Mike Couchee on Padres prospects

San Diego Padres minor league pitching coordinator Mike Couchee goes up and down the system to aid prospects. We caught up with him to discuss Mat Latos, Will Inman, Wade LeBlanc, Wynn Pelzer, Drew Miller, Steve Garrison, and Anthony Bass.

Mat Latos certainly had a setback with the oblique injury but how has the changeup come along for the young man?

Mike Couchee: It has. His last few outings in Peoria before he left and then his few starts we had up in Eugene have been really good. He's really picked it up. He had a bunch of different pitches that he was throwing and we just tried to minimize it down to the three, the fastball, slider & changeup. He's come along real good.

Hopefully, him seeing that success, because like you said, those last three or four outings here have been phenomenal for him, will push him even further.

Mike Couchee: Absolutely, absolutely. Hopefully a little fine tuning, and he'll be ready to go come next spring.

Will Inman seemed to have a lot of walks this year after not showing that in the Milwaukee system. Was that a matter of him wanting a strikeout so much that he began to nibble?

Mike Couchee: I think it was a combination of a couple of things. I think it was what you just said, trying to pitch for the strikeouts; the second part of it, he kind of floated around with his arm angle this year. It started relatively high when he came in the spring and then, the next thing you know, it was really low and then we just tried to get it into a spot where he was more comfortable and more natural with it. That had a lot to do with it. He had a number of different arm slots that he was throwing with this year and that came into play with his command.

Wade LeBlanc did a lot of work this year on adjusting how he pitches and pitch sequencing as hitters sat on his changeup. How important is that to his success?

Mike Couchee: It's the final piece of the puzzle. The stuff's good enough. I don't know if you got to see him pitch in San Diego. The command wasn't where it usually is and can be, but the fact that just learning sequences, learning how to read hitters' swings, read hitters' approaches, all of that stuff's going to be the final piece of the puzzle for him.

Wynn Pelzer didn't pitch last year and had a slow start this year before really turning it on. How has his changeup come along since he abandoned the split?

Mike Couchee: This kid, he's probably the biggest pleasant surprise for me personally of all the guys this whole summer. With his lack of innings in the past, his lack of pitching experience, he was pretty raw when we got him. To see where he came from and where he got to from spring training to the end of the year to me was phenomenal. This kid, his stuff is obviously very good. He's got the aptitude, desire; he's got the right approach. This kid's something special.

Drew Miller scuffled this season in the California League. Was that a matter of hitting too much of the plate for him?

Mike Couchee: I think so. I think he's one of the kids that has concentrated so much on the changeup because he never really had one. It was always 88 miles an hour. Last year, he learned when to throw it, but it was always too hard and it kind of fed into the bat speed for the hitters. He gave up a lot of homers off it. To me, this year, I think he spent so much concentration on that that working both sides of the plate kind of, I don't want to say, fell to the side, but it was secondary to what the main goal was for him this year, which was to develop a changeup and take a little something off it and he did. It's become a very good pitch for him.

Steve Garrison, elbow injury aside, had a great year. What makes him so good?

Mike Couchee: Very simple, repeatable delivery, doesn't get too up, doesn't get too down. He's got as good a command as any starting pitcher we've got in the system. You watch him pitch and the stuff doesn't overwhelm you. Unlike Drew, he throws a lot of balls over the heart of the plate. Very seldom do you see this kid miss with a pitch over the plate.

Anthony Bass is given a new role as the closer in Eugene and will end up starting again next season – what impressions did he leave on you?

Mike Couchee: Yeah, I liked him. I like his size, I like his arm. I only saw him pitch a couple of innings, but he was one of the more advanced kids for me. If you saw our box scores typically when we had a chance to win a game, he and (Rob) Musgrave were in there at the end to try to close it out. I think he's got a chance to be a good one.

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