Padres Prospect Interview: Brad Brach

FORT WAYNE, IN: When interviewing Brach Brach, 23, the organization and Midwest League leader in saves, the first thought that comes to mind is not what the reasons behind his success, what he throws, his background...etc.

But thank god for tape recorders.

Brach talks as he pitches, fast.

He was the two-time conference pitcher of the year at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. According to his bio at the university website, Brach is the all-time leader in wins at Monmouth, earning 29 victories, also holds the top spot on the all-time strikeout list with 277.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Brach has good size for a pitcher, but doesn't have the plus fastball, which along with being a four-year player is not the ticket for a high draft pick.

As with quite a few polished college pitchers with control, Brach has shown he can compete at all the levels he has been put at. In the Arizona League last year, he struck out 33 in 21.1 innings against only five walks and this year is a Midwest All-Star this year and one of the big reasons for the TinCaps success.

To top it off, Brach was just named the best reliever prospect in the Midwest League, as voted on by the league managers.

You are leading the organization and Midwest League in saves. What are the reasons for your success this year?

Brad Brach: I don't know, just going after hitters and being aggressive. Maybe the pace that I work, but I really haven't changed that much from the past two years.

You were a starter in college and had very good success there. What made the Padres decide to put you in the pen?

Brad Brach: I'm not really sure. When I went out to Arizona last year they told me that I was going to be somewhere in the middle and then they were going to move me to a starter. Instead they started to move me back. I was in the seventh and eighth inning and by the end of the year I was the closer.

Your catchers say you are someone with a lot of energy. So is being the closer a good fit for someone with your makeup?

Brad Brach: [laughs] Yeah, it keeps you focused more because you know there is a chance you could pitch everyday. By the seventh and eighth inning, you are really locked in because you know your time could be coming up.

Despite the pressure is it easier being the closer because you know exactly what situation you will be coming in?

Brad Brach: I like that. It is as much as having a routine as a relief pitcher as you can get. If you are up by three runs or less, you know you are coming in, as opposed to a middle relief pitcher when you really don't know when you will be in there.

Do you have any kind of interesting routines or quirks like some closers - sixth inning you go stretch, seventh inning you brush your teeth...

Brad Brach: No, just about the seventh or eighth inning I stretch, just get ready to go, nothing crazy.

What do you throw?

Brad Brach: Fastball, slider and splitter and a few changes. I throw a four-seam fastball, but mainly just sliders and splitters.

How do you get away with not throwing a two-seam fastball and a changeup in the Padres organization?

Brad Brach: [laughs] Yeah, I know. I guess since I have been effective they have left me alone.

Your catcher, Robert Lara, said a big reason for your success has been the ability to put the ball wherever you want.

Brad Brach: That is what I have always been successful at, being able to spot my fastball. If I can't do that, I'm going to be in trouble.

Everyone always says that you have to be able to throw strikes, which is true but you also want to make sure that the ball doesn't come back quicker than it went in. Where do you try to put your fastball?

Brad Brach: Usually I'm in the lower half of the strike zone on both sides. If we are up by two or three runs I try to cut the plate off into halves, if its by one run I go for thirds of the plate. I don't want to get behind hitters.

I mainly work, as I said, with sliders and splitters. If I'm up 0-2, I like going with the four-seam fastball on the outer half of the plate because they really aren't looking for that pitch.

What is your best pitch?

Brad Brach: Probably the fastball and being able to spot it. I am getting there with the splitter and slider.

As a closer, they tell you that you need two good pitches, and for me it the fastball and either the splitter/slider. I had a pretty good changeup in college, and threw a good one the other day, but its not quite there yet.

As a closer when you don't perform it costs the team the game. How do you bounce back from a bad outing?

Brad Brach: It happened to me early in the season and for me the best thing was to get right back out there. It was the first one that I've blown as a closer, but I was lucky to get an opportunity the next day and got the save.

Its never good to fail, but it was good to see how I learned and reacted from it.

What is the biggest thing you are working on to improve as you move up?

Brad Brach: My secondary pitches. I want to get more consistent with my slider and splitter and being able to put them where I want them.

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