Bradley on Padres pitching prospects

Fort Wayne, IN: Pitching coach Tom Bradley has led the Fort Wayne TinCaps staff to the second best ERA in the 14-team Midwest League and the best record in all of baseball behind a team that leads the circuit in shutouts and strikeouts while issuing the second fewest walks. It has been a good year for the San Diego Padres affiliate.

The starting pitching, the relief corps – everything seems to be working on all cylinders here in Fort Wayne. It really seems like they are feeding off each other. Is that a fair assessment?

Tom Bradley: I think that whenever a club has success – whether it be position players doing well – there is that part of every other player that wants to do as well as his teammate. That certainly applies to pitching.

We have had a very good year. Players have responded. And this is the first full year for most of these guys. They have really responded to the Padres philosophy and what we are trying to accomplish so they can move up the ranks and one day pitch in the big leagues.

We have had seven or eight starters through the year and five or six releivers – they have all done well for us.

You guys are 41-0 when leading after the eighth. How nice is it to have guys like Brad Brach and Zach Herr at the back end closing up shop?

Tom Bradley: I think sometimes we take it for granted when guys are so successful. We got a taste of it last year too with Bryan Oland and Jackson Quezada. If we had a lead, we felt pretty good.

The same thing has happened this year. Zach and Brad have really had tremendous outings and have been lights out. It is a good feeling to know that if we scratch one across and take a lead late, we have a pretty good chance to win. They have pitched very well for us. Both made the All-Star team. Both got in the game.

The Padres – we usually have our seventh, eighth, and ninth inning guys will lead the league in appearances. (Eric) Gonzalez, Herr and Brach were all up there – with Gonzalez going to Lake Elsinore. We follow the Padres relief card – the rules we try and use – and it has worked out – both have been very good for us.

You had Nick Schmidt before he moved up during the All-Star break. It is tough to get a gauge on a player right after having Tommy John surgery and he isn't that long away from when the surgery happened.

Tom Bradley: He has come alomng nicely. They say it takes 15-18 months to get back to where he was where the arm strength is 100 percent. He is making steady progress.

First off, he has a great idea on how to pitch. Before the surgery he was anywhere from 89-92 with his velocity and had a good breaking ball and good changeup. He had a pretty good feel for pitching. He worked inside to right-handers, attacked the zone and had a good idea on how to sequence pitches.

Now it is all about getting his arm back to 100 percent. I think he is really going to show the Padres and their fans what he is capable of doing.

Anthony Bass made the All-Star team and has been about as cnsistent as you could want.

Tom Bradley: Yes he has. He got off to a great start. He had a couple of games where he probably threw a few more sliders than we would like. He has always had a good changeup so we had a talk with him. Since he has started throwing it more, he has pitched very well. He has three good pitches. He got the win in the All-Star game. He is a bright young man with a very good future in front of him.

Simon Castro – it is all about the development of the changeup and it seems to have made progress.

Tom Bradley: I was with Simon in extended for a bit in 2007 and he didn't have near the command then that he has now. The other pitching coaches in our organization – Razor and Bronswell Patrick – have done a great job with him in helping him repeat his delivery and being around the zone. His walks are down and he is third or fourth in the league in strikeouts. He is a joy to coach.

The changeup is the pitch that he has to better develop. You will see signs where he throws two or three really good ones – sequences two or three really good ones – and then will throw a couple that are too hard.

It is a very, very tough pitch to learn how to throw. The rewards are tremendous. I think by him watching Bass and Schmidt – guys who have good changeups, he is coming around.

When he stays on top of the baseball, he has dymanite, electric stuff. It is only a matter of time before he starts moving up. He has a great future in front of him.

Did you – meaning the Padres – move his arm slot a little to make him more over the top?

Tom Bradley: We wanted him to be on top because he has a tendency when his body gets in front of his arm, he rushes, and his arm slot drops to three-quarters. That is when the ball goes arm side high. He misses up and in to a right-handed hitter. He has to shorten his feet – just keep his feet closer together – to be in better balance. He can keep his arm slot up so he can get that downward action.

He is working a little bit on a two-seam fastball. Obviously, the most important part is to have fastball command. That is number one. That is with the four-seam fastball. As guys get a little bit older and move to the next level, they will start throwing the two-seamer to get a little more movement. They have to have command of the fastball – and to be able to pitch on the outer third of the plate.

Two guys acquired in the Greg Maddux trade – Michael Watt and Eduardo Perez – what are your impressions of them?

Tom Bradley: Watt has very good stuff.His two-seam has very good run and sink. His breaking ball is good when he throws it properly. Sometimes he has a tendency to get under it a little bit. His changeup is very good also.

He is anywhere from 87 to 89 and will likely pick up juice when he gets older and stronger. His mechanics will get out of whack but overall he has been able to repeat his delivery pretty well. I think he has a bright future. He is young, left-handed, throws strikes, is around the plate and that is a plus. He will be fine.

He has been a spot starter but is back in the starting rotation. With regular work and bullpen work, that will give him more confidence and allow him to repeat his delivery. He has good stuff.

Eduardo joined us in late April – we have seen glimpses of what he can do. He has to pitch down in the zone. He is not an overpowering kind of pitcher but has a very good breaking ball and changeup. It is a matter of fastball command. He had a game against South Bend where he has 12 up and 12 down. He spotted his fastball down and threw his changeup and breaking ball over the plate. He pitched ahead. Fun to watch. That is what he has to do with fastball command.

Nick Schumacher has been a pleasant surprise for me. Based on his stuff, and I don't want to get into the numbers game, it was shocking he was in extended given the kind of stuff he showed during my trip here.

Tom Bradley: He has taken the ball and run with it. He hasn't had a bad outing. He has been consistent from day one. He has terrific pitches. He has a little bit of funky deception in his delivery and I don't think the hitters see the ball very well. His fastball has good run and he touched 92 the other day. He is anywhere from 88 to 92 and throws a cutter. He also has a slider and a changeup. He probably has too many pitches to be a reliever. He has been very good.

Stiven Osuna seemed to find some confidence in the starting role. I am not sure that was the case when he was moved into the bullpen. He had such a good year last year – coming in and getting banged around a little after skipping a level had to give him a shot.

Tom Bradley: It is a good point. Instead of going to Eugene, Osuna jumped to Low-A and the hitters are better, they are more experienced, they have been around the block. You can't get away with pitches up in the zone. His fastball – he was elevating it. His offspeed pitches were fine.

Sometimes his head gets outside his lead leg, which causes him to spin off and his arm to drag and his ball goes up in the zone.

Again – it is about fastball command and pitching down in the zone. He has the offspeed, there is no question about it. Now, he has to trust his fastball.

The whole point of not getting off to a good start – then questioning, ‘Am I good enough? Is my stuff good enough?' That is what you don't want to happen. We try and give them as much confidence in the side work that we do so when they cross the lines they can transfer over.

How good have the combination of Adam Zornes and Robert Lara been to the staff?

Tom Bradley: I think they both have done a good job. They are really calling good games. Sometimes pitchers will tell you that I don't like throwing to a particular catcher. That has not been the case, which is a good sign. I think all of our pitchers are comfortable with how Robert and Zornes handle them.

They talk to the pitchers between innings, saying, ‘Maybe we should try this next time we face that hitter.' That has been a welcome development. They have gotten better at play calling. It is a vital part of your club – how the pitcher/catcher relationship is. You have to be in sync. I tip my hat to both of them.

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