Padres Prospect Interview: Miles Mikolas

Eugene, OR: San Diego Padres prospect Miles Mikolas struggled in his first year professionally. The better competition in the minor league baseball has made him focused on becoming a pitcher rather than a thrower.

You came out of Nova Southeastern, which is a small school. Did you feel like you got the coaching you needed there to be successful in the professional ranks?

Miles Mikolas: It is a small school that is on its way up. It had the coaching to get me to where I am now and the coaching here will take me to the next level.

Do you almost consider yourself a little bit raw in that sense since you are coming from a smaller school?

Miles Mikolas: I guess so in that sense. My pitching coach at school was good. He was big on fundamentals. I have a solid foundation and now can get the upper level training here.

You were a guy that threw a lot of strikes and didn't walk that many in college. Is there such a thing as too many strikes?

Miles Mikolas: I think so, yeah. At a certain point – at school I overmatched hitters. It was a Division II school and they weren't used to seeing my kind of stuff. If I had pitched in the ACC I would have had to work more away from the plate. In the league I was in, if I was down in the count, sometimes I could throw it right over the plate. Some of the hitters weren't very good and were overmatched. I wasn't forced to throw a lot of pitches outside of the zone.

Coming out to the Northwest League, what were the differences you noted?

Miles Mikolas: The strike zone was a little bit smaller. If it is a strike, the hitters are going to put it in play. If it is too good of a strike, they are going to put it in play pretty hard. You have to work more on the sides of the plate, up and down, and hit your spots better.

What do you feel like you need to improve upon?

Miles Mikolas: Just throwing more strikes down in the zone. In college, a lot of guys couldn't catch up to a high fastball. Here they can. That is a ball they hit well. You have to work down in the zone and get more ground balls. Work the inside and outside halves of the plate.

What pitch are you working on most in bullpen sessions?

Miles Mikolas: The main pitch I am working on is the changeup. My curveball has always been my out pitch. I am always working on that too. I am working on throwing the curveball for strikes. In college, it was more of a chase pitch – burying it. Now, I need to learn to throw it for a strike because a lot of hitters won't necessarily chase that pitch like they did in college.

What about the changeup has to improve?

Miles Mikolas: A better feel for it. I don't have that great of a feel for it – and as a feel pitch you have to get your own comfort level with it. I work on that a lot and its location to keep it down in the zone. A high changeup is about as bad as any pitch you could throw.

What has been the maturation process from high school through college till now

Miles Mikolas: In high school, I wasn't really looked at as a prospect for this level or to go anywhere in the draft. I wasn't very good. I was just good enough to get a small scholarship at a small school. I worked my way up from there. I worked hard every summer and fall to get ready for the spring and matured a lot from high school. I put on a lot of weight and with the weight and work each offseason has come more velocity. I have better focus and learn a lot more about the game each day.

Left-handed hitters had success off you this year. Is there something you can pinpoint that shows why?

Miles Mikolas: A lot of lefties kind of slap the ball. You go at them with the softer stuff and they are able to put the ball in play well against me. The changeup is good against lefties and that is the pitch I need to work on. You hang the changeup and they can slap it. I need to get it down so it is on the ground.

Is there a comfort level for you out of the windup versus the stretch? You have been very good out of the windup and struggled some out of the stretch.

Miles Mikolas: That is one of the things we have worked on a lot. Out of the stretch, I tend to drift towards the plate instead of loading while I am back. When I get out of the stretch, I drift and leave balls up in the zone. Those are the balls that get hit around. One of the things I am working on is getting a better load from the stretch with a little leg kick instead of the slide step.

What are the challenges of throwing perhaps more than you ever did in college?

Miles Mikolas: It is tough right now. In college, you pitch on a Friday and get seven days. Here you get five days and throw a lot more in between. I feel like I am just getting used to it. Throwing in a game and then throwing a bullpen and then another bullpen – my arm felt a little tired. In my last few starts, my arm felt better.

Do you feel like you are throwing inside enough? Perhaps with the metal bats in college, it is tougher to throw inside.

Miles Mikolas: We were big on throwing inside in college, especially with two strikes when a hitter was just looking to put something in play – looking for something outside to slap at. We would go inside a lot. I am fairly used to pitching inside and have a two-seam fastball that I get some run on.

You mentioned some of the routines with two bullpens between starts. Do you adjust your own warmup session before a game as well?

Miles Mikolas: At first, when I was coming out of the bullpen was difficult for me. I hadn't worked out of the bullpen in – well – never. It was hard for me to get used to warming up quick. When I start, I usually go through the same routine. I light toss a lot before I let loose and then get on the mound and go from there.

Editor's note: Mikolas is pronounced 'Michaelas'.

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