Padres Prospect Interview: Tyson Bagley

PEORIA, AZ-- Changing San Diego Padres prospect Tyson Bagley has been the main agenda heading into 2009. No longer is he the pitcher that tries to throw the rock through the wall. He has settled down and likes what he sess.

You have been a max-effort type of pitcher but are trying to make changes to be smoother and more efficient. What changes need to happen to allow that to happen?

Tyson Bagley: This spring training has been going pretty well with that, I've learned to take some steps down and relax and not worry about how hard I throw, but worry about where it's going, worry about the command of the fast ball instead of how hard it's coming. So it's been going well.

What are the benefits from moving away from the max-effort persona?

Tyson Bagley: The first day I threw to live hitters, I think that's probably the best I felt playing as a Padre as far as not being max-effort, trying to command the fastball down in the zone; the changeup and slider felt really good.

Is the ironic thing that the velocity is still there?

Tyson Bagley: You know what? I think that is pretty ironic. Razor (pitching coach Dave Rajsich) pointed that out, and I couldn't believe it. He said the balls coming out a lot better than when you were trying to throw max-effort. That's a bonus right there because now I've got a little bit of command there too. It feels good.

What does it mean to calm down? What are you doing to make that happen?

Tyson Bagley: For me, I'm trying to think before every pitch. I take a deep breath, relax my whole body and think about what I have to do for me. That's keeping my head down after I throw the ball, and worry about finishing that pitch down low, keeping it easy and letting the arm just work and do itself.

You had a lot of success against left-handed hitters last year. Why were you able to be so successful against them? How can you establish that same success against right-handers?

Tyson Bagley: I couldn't really tell you why. The success with left-handers is maybe the fact that I'm falling off the rubber to that side might have something to do with it, or maybe the ball is running a little bit out or something. As far as righties go, that's something that I have to keep working on and get that success going as well.

Is there a particular pitch that you think is going to be critical to that?

Tyson Bagley: The changeup is going to be the most important thing for me. I was more comfortable throwing my changeup to left-handers because I wasn't worried about that ball running back in and hitting the guy, like I was with a right-handed batter. So the changeup is going to be a big important pitch for me as far as right-handed batters are concerned.

Saying the changeup is one thing having confidence is another. How do you develop that confidence?

Tyson Bagley: I think, for me, it's just keep throwing it, throwing it, flat grounds, playing catch with it in the bullpen, in the games, in the intrasquads, and just getting a good feel for that pitch. It's a feel pitch for me and obviously with the big hands I got it's a tough pitch for me to throw. So just keep throwing it and working on it and I know it will eventually come.

Razor mentioned that you picked up the changeup pretty quickly. How difficult is that pitch to master and how will it aid you?

Tyson Bagley: I've shown spurts of really having command of it, and there are other times where I throw it out there and I don't know where it's going. But I picked it up quicker than I thought I was going to. I had never thrown it up until I got to pro-ball. But it's something that I'm going to keep working on.

You probably walked a few more than you would have liked last year. How can you bring the walk totals down in the coming season?

Tyson Bagley: Staying relaxed. Not worrying about how hard I'm throwing, worrying about getting guys out with a ground ball instead of striking everybody out. That's my biggest thing.

Is it easier said than done?

Tyson Bagley: Yes sir it is.

You made a few spot starts last year. What was that like and what is your preference moving forward?

Tyson Bagley: That was an adjustment coming from college, where I was a reliever and a late inning guy in the bullpen. The first few starts were ok, and the last three, I started thinking about it and physically psyching myself up too much before each start. So there were some adjustments going on as far as coming out of the bullpen and going to a starter. Obviously, I feel comfortable doing the bullpen. But I would do anything they wanted me to do.

Is there a different pitch count in the warm up session? For instance, as a starter you feel like you have to throw 25 pitches where as a reliever you only throw 15?

Tyson Bagley: Absolutely. As a starter, as far as warming up goes, I was so worried about throwing every pitch and trying to…Ok I got to go to the fifth inning. I have to get my pitch count down, whereas as a reliever I just go out there, set the catcher up with a glove, and throw that sucker.

What kinds of lessons do you take away from your first professional?

Tyson Bagley: I learned real quickly that fastball velocity means nothing in pro-ball. Everybody can hit fastballs. Everybody throws 90-plus. The biggest thing for me is getting some movement on my fastball, command the ball down the zone and throwing a changeup.

So is that going to the two-seam fastball a little bit more?

Tyson Bagley: You know what? I've been working on that in the offseason relaxing my wrists even with the four-seam grip. I've been getting a little bit of late life on my fastball. I'm still throwing with a four-seam grip so that's been working out really well.

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