Padres Prospect Interview: Chris Wilkes

There may be no better pitcher at grasping the San Diego Padres philosophy. Three pitches or less. Induce contact. Go deep into games. Throw first-pitch strikes. "I am looking to make batters put the ball in play," prospect Chris Wilkes said.

The Padres admittedly weren't sure what they were getting in you. Was there added pressure to perform giving the circumstances of your signing?

Chris Wilkes: Nah. The Padres not knowing anything about me made me want to go out and prove I was better than what they thought. They got a steal with me.

You walked just a handful all year – is there such a thing as throwing too many strikes?

Chris Wilkes: I don't think so. As long as I can keep challenging hitters to put the ball in play, thay will just get me out of the inning quicker and allow me to stay in the ball game longer.

You are obviously a big guy. How important is working on a downhill plane to your overall success and what does that allow you to do?

Chris Wilkes: That is something myself and pitching coach Bronswell Patrick talked about a lot, staying downhill. It makes my two-seam fastball that much better and that is what allows me to get those groundballs. I know I don't throw 99 but I will take my groundballs anytime.

Is it a conscious thing for you to stand up a little taller in the delivery?

Chris Wilkes: I honestly don't know. I am learning as I go. I didn't play much baseball in high school so I am learning everything I can now to get better.

How raw are you and how much is there still to learn?

Chris Wilkes: There is a lot to learn. This will be my first full year of baseball. It was usually three or four months playing baseball and then going back to football. I am getting better each and every day.

What made you so successful at keeping runners close and nullifying the running game?

Chris Wilkes: I feel like I am advanced for my age. I can compete with whomever is in the box or on the bases. If you want to try and steal, I will be using my quick step to get you and trust my catcher. Competing is what I love to do.

Many pitchers strive to get ground ball outs but it seemed natural for you. How were you able to get so many balls pounded into the dirt?

Chris Wilkes: I like to go in on batters and challenge them. My changeup also diving down. Using my two-seamer down and in on a righty and my changeup away to the lefties worked at getting those groundballs.

How has the breaking ball come along and what is the key to making it a useful pitch that you trust?

Chris Wilkes: That is usually when I got my strikeouts – using the slider. The groundballs came on the changeup or the two-seam in.

My best pitch is my changeup by far. My two-seamer is good. My slider I need to improve. I am working on that to have three complete pitches. I can throw it for a strike when I want but I need to make it break more.

Is that a change in grips?

Chris Wilkes: That is part of it. I talk to all the players and ask how they hold theirs. The coaches show me how they held theirs. I am soaking up as much knowledge as I can.

I probably do it a few times during a bullpen session to see which one feels better.

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