Padres Prospect Interview: Jeremy McBryde

LAKE ElSINORE, CA: The 2006 MLB draft was the last year of the "draft-and-follow", a process where a team could select a player and still retain the rights to sign him a week before the next year's draft. This process allowed a team to control the rights of a high school or junior college player and determine if they were worth the money that they were asking based on what they saw that season.

In 2006, the Padres selected the big right-handed pitcher Mat Latos in the 11th-round, the teams' top prospect but also drafted Jeremy McBryde, out of Rose State College (JC) in Midwest City, Oklahoma in the 26th-round. In the coming years, Padres fans may look at this draft as the one that gave them two spots in the major league rotation.

The 6-foot-2, 235 -pound McBryde is a load. He throws a hard low-90s sinker that has been compared to trying to hit a bowling ball, a very good slider and a developing changeup. Last year, in Fort Wayne he struck out 158 batters in 136.2 innings, but also allowed 151 hits. The good news is that he was much better in the second half than the first in Fort Wayne, as he began to change speeds and become more of a pitcher than a thrower.

The gains he made in the Midwest League appear to be transitioning to Lake Elsinore. In his first two-plus months of the season with a 6-3 record and 3.44 ERA. He's still striking out tons of batters and not walking anyone, 76/18, but he's mixing his pitches better than he ever has which has caused a big decrease in hits with 59.

Last year, you had some of the more interesting statistics that most people have seen. You had an incredible strikeout to base-on-balls ratio, but you gave up quite a few hits per innings pitched. The second half you stepped it up. What was the big reason behind this?

Jeremy McBryde: The big thing was using my changeup more. The first half it really wasn't working for me, so I pretty much stayed fastball and slider. I was getting outs with my slider, but I really didn't have a third pitch. In the second half I had it and it gave the batters something else to think about.

Was the big advantage of throwing your changeup not allowing the batters to sit as hard and forcing them to deal with different speeds? Your velocity is around the low-90s right?

Jeremy McBryde: That is about right. The changeup keeps them guessing and just forces them to think about another pitch. Then changeup also made it easier for me to set up my slider.

What finally clicked with your changeup in the second half?

Jeremy McBryde: I just didn't throw it enough. I jut kept throwing it more, playing catch with it everyday and it finally came around. It finally got to where it could be useful to me. Its still not where I would want it, but its getting there.

What do you mean when you say that its not there. Is it that you can't throw it for strikes or it doesn't go where you want it to go?

Jeremy McBryde: Most of the time I'm not getting it over for a strike. When you get ahead, it's a good time to throw it. At the beginning of last year, I couldn't throw it for a strike at all, but like I said before, just throwing it more gave me more control of it so I can throw it for a strike whenever I want too.

What is the biggest difference between what you are seeing in this league as compared to the Midwest? When I come out here it seems that quite a few balls can get out of here pretty quick?

Jeremy McBryde: I know that already, I gave up a few home runs already. When I have struggled up here, it was mainly because I wasn't pitching inside. If you leave it over the plate here and don't pitch inside, you are going to run into some problems.

Is it a tough adjustment mentally to get used to pitching inside after playing in college with aluminum bats?

Jeremy McBryde: It is always fun to see a broken bat or to watch them shake their hands after an inside pitch. It is much easier throwing inside with the wooden bats than the aluminum, they just can't do as much with it.

You were drafted by the Padres a few times. What finally made you decide to sign with the team instead of going to Oklahoma State?

Jeremy McBryde: I always wanted to go to Oklahoma State, I had always dreamed of going there. It was tough to turn down the full ride, but on the last night to sign they gave me enough money to go.

I didn't think I would improve that much more going to Oklahoma State and was just ready to go.

Your seem to have not only picked up where you left off in the second half of the Midwest League, but are putting up better numbers than you ever have. Isn't the competition supposed to be better at this level or have you improved that much?

Jeremy McBryde: It's kind of easier coming into your second full season, you know what you have to improve upon and how to do it. What to expect and what you need to do to be successful. I have to use my changeup more and hit my spots. I've had a few bad outings, but so far it seems to be working.

You're 5-1, with very good K/BB ratios and hits to innings pitched. You haven't had that many bad outings.

Jeremy McBryde: One of the outings in San Jose – they just beat me, which was tough to take because I had my best stuff. In one start in Inland [Empire] I wasn't hitting my spots and they made me pay with 10 hits in five innings.

When I have seen you pitch it seems like your fastball has a naturally heavy sink. Is that something you have worked on or is it just God-given?

Jeremy McBryde: Somewhat. I do throw a sinker fairly often with my two-seamer, but I can't throw it consistently for a strike as often as I would like too. So I guess some of it is just God-given.

What do you notice is the biggest difference in pitching on the collegiate level, because you threw in a pretty good JC league, and the pros, other than the players are better? Is it tough getting used to coming out here everyday?

Jeremy McBryde: No I love doing that, even though I only pitch every fifth day. I would rather do this than wake up every morning for one of those early classes. I was not a school type of guy. In JC you can get away with the bottom part of the order, you can't do that here.

What is the next thing you are going to do to work your way up the ladder?

Jeremy McBryde: Mainly just spotting my pitches a little better and going deeper into games. I like the strikeouts, I'm a strikeout kind of guy, but that is not going to cut it. I got to get my pitch count down so I can go deeper into games.

In must be a big relief to have the Padres off of your back since you are throwing the changeup more.

Jeremy McBryde: Yeah [big sigh and a slow smile]. As long as it keeps coming, I'm going to throw it more.

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