Padres Prospect Interview: Zach Herr

FORT WAYNE, IN: Left-hander Zach Herr, 22, is one of those players that despite experiencing success at every level he's performed at will always have his doubters about how far he will eventually be able to go because of his small stature.

As long as he keeps on performing, it doesn't really matter what anyone thinks. He's earned his opportunities and is going to keep getting the ball until someone shows that they can beat him.

Herr was a 38th-round pick out of the University of Nebraska where he was one of the career leaders in appearances out of the bullpen, striking out 49 batters in 34.1 innings against only 13 walks. His most important statistic as a Cornhusker was that he allowed just 11 of the 27 inherited runners to score in his final year.

In high school, he was first team all-state, led the state in strikeouts and threw a no-hitter.

Despite being only 5-foot-9 and 175 lbs., he has been one of the top relief pitchers this year in the Midwest League, serving as the setup man for closer Brad Brach, another late round draft pick from 2008, who is leading the league and Padres' organization in saves.

You are having a solid season as a setup man. Made the all-star team and are one of the leaders in appearances for a pitcher. What is the biggest reason behind your success?

Zach Herr: I've been throwing a lot of strikes and not walking people. That has been one of my strengths is just going after hitters. Also the team has been playing really well behind me, which makes it a lot of fun.

Can you give us an idea of what you throw?

Zach Herr: Fastball, slider mostly and developing the changeup. I tend to throw more two-seamers and the velocity has been anywhere between 86 and 91.

What was the biggest adjustment that you had to make going from college to the pros?

Zach Herr: Pitching inside and learning the changeup because I just didn't throw it that much in college.

Is the reason you don't throw it much in college is because with the aluminum bats you can really get killed if you miss on it.

Zach Herr: Yeah, pretty sure that goes for everyone.

What has been your biggest success at being able to avoid solid contact?

Zach Herr: Mainly just locating. The key with a fastball is just putting it where you want it to go. Keep changing locations, in and out, and keep the batter guessing.

Since most pitchers don't have a bazooka attached to their arm is the key for you to throw inside and get the batters feet moving so it opens up the outside for you?

Zach Herr: Definitely. Getting them out of the box, moving their feet so they reach for the outside pitch and gets you an easy fly ball.

Being from Nebraska, a cold weather state how much baseball were you able to play compared to other guys from Florida and California?

Zach Herr: Quite a lot, since the time I was five or six. In high school, we would practice inside the gym and come spring time you would get out there whenever you could.

Being a late round guy did you feel any extra pressure to perform?

Zach Herr: Not really. I looked at it as just an opportunity to perform and everyone has to perform or else you won't be here.

What is the one specific thing you are trying to work on as you advance up the ladder?

Zach Herr: I really need to develop the changeup, especially against righties. I've been struggling recently a little against them so I think that is the best way to beat them.

Right now, I really enjoy facing lefties, if I can keep seeing them I'll be ok [laughs].

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