Name: Josh Geer
DOB: June 2, 1983
Fond of stating the two-inch variance that dictates success versus failure, Geer is a master of working on the positive side of the margin.
Selected in the third-round in 2005, Geer made it to full season ball during his debut season, making five starts in Fort Wayne.
In 2006, Geer split his time between Low-A and High-A, going 13-6 across 26 starts.
The following season, the Rice alumnus went 17-6 split between Double-A and Triple-A, earning MadFriars.com Player of the Year honors. He was also named Texas League Pitcher of the Year for his 16-6mark with a 3.20 ERA in San Antonio.
By the end of 2007, Geer had amassed a 34-14 record with a 3.69 ERA across 64 starts and five different levels within the Padres system.
A workhorse that averaged over six innings per start, his biggest challenge stood in front of him – the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.
His ability to go deep into games prevailed, as the right-hander tossed 166.2 innings across 28 games, including 27 starts. He ended the year with an 8-9 record and a 4.54 ERA – his first losing season in the system. He allowed 187 hits and was taken deep 22 times but also led the system in double play grounders with 20.
He held right-handed hitters to a .244 average while lefties managed to hit .326 off him.
"I think it's more of a mental thing with him," Portland pitching coach Glenn Abbott said of Geer's struggles against left-handed hitters. "As I say that, he might be the best pitcher we had, as far as the mental makeup, of the young guys. He doesn't let things bother him."
Geer was brought up to San Diego late in the year and appeared in five games, going 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA across 27 innings of work. An elbow strain in late September ended his season prematurely.
"What I like is his composure," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's thinking clearly. He knows what he has. He's pitching, not throwing."
"I think that when we start talking about these young pitchers we're going to be talking about how experienced hitters - experienced hitters with major league experience – are setting pitchers up to get certain pitches and certain counts in certain situations, educated guesses," Portland manager Randy Ready said. "And those guys were doing some damage when they got those pitches. And that's the difference between locating and hitting your spots where the guys are trying to sit on what you're trying to throw anyways. So, that's probably the biggest difference maker or separator. Josh pitched in the big leagues and did well."
Throwing 64.9 percent of his pitches for strikes sets the tone for each at-bat. He works ahead and plays off his two-seam fastball. The heater sits in the high-80s and can touch 90. It is the spotting of the pitch that is essential to his game.
"He can go out there and give it up and fix it and make adjustments in that game and end up giving you five or six, seven good innings," Abbott said. "He can have a lot of trouble early. He shouldn't have trouble with it, but he does, at times."
Geer is predominately a sinking fastball pitcher. He works both corners effectively and stays low in the zone. He is not afraid to come inside to both lefties and righties. That sets up the outside portion of the plate.
He keeps hitters guessing by moving the ball around the zone and will go high on purpose. When his two-seamer flattens out, it means trouble, as witnessed by the 68 extra base hits he surrendered with Portland. He also tosses a four-seam fastball that has rising action.
His goal is to keep a players feet moving around in the box – not knowing where the next pitch will come.
"It's huge, it's huge," Padres roving pitching coordinator Mike Couchee said of the importance of getting a hitter's feet moving. "Obviously, we talk about the fastball down and away, having command of that, being able to throw that pitch eight out of 10 times or nine out of 10 times when you have to because that's the toughest pitch to do anything with. But, if that's all you do, then they're going to start cheating you and they're going to start leaning and all of a sudden now, you're losing its effect. To be able to move some guys' feet and keep them honest and throw inside when you need to throw inside, that's a huge part of what Josh has to do and most of our guys have to do."
Geer ditched his curveball in favor of a cutter – a pitch that moves into left-handed hitters and away from righties. It has more movement down and away and has some slider like tendencies – thus he favors throwing it to a right-handed hitter. Changing speeds gets hitters to pound this offering into the ground.
The Texas native also features a changeup that he introduces to left-handed hitters more frequently and shows to a right-hander to get them thinking about the pitch. It has solid movement down in the zone and causes hitters to top the ball.
An astute player that takes the mental part very seriously, Geer takes note of how players react to pitch sequencing when he is on the bench. He is looking for any insight that can make him more successful – if a player likes to dive out over the plate, he will pitch him in, or if a hitter is pulling off the ball, Geer drives the ball to the outside corner.
He keeps runners close and has a quality pickoff move. Working quickly, he has a solid time to home plate to assist his catchers.
"It was a small window of opportunity for him, but he has pitched well," Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said of Geer's exposure in San Diego. "If you can conquer pitching in the PCL, which Josh did, then pitching at PETCO is gravy. The big leagues are all about minimizing the bad, and Josh is one of those guys that can minimize damage."
Conclusion: The health of his throwing elbow will be a key factor in what the 2009 season holds. If healthy, he is the frontrunner for the fifth spot in the rotation. Geer proved he knows how to pitch and can mess with the timing of the opposition.
Geer won't overwhelm many with his arsenal, but he has the smarts and attitude to be successful. He doesn't like being beat and is very competitive. If his cutter can make further strides and his changeup reacts well, Geer is a solid back end of the rotation starter. There will be times, however, where he will be frustratingly ineffective – similar to how Brian Lawrence was.
Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards