Padres Prospect Interview: Brad Brach

Fort Wayne, IN: San Diego Padres prospect Brad Brach talks as fast as he finishes games. The Fort Wayne TinCaps closer has been as good as any pitcher in the system and is a big reason behind the best record in all of baseball.

One of the things that has been impressive is your ability to get the leadoff hitter out. How important is it as a closer to set the tone for the inning?

Brad Brach: In the ninth inning, any rally they are going to get is going to start with the leadoff hitter. My focus is to go right after the leadoff hitter with my best stuff. I don't want him to get on base because that is when the rally starts.

As a closer, is there a different mentality for you? You worked a little earlier in the game last season before taking over the role for Colin Lynch.

Brad Brach: A little bit. I try and keep the same aggressiveness, but as a closer, I think you have to have just that little bit extra. Go out there with a cutthroat attitude. Go after them and make them hit your best stuff. If they can't you are going to get a win that day. It is a good thing to be aggressive and attack the hitters.

You told me last year that you have five ptiches and would be happy if you had 10 – provided you could throw them all for strikes. Do you still believe that?

Brad Brach: I have learned more that you can't have as many pitches. You have to cut it down and find your two best pitches that day and go with it. Right now, I have a four-seam fastball, slider and splitter. That is basically what I have been going with this whole season. I throw the changeup every once and a while. You have to find your best two pitches and go with them. You don't have time to mess around.

Is there a specific pitch that seems to be there more than any other?

Brad Brach: My fastball has been there all year and my sldier has come along pretty well. I am pretty happy with the development of that. I have been fastball/slider all year and the splitter has come along in the second half.

Your arm slot is slightly off-center from being over the top, which makes it strange that you have a slider and split since the split would be better from an over the top guy and the slider probably more effective from three-quarters.

Brad Brach: I always thought I was over the top. Robert Lara tells me it is more three-quarters. It is tough to pick up my ball. Whatever I am, it is working. Hopefully I can keep doing that.

Talk about Adam Zornes and Lara – how big has it been for the pitching staff as a whole to know you have these two guys back there calling solid games and on the same page as you?

Brad Brach: Tremendous – especially with two strikes where we all have the confidence to throw any pitch we want. It is huge. Even with a guy on third base, if there is a pitch you want to throw with two strikes, you can throw it because you know it is not going to get by.

Those two are tremendous behind the plate. It is always great to have guys who will block the ball and sacrifice their body.

Are you telling me you are looking to throw it in the dirt with two strikes and a man on third?

Brad Brach: Yeah – I have been doing it till this point and will continue to do so because I have that confidence in them blocking the ball.

Only twice this season have you given up more than one hit in an outing. That is pretty impressive. When I think about that it tells me a few things – you are eliminating the big inning, you are not distracted when someone reaches base. Talk about that continued focus.

Brad Brach: I didn't know that. Even if I am coming into the game in a non-save situation, I want the game to end as quick as possible. I want a quick three outs. If the leadoff hitter gets on, I forget about him and try and get a ground ball to turn that double play. If not, just keep going after the hitter and try and make them hit my best pitch. I am not going to worry about a hit here or there. I am going to stay focused on the hitter and forget about everything else. I am looking to close the door as quickly as possible.

Is there a different way you are attacking righties versus lefties. Neither has much success off you.

Brad Brach: Not really. I feel a little more comfortable right now throwing my splitter to lefties. The slider is a little bit better to righties. Besides that, it is pretty much the same.

You have worked more than one inning several times this year. Maybe you don't know you are going to get that second inning. Is there a different approach where you don't blow it all out in that first inning?

Brad Brach: I try and do the first inning like I would any other time and then reset my mind focus once again. I go back into the dugout and try and get refocused. I concentrate on the next inning I have to go back out there.

Usually it is a tie game when I go back out. They tell me when I get in the dugout so I know. It is good to know so I can get my mind focused.

When you see Zach Herr on the mound in the eighth – is it an automatic for you to start preparing yourself mentally, especially since he has been so good at being the bridge?

Brad Brach: Exactly. As soon as I see him, I know he is going to get the job done so I need to be ready to go.

It has to be pretty comforting to know that you don't have to get up, get the adrenaline going, only to sit back down and then get up and try to get the focus again.

Brad Brach: My goal was if I wasn't going to be a starter to be a closer because it is more of a defined role. You know exactly when you are going to be in the game and when you are not going to be. It is not like other roles where you may or may not go in. If you are up – three runs or less – you are in the game so be ready. I can get into somewhat of a routine.

What needs to happen to take your game to the next level and make it to Lake Elsinore and beyond?

Brad Brach: Have a better second half. My goal is to have a better second half than first half and continue the work on my splitter. I feel like the fastball and slider are there right now. The splitter is on its way and getting close. I want to get it to be an out pitch.

The Padres are big on the changeup – how tough of a fight is it to get to throw that splitter?

Brad Brach: TB (pitching coach Tom Bradley) has been great. He says there is no need to have four pitches. The changeup really hasn't been there this year. He wants me to keep working on the splitter, saying it will come. Right now, I am saving it for when we are up three runs instead of up one. This year, I hit a batter when I should have been throwing fastballs with the splitter. It is a learning process.

They have been happy with it so they really haven't said too much.

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