Padres Prospect Interview: Nick Greenwood

Eugene, OR: There is little that San Diego Padres prospect Nick Greenwood didn't accomplish in his first professional season. He proved he could work as a starter and out of the bullpen, adjusting quickly and continuing his mastery of the opposition.

You have a little bit of deception in your delivery. Was that something that was intentional and how did you develop it?

Nick Greenwood: It absolutely was not intentional. It actually was a bad mechanics thing. I was a big soccer player when I was growing up. I had more soccer offers than baseball, actually. I was never able to get a pitching coach and just had my delivery. It was much worse than it is now. As I got to college, they tweaked a couple of things. All in all, it helps me rather than hurts me.

What made you choose baseball over soccer. What went into that decision?

Nick Greenwood: The plan was to actually go play two sports there. I signed originally for baseball. The reason is right now – where I am now. There was a brighter future in baseball than soccer. I can't beat what I am doing right now. I made a great choice.

How key is that first out in an inning?

Nick Greenwood: It is either going to make or break your inning. You get that first guy and are feeling good about yourself. When the first guy gets on, you can get a little bit flustered. It helps the pitcher our tremendously.

You have been very good with runners in scoring position and limiting the big inning. How have you been able to accomplish that and I have to believe part of that is mental.

Nick Greenwood: Absolutely. You have to take it personal – every guy that scores. Even giving up one run – take it personal to kind of bear down and limit the big inning. The more you can do that, the more success you can have. That is one of the main reasons I have had success.

As a left-hander, you have enjoyed more success against left-handers. How do you enjoy the same kind of success against right-handers?

Nick Greenwood: I am able to throw my two-seamer inside or out whenever I want and my changeup keeps them off-balance. Being able to rock them and get them guessing on a pitch only benefits me. Being able to have three pitches definitely helps.

You have had a number of double play grounders. Do you almost say that in your mind that ‘this is the time I get the grounder I need.'

Nick Greenwood: A guy gets on base with less than two outs – that has to be the mentality. Instead of going after the guy and trying to strike this guy out, you mine as well get that double play. It is a pitcher's best friend. Being able to pitch smart, staying down in the zone and letting my sinker run – that is what does it.

When we originally spoke, you mentioned a cutter you were working on. How has that progressed and is it something you are taking into games?

Nick Greenwood: Not too much. It is more a hard slider and a loopy curveball to right-handers. It is a harder slider so it not too much of a cutter and more of a slider because the cutter is harder.

How do you view the success of your own pitches?

Nick Greenwood: Being able to throw strikes and you have to be able to work on something new everyday. Whether it is throwing with your changeup grip on flat ground or your two-seamer. You can look at a different pitch. If I can get a cutter down, that is great. It only helps me out. Right now, I am not going to use it. That is what bullpens are for. As I get more comfortable with it, maybe I will use it more.

Is there something in games that tells you this pitch is more effective today?

Nick Greenwood: You see it on the swings of guys. ‘I didn't throw that one well and it still made the guy look kind of silly.' You know then it is working pretty well. If you are able to throw it over whenever you want and you know you could bounce it, that helps you. If it feels good out of the hand and making hitters look silly – you know you have it.

It seems like hitters haven't been able to get good wood off you in general. Have you talked to anyone who is seeing this and asked about what they see?

Nick Greenwood: I haven't really since I haven't thrown to any of our players. I don't really know too many players who are playing for other teams. Being able to spot up. You throw 92 and straight, it is going to get hit. If I stay at my 86 to 89 and get my movement, it is hard to hit. Everyone says they would rather see straight than movement no matter how hard it is.

What is the mental mindset for you coming in from college into professional ball?

Nick Greenwood: To be honest with you, Skip (Greg Riddoch) said the first day that this is a lot like college because it is a college league. Having him tell me that, I think of it as the same. It is a little better because you have the best from each school or other countries but you have to go in with the mentality that ‘my stuff is better than you.' You never have that self-doubt creep in where you aren't comfortable.

Did he also say that the hitters would be learning the wood bat and this is your time to challenge them since they are still learning and your stuff stays the same?

Nick Greenwood: Absolutely. It is a big difference between metal and wood. I guarantee some of these ground balls would have gone through for a couple of more hits. It is what it is. It definitely comes off the bat harder. Being able to pitch inside, you don't have to worry about these little dunkers with the metal bat. You take pride in breaking bats. It is a good feeling for a pitcher. When you break that bat, you know you got in there.

One thing that Riddoch said after one of your games is, ‘This is a tool for me to use as a teaching point for the rest of the staff.' There was a game where you got 16 ground balls in a game. Four ended up as hits but it will take a lot of ground balls for a run to score. When you hear something like that how does it make you feel?

Nick Greenwood: It is definitely a great feeling. Only up until about a year ago – I didn't have a two-seamer. In summer ball coming into my junior year, I developed it. I saw the advantage of it last year in college and in Eugene. Work everyday and stay down in the zone and let hitters get themselves out.

Like Rid said, ground balls can't hurt you. You need three or four ground balls to get one run whereas one swing can get you three runs.

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