Bradley on Padres Low-A pitching prospects

Tom Bradley had some of the most promising pitchers in the San Diego Padres system come through his neck of the woods as the pitching coach of the Fort Wayne Wizards. Aaron Breit, Allen Harrington, Jeremy Hefner, Omar Gutierrez and Corey Kluber were just a few of the names discussed.

How do you view success as the coach?

Tom Bradley: Overall development of a pitcher – whether he's going to be able to pitch at the next level, hopefully at the major league level. That's what player development is all about is trying to develop your prospects into reaching their potential. That's what player development is all about.

Aaron Breit had an up and down year. What did you work with him on throughout the season?

Tom Bradley: He came to us after having a little bit of elbow; he had an elbow operation in the winter time, during instructional league. I'd never worked with him before. He was in Eugene two years ago, and then I was in Eugene, so I missed him. He came to us after throwing the ball real well in Arizona.

We put him in the rotation after he got one or two relief appearances, and he was lights out the first one against Lansing; put him in the rotation and he struggled a little bit with his command, then we put him in the bullpen.

The last time out he pitched very well, his last outing, which was a real good sign. He's got good stuff. He has a 90-92 mph fastball, so he's got an average to above average major league fastball. His slider's pretty good; curveball, his arm speed is good; a very usable pitch.

Hasn't really developed a changeup a lot; it's hard when you're in the bullpen to really work on. You can't throw like a starter does, where you're on a routine, throw twice between starts. You can't work on secondary pitches, especially the changeup. You know how important the development of the changeup is for our starting pitchers. So, that's a pitch he's really got to work on. I know he went to instructional leagues and that was one of the things he was going to work on. He needs better fastball command down in the zone.

Hopefully, he's going to put it together, he's only 22. He certainly has the arm to make it all the way; it's just a question of refining and getting better command, better control in the strike zone. He's got the pitches, no question, he's got the pitches. The strength is there, the arm strength is there, the pitches are there, it's just a matter of him putting it together and hopefully he will.

Allen Harrington was great for you before his season ended. What did you see from the young man?

Tom Bradley: He's a real good competitor and really battles – pitched well for us. I think he had three saves that were four innings when we were in that eight-man rotation.

He pitched very well, had a real good outing and then the next day that he said his arm was bothering, actually, it was against Great Lakes, I think, he pitched very, very well.

He's got four pitches. His fastball's probably a little bit below average, but he spots the fastball pretty well. He's got pretty good control. His best pitch is probably his curveball – throws a slider to left handers.

His changeup has really improved. He really worked hard on improving his changeup. The role he was in, he was pitching 3-4 innings at a time, so he could work on it between starts.

It's a shame he got hurt. He got hurt June 1st. I think, and we didn't have him the last three months of the season. So, that hurt us. Take out a quality arm out of your 12-pitcher mix is kind of tough.

He's a great battler, competitor, and really goes hard. He gives it his all every time he's out. Hopefully he'll bounce back come spring training. I don't know what his status is as far as surgery or anything like that.

Jeremy Hefner simply gets it done. How has he been so successful during the two years you have had him now?

Tom Bradley: He is a very focused young man, he is very routine oriented. He's got, probably, the best pitchability, knows how to pitch better than anybody on our staff this year. He throws three pitches for strikes.

Fastball – I think he threw a little bit harder in college. He has showed signs the last couple of starts of hitting 90-91. He's working on a 2-seamer. He needs a fastball that moves, he just can't get by with a 4-seamer. He's working on that, I know that was a priority in instructional league.

His slider, as long as his arm speed is good, and he maintains the same arm slot, is very, very good. In the Midwest League, when it was on, guys didn't hit it, hitters really struggled with it. He could throw that pitch any time in the count.

What's made him is really the changeup. He didn't throw it much in college and really picked it up early in instructional league last year. That's all he did was throw fastballs and changeups. They didn't let him throw any breaking balls. It paid off, it paid off for him so, his changeup, for me, has become a plus pitch. He can throw it now to right-handers and left-handers both, and he spots it pretty good.

Combine those three things with having control; you've got to make use of a well-rounded pitcher who can change speeds, throws strikes. I think he needs a little better command; everybody does, of the fastball down in the zone, and better movement on his fastball. He knows how to pitch and mixes and changes speed very well. He's got a good feel for the game, a good feel on the mound. Good arm speed on all of his pitches, and I look for him to do well down the road.

What were your impressions of Omar Gutierrez?

Tom Bradley: He had a couple of good outings up at West Michigan, and then he struggled a little bit. When he keeps his arm up, he's shown an average major league fastball, 90-91-92, but it wasn't always there every time. He needs to work on that.

I think he needs to get in a little better shape. Slider is a little bit slow, but it's effective. The speed differential is pretty great between that and his fastball. He was working on a changeup also. I think he just needs to throw more strikes too. Throw it over the plate, trust his stuff. It's hard when you're not pitching a lot. You go three or four days and you don't get on the mound.

He worked hard on his flat ground. He'd throw off the mound 15 pitches just to try to stay sharp. It's his first year; it is tough going to a full season club. It is not easy after a long college season. I look for him to do well, I think he just has to get a little better breaking ball and command his fastball better. It's not like he's 86-87. He's shown he's got the arm strength. He's kind of got a deceptive delivery too where the hitters don't really see him real well.

It seemed you had to go back to basics with Corey Kluber and he really righted the ship from a tough tour with Lake Elsinore. How were you able to help him while he was with you?

Tom Bradley: Just a better finish for one thing, better follow through. I think at times he's very upright in his follow through and extension. He worked hard on that on side days; a little bit more of a turn when he picks his leg up and kind of goes towards first base with it a little bit.

He pitched very well, and he regained a lot of confidence that he was able to throw his changeup over the plate in fastball counts as opposed to throwing it when it's 0-1 or 1-2. He's got three pretty good pitches. He spots his fastball down very well to right-handed hitters. His slider is good. His changeup came along big time.

I think he was Pitcher of the Week that one week he threw 13 or 14 shutout innings. He had a one-hitter against Lansing for eight innings and was just lights out. We've seen what he can do. He just has to be more consistent and hopefully, I'm sure he'll go to Elsinore next year. Hopefully, he'll get off to a good start there.

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