chart of the other team and then we went over it before the games. So it's kind of the same thought process, but now you're doing it on your own, so a little different. So what are you writing down there?

Nick Schumacher: Just mainly things like, say the guy that hit a home run off me. Obviously, now stay away; soft stuff away instead of hard in. Just stuff like that about the hitters.

You go out to Eugene and get to work with pitching coach Dave Rajsich too. What kind of things did you work on out there in the pen that you're hoping to bring to the game?

Nick Schumacher: I'm working on an off-speed slider or curveball because all I have is fastball/changeup. My slider that was in college: the seams are a little smaller here, so it doesn't move as much. So now I'm starting to work on either a hard slider or a slower curveball. That's one thing we've been trying to get right.

You're working on both, just to see which one is going to feel better in the long run?

Nick Schumacher: Yeah, exactly. He wants, typically, 4-5 MPH in every single pitch difference. I want a hard slider and then I want a slow curveball or a changeup or whatever.

How did it coming along? Which one do you feel better with?

Nick Schumacher: The hard slider seems like what I'm going to go with. I might try to mix in the curveball, but I'm not sure about that yet. We'll see the situation; if we're up big, then I'll probably try to use it. But if not, then we'll probably save it.

You come into an organization that emphasizes the changeup as a huge pitch. You come in with one, so you're kind of ahead of the game in that respect, that you can go with those two pitches, especially out of relief while you're working on a third pitch.

Nick Schumacher: Yeah, exactly. The changeups been my go-to pitch when I'm behind the count. It was a pretty good pitch in college, didn't throw it that much, but here, since they emphasize it, it's been getting better and better.

What was your third pitch in college, then?

Nick Schumacher: My third pitch was a slider, it was a hard slider, but when I came here I had to switch grips because it just spun.

So is it tighter to control, harder to control with a smaller ball, with the seams?

Nick Schumacher: I think it's easier to control, obviously it doesn't move as much, as much as you like the movement and stuff like that, so it's a little different. I mean, because I walked a lot of guys in college, and then here it seems like I'm all around the plates.

You throw four-seam and two-seam fastball?

Nick Schumacher: Just two-seam. No four-seam.

The two-seam, obviously the other part is first pitch strikes? So you're working ahead with the 2-seam, then going to the off-speed? Or are you working in an occasional changeup early in the count?

Nick Schumacher: You usually don't throw too many changeups on the first pitch unless you know the guy swinging. It's usually get ahead, hard and low in the zone, and then you work off that. Either go back to it or depending on what the hitter's looking for.

One thing you've been able to do is put hitters away. When you get two strikes, you've been able to bury them. However you're getting them out, it doesn't really matter, but they're with it! What's the key to that?

Nick Schumacher: Pretty much inside; get two strikes on them, they start to spread out, and start cover the outside part of the plate, so inside with a two-seamer that runs in under the hands or a changeup down low. That's pretty much been my go-to pitches when I get two strikes.

Most people wouldn't be throwing inside as early in their career as this, just because you never know; there's almost a little bit of fear involved. How did you get to be in such a place where you'll throw inside?

Nick Schumacher: Our coach stressed it a lot in college. We really had to work both sides of the plate, and I'm more comfortable pitching inside than I am outside. Because I still struggle a little bit: I tend to pull the ball across the plate because it runs to the middle. I figure if I throw inside and miss inside, then they're going to move.

I've seen a slider or two from you, and it looked like there were some late tail to it, just like it's going, and then it just dropped. But it has some pretty big drop, I think Emmanuel Quiles was behind the plate for you that night, and it looked like you were almost throwing it too far outside, trying to get it.

Nick Schumacher: Yeah, that's where I was having trouble; I wasn't throwing it hard enough.

How is throwing it harder going to change it?

Nick Schumacher: It's going to basically just cut down on the movement, so it's going to be harder, probably 85, I would assume. So it's just going to be like a cutter, so just ground balls basically I'm looking at for it.

Do you attack lefties and righties differently?

Nick Schumacher: Yeah, I use changeup against lefties a lot more, because I can leave it on the outside part of the plate, and obviously they can't pull it over the fence. I have one pitch that'll go this way, one that'll go that way.

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