Padres Prospect Interview: Wynn Pelzer

Lake Eslinore, CA: Wynn Pelzer had a breakout season in 2008, proving the San Diego Padres right for taking a chance on him in the previous draft. The right-hander is looking to build on that success this season – starting with those pesky left-handed hitters.

What did Allan Dykstra say to you about that liner he hit you with in the Cape?

Wynn Pelzer: I started messing with him because I went up to Elsinore and saw him. I called him ‘Bonecrusher'. It is nothing he can do about it. It happens.

Did you tell him one was coming high and tight?

Wynn Pelzer: I mess with him. When they had the hitter's camp in spring training and were tracking pitches, I told him to stand in and he didn't want any part of that.

You had a lot of success against righties. What allowed you to have so much success against them?

Wynn Pelzer: Mainly because I am a fastball/slider guy. I have pretty good fastball command and am comfortable throwing the slider wherever I feel like. That gives me an advantage against them.

I have to work against lefties – that is something I need to improve upon. The changeup is something that gives them a different look and the change of speeds basically to get them off my fastball.

The changeup was a new pitch for you after shelving the split. How has it progressed and what kind of confidence do you have in it now?

Wynn Pelzer: I was really comfortable with the split coming out of college, but the changeup has gotten better over the last year. I am feeling comfortable with it. I did a lot of work with it in the offseason. It is getting there. I am getting to the point where I can throw it to lefties anytime.

The opposition saw some success in stealing bases off you in the past. How can you improve in that area?

Wynn Pelzer: In Fort Wayne, they wanted us to work on one delivery, focusing on the hitter, making better pitches. As the year went on, I think I improved in varying looks, holding the ball – there is different stuff we can do. The main goal is to give the catchers a chance. You don't have to be the fastest guy but give the catchers a chance. Our catchers have great arms.

Do you worry about going too fast to the plate where it messes up the location of your pitches?

Wynn Pelzer: Yes, that is one of the things they worry about. You get too quick because you are thinking about the runner and the quality of your pitches suffer. They would rather you throw good, quality pitches rather than worrying about the runner. They note that a lot of runners that steal a base don't even score. Worry about the batter. It is a double-edged sword.

You were on a pretty strict pitch count in 2008 and it resulted in some shorter starts. Were you tired at the end of last season?

Wynn Pelzer: Actually, the pitch count is a good thing. It makes you economical out there. You can't go out and try and strike everyone out. It makes you work towards the three pitches or less mantra they preach. It helped me a lot last year to go deeper into games without using that much energy.

This year, I have more pitches and am hoping to get into the eighth inning a couple of times to see what my stamina is like.

You had a lot of success with runners on base. What changes regarding your approach when men are on the bases?

Wynn Pelzer: You take pride as a pitcher in not giving up runs – limit the damage as much as possible. I feel like as silly as I am in between games, when I get on the mound I get serious.

When you get guys on second and third, you have to bear down. During the course of a game, you might be in that situation three or four times. If you give up runs every time, you are not going to win a lot of ball games. You have to keep the damage to a minimum.

You have to pitch to situations. If you know you have one out and a runner on third – you might have to go for the strikeout. If you have two outs, you just try and make a quality pitch so they don't make good contact. You kind of focus a little more with runners on base and in scoring position.

The staff believes your personality opened up last year as the year went on. What changed that made your personality show up more?

Wynn Pelzer: Basically, I didn't know anybody. I cam to instructs after the knee injury and once you meet everyone you become more comfortable. That is all it was. I was the same way in school. I played with James Darnell and he will tell you the same thing. Once you get comfortable, you tend to open up a little more.

The Padres felt you had a dynamic professional debut. When you hear that, how does it make you feel?

Wynn Pelzer: I felt good about my season. It was good that they thought I did well and took notice of it, but I am still working on improving – the changeup, holding runners like you said, making better pitches, fastball command. You always have to get better.

Did you move from the four-seam to the two-seam fastball as well?

Wynn Pelzer: I actually want to start throwing the four-seam more because I am 95 percent two-seam. When I try and go into lefties, I think that is one of the things that gets me in trouble. I am throwing so many two-seamers and it runs back over the plate, which is why I get hit by so many lefties. Now, when I go in, I am working on the four-seam inside.

It is actually easier in college because with the bigger seams I could cut a ball into them. I have to make that adjustment. When I had so much success with the two-seamer last year, I kind of got happy with it. I am trying to mix in more four-seamers to vary what the hitter is seeing.

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