Padres Pitching Coordinator: Mike Couchee

Eugene, OR: San Diego Padres minor league pitching coordinator Mike Couchee sets the plan for every pitching prospect in the system. All change goes through him and he has a pulse on the entire system. Couchee, who has been with the Padres for quite a few years, is more excited about the system than every before.

You have gotten a chance to come out and see the new draftees in Eugene several times with minicamp and a second trip about a month afterwards. What are some of your impressions of these kids?

Mike Couchee: I am very impressed – even going back to minicamp – with the command of these guys. I think the numbers have played out that way. The walks have been down for this level.

I like the size of these kids. Chris Fetter is a big kid. Jerry Sullivan is a big kid. Miles Mikolas is big. There is a lot to like out here.

Before coming to Eugene, you were in Arizona during late July. Was there anyone in particular that impressed you out there?

Mike Couchee: Jon Berger. He is a kid that stuck out down there. He was a little bit more advanced, had a little better plan and was a little more mature than what you would normally have out there. He knows how to pitch, has a very good changeup, and does all the things you generally don't see out of a first year guy.

How bout some of the Latin American players that have come up to Arizona – some who may have spent two or three years in the Dominican Summer League and are getting their chance now in the US?

Mike Couchee: For me, the one I was most pleasantly surprised with was Simon Berroa. I had seen him throw a little bit when he was rehabbing in extended while coming back from injury.

Even in his own words, he was a little hesitant and scared to let it go again. I had a chance to see him go in a couple of games, and I thought the same thing as I watched him prepare for his games that he was afraid to let it go. As soon as he got in there, he was coming out firing again. The command is not where it is going to be. After a year and a half, that is what you expect. He really jumped out.

Rafeal Arias – we have him down there closing. He has been throwing 94 to 95 to 96 and is throwing it throwing it over the plate. He has a nasty slider.

Those two kids are the most pleasant surprises.

Has anyone not met expectations – perhaps you saw a little more in spring?

Mike Couchee: Early in the year I didn't see what we had hoped we would see from Rob Musgrave. The stuff wasn't quite as crisp as we had hoped it would be. The mentality didn't look like he was into it. It played out over the first part of the year when he was in the rotation. He came out of the rotation and has pitched much better. He is pitching himself back into games. We are hoping to see more of that.

How is Drew Miller coming along?

Mike Couchee: Drew is doing fine. He is out in Peoria. Things are coming along fine. There are no setbacks with the rehab. I talked to him and he is frustrated. To know you will be dealing with this for at least 12 months and probably 24 is real frustrating. He is handling himself well and getting his work done.

I have no reason to think he won't come back better than before.

Jackson Quezada has been a little bit of a mystery. I haven't seen him since spring training.

Mike Couchee: He came into big league camp and I am not sure threw an inning there. I have seen him on the mound a few times where we thought we got it fixed and over the hump, but it seems to be setback after setback.

I don't know if he will need surgery. I don't know how many trials we go through with the rehab process and cortisone injections and all that type of stuff before we opt for surgery. It has been frustrating for him as well.

Steve Garrison is on the mound again and seems to be regaining that confidence now.

Mike Couchee: He has had good outings. I saw him pitch in two games. The first one was what I expected and the second one was better than I expected. He went into his stage where he had a dead arm and bounced back. I was pleased with what I saw. The breaking stuff, which is typically the last thing to come, was better than I expected it to be. For him being the type of command guy that he is, even that was better than I thought.

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