Padres Prospect Interview: Bryan Oland

LAKE ELSINORE, CA: In 2007, Bryan Oland, 24, was a 22-year-old rookie in the Arizona League with a 6.30 ERA; which, for anyone, is not a good situation.

The Padres saw something in the 6-foot-3 right-hander out of Orange County and sent him to Fort Wayne in 2008, where he proceeded to go 4-1 with an 0.88 ERA, striking out 64 batters in 51 innings against only eight walks, as he formed a devastating combination with closer Jackson Quezada.

This year, with Quezada out, he's the Storm's closer where he made the All-Star team and is second in saves in the organization and in the Cal League.

What happened?

In short, Oland took the long journey most successful relief pitchers take, a circuitous one.

You were in the running for the Pitcher of the Year at Madfriars, so you obviously had a pretty good year. This year you are performing even better. What are the reasons behind your continued success?

Bryan Oland: Just trying to keep on doing what I did last year. Getting my fastball over for strikes to set up throwing my changeup. My changeup breaks down; so its either ground ball or swing and miss. In the Cal League, you have to keep the ball down or you will get hurt very quickly.

Your fastball comes in around 91 to 93 is that correct?

Bryan Oland: Yeah at times, but its been down a little this year from last. I didn't get out to Fort Wayne until the middle of May and it only really started to get up there towards the end of the year. It's getting better and should be where I want it soon.

How is the movement?

Bryan Oland: I'm throwing my two-seam a little different this year, it has some more movement away from lefties. I'll throw that when I'm trying to get a ground ball. A righty, I'll throw more of a straight two-seamer that isn't moving as much.

What breaking pitch do you throw?

Bryan Oland: I throw a slider which I throw to righties more than a changeup. A slider is a pitch that you tend to get soft contact instead of hard. Its more of an off-speed pitch for me.

Coach Lezcano talks about your changeup is more of a combination splitter/change, its more like a spike pitch that really dives.

Bryan Oland: Instead of throwing a regular split with two fingers on it, I use three for a little more control so I can throw it in the zone, rather than split that was just bouncing and not really effective.

With Jackson Quezada out as the closer, have you noticed any difference or is it just the same, go in get people out.

Bryan Oland: Last year, I pitched the eighth inning and that is a save situation. I have to get three or less outs and not let them tie the game up so we can get to Jackson. This year its just the same thing only with no one behind me.

Could you give us a little bit of background on you. You're from a small school, 24th round pick; so you have had to really earn everything.

Bryan Oland: I was kind of disappointed at where I went. I thought I had a really good year at Sonoma State. I thought it was more of a question of my arm because I had Tommy John surgery in college, sat out a year, then I didn't pitch much the next and then the last year I pitched well. So there were some questions about how well I would hold up.

So many guys in this organization have had this procedure, it seems like you get your strength back your first year and your feel comes back a little slower.

Bryan Oland: I came back after only eight months, but my velocity was way down. I felt fine, but it just wasn't there. After I took some time off, then my velocity came back.

So it basically took a year plus, of working out, building up and getting into games. It doesn't come back just throwing bullpens.

I always thought middle relief is the toughest assignments. You come in with one out in the seventh, runners and first and third, one run game, and you have to get an out. You were a starter in college how did you get used to this role?

Bryan Oland: College is different, I used to be really poor in the first inning, so that had to change a little moving to the bullpen. That first year they put me in the pen and I got used to going out there everyday and throw my one inning and get my outs. The AZL helped get me used to being in the bullpen and doing what I needed to do. Keeping my arm in shape and throwing everyday.

How different is it mentally? As a starter its once every five days, but as a closer might be in nearly everyday?

Bryan Oland: I like it as a set-up man or closer because you know in the eighth or ninth, three runs or less you are in the game. Middle relief is harder because you have three or four guys, but you don't know who will be going in. To me, I really enjoy the set schedule because I'm in the bullpen reading their swings, so when my turn comes up I know who I am facing and what I am going to try to do.

What do you need to do to work on moving up?

Bryan Oland: Keep my arm in shape, that is how you move up in this organization. I'm trying to stay healthy so if someone goes down I am ready to step up.

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