Padres Prospect Interview: Al Angelucci

As a converted outfielder, San Diego Padres prospect Al Angelucci screams potential. In the last year, his velocity has jumped significantly, and he spent the offseason mastering his changeup.

As a converted outfielder, what have the challenges been regarding your move to the mound?

Al Angelucci: I don't know if there are that many challenges. It's kind of different mentally. I guess, I'm better as a pitcher, because as a hitter, I got kind of a bit angry at myself and as a pitcher, I don't really have a chance to bring my game down by getting angry at myself. As a pitcher, you got the ball in your hand, there's no outside sources that you can blame. Everything's on you so I guess, I've adapted to that really well.

When you first got on the hill, the Padres were thrilled with the progress you made in a short period of time. How do you feel the transition has gone.

Al Angelucci: I feel I've progressed a lot actually. From my first game of rookie ball until now, I feel like I can pretty much step from rookie ball to the big leagues. That's what it feels like to me.

I've progressed a lot. I can throw my fastball where I want it. I've just in the off-season established a changeup I am happy with. My curveball's a bit sketchy, but it's still got some good break to it. Hopefully I can get that working just as good as my changeup. But you never know. At the classic, I brought up my velocity a lot. I've thrown like 94 mph there – up from 92 over here.

Is there something specific you want to work on when you do your bullpen sessions with live hitters in the box?

Al Angelucci: Mainly I want to work on my curveball, but I didn't get many chances to do it. I threw a lot of changeups trying to get the ball out over the plate a little more because I was leaving it just before the plate; still it had some good break to it. Fastball command was a big thing, kind of inside outside of the plate it didn't really matter where it was I just wanted to get it on the inside or the outside, and that was good. I hit one of the batters. I didn't mean to do that. He was just standing in there.

You went to the World Baseball Classic. What kind of experience was that for you, and did they give you a gauge of maybe where you're at because some of the best players of the world are there?

Al Angelucci: That was one of the best things I've ever done in my whole life. It was the closest thing to the big leagues I'll get to for a little while. We got treated really well. It's kind of the better you get treated, the better you step up and play at. The first three hitters I had were Adrian Gonzalez, Jorge Cantu, and another big-leaguer and I got out of that. So I feel like I can compete at a big league level. I know I'm not ready for it, but I feel like I can kind of use my stuff to its best ability and still get away with it.

You were throwing at around 88-91 mph this past year and the Padres, specifically Randy Smith, mentioned there was more in the tank. Were you surprised by it?

Al Angelucci: The classic was the first time I started to use my legs so that's probably what Randy was talking about. Bronswell (Patrick) was talking about it as well. Last season, he was trying to make me use my legs all season. I kind of figured it out a little bit, just make sure I got out far enough to try to use my legs a bit more. I think that's what he was talking about having more in the tank by using my legs a bit. I still got plenty more in the tank, because I'm still using my arm a lot. There's still more of the stress on my arm. But I think I could go higher than that.

You probably walked more than you wanted to last year. How can you bring those totals down in the coming year?

Al Angelucci: Just stop thinking the guys are going to hit me around. If I'm just going to throw the strikes they're just going to get themselves out. Seven out of 10 times they're going to get themselves out. Last year, I was just trying to pitch around them, that was just kind of scared that that was going to hurt me a little bit. But I shouldn't be scared of that. I should just kind of trust my stuff. Just throw strikes. The first-pitch strikes are a big thing for me especially, because if I get ahead I can just use my changeup and those guys are just going to swing.

One thing the Padres were impressed with was your curveball and your ability to throw it with a tight spin. How do you get the changeup at the level your curveball has been?

Al Angelucci: Release point is a big thing, that's the main thing, I mean getting out in front. I feel like when I throw my curveball, I'm sort of out the side. That's why I switch out every now and again. Making sure I have my timing with my legs as well when I have my curveball. But getting out in front is a big thing.

So mechanically do you still fell like you need to make those refinements?

Al Angelucci: I was just speaking to coach about my leg kick. I feel like my leg kick is not very consistent. So I've got to figure out some sort of consistency in my leg kick and hopefully that will just sort of bring all of my mechanics together. I mean even in classic I could feel that my leg kick wasn't that consistent. But if I get that together and I get my take away, and my arm circle consistent than I think that I could throw the ball anywhere that I want it every time.

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