Padres Prospect Interview: Nick Schumacher

Fort Wayne, IN: Last year, it was Bryan Oland who burst on the scene with a spectacular season after beginning the year in extended. This season, Nick Schumacher is doing his best to continue the trend.

You began the year in extended. When you begin the season in extended after spending time in Eugene a year ago, how tough was that mentally?

Nick Schumacher: It was pretty rough. I was disappointed when I found out I was staying there.

The first day I got there, I decided to look to see what I could do better. That first day I began to work on a cutter and it got a little better, a little better and by midway through extended it was a pretty good pitch. It is just another tool in my repertoire today.

You come out to Fort Wayne and that has to be viewed as a promotion. How did that feel to know the work you put in showed?

Nick Schumacher: Even in spring training, I was pitching well. I was waiting for the chance to get up here. They kept telling me that as soon as someone goes down with injury or starts performing bad I would come up.

I got lucky, and when I got up here, I decided I had to make the most of this opportunity.

How does the stuff compare this season compared to last when you came off a long college season and were in Eugene?

Nick Schumacher: This year I have a lot more command over all my pitches. My stuff is about the same. I am throwing a little harder. I do have the cutter now, which makes my ball move both ways.

One of the pitches you wanted to improve upon last year was the slider. Have you accomplished that?

Nick Schumacher: My slider has gotten a little bit better. It is still a work in progress. It is my fourth pitch right now. I still use it every once and a while.

What do you think is going to take your game to the next level?

Nick Schumacher: I am trying to work on velocity right now. I am trying to gain a little bit of weight and move up the ladder on velocity. Other than that, keep the location. Try not to walk guys.

Last year, the changeup was a go to pitch. Having talked so much about the cutter – is the changeup still the pitch?

Nick Schumacher: The changeup is still there. I still go to it in a jam when a hitter thinks fastball is coming. That is still my best pitch, I would say.

How does the cutter differentiate from what you have been doing?

Nick Schumacher: I will throw it first-pitch to righties and then use it to finish a lefty off. It is not a lot of movement but misses the barrel, which is what it is supposed to do. I have gotten a lot of ground balls and most have come on the cutter.

When you are working on a new pitch, how often do you go and change the grip?

Nick Schumacher: When I was in extended, I worked on it a ton. I moved around two or three times before finding one that just started working. Ever since then, I kept doing what I needed to do to improve it.

You haven't walked many this season. Is there such a thing as too many strikes?

Nick Schumacher: In my case, I don't think so. My ball moves a lot in the zone. Sometimes if I am behind, I will throw one right down the middle and let it move. I don't know if I can throw too many strikes.

You have been given a responsibility in Fort Wayne to come in during tight games and are often on the mound when it is tied to keep it that way.

Nick Schumacher: Right now, I am the middle innings guy that will come in when the game is tied or we are down or up one late. My job is to get the ball to Zach Herr and Brad Brach.

Has that been a confidence boost as well, knowing you are the guy they want to go to when the game is close?

Nick Schumacher: It is a big confidence boost. When I first got here, I was one of the long inning guys. I think I proved myself by getting people out and they promoted me to the middle innings when Gonzo (Eric Gonzalez) left. I took over his role.

I don't plan on giving it back anytime soon.

How nice is to have a starting staff that has been dominant all season long and a back end with Herr and Brach to close things out, as you mentioned earlier?

Nick Schumacher: It is great. Everyone feeds off everyone else in the locker room. We have great camaraderie. It makes life easy.

It is a big competition. We are all friends but we all want each other's job and we don't want to give up the jobs we have.

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