Padres Prospect Interview: Jerry Sullivan

Eugene, OR: San Diego Padres prospect Jerry Sullivan had an adjustment period when he started work out of the pen. He also learned things about himself during that time that he can take forward into future years.

You have time off and come back in a bullpen role. Did you feel like you were pressing to get that command back when you first came to Eugene?

Jerry Sullivan: I think we all kind of expect it to be there naturally. Coming back is a process and it starts with the small things. Obviously, I was not used to coming out of the bullpen and working every three days. It took getting used to to get the right mentality to get it done. I worked hard on getting the command back.

All of the people I spoke with said you are extremely competitive. Does that hurt you when you are fighting to gain command of your pitches?

Jerry Sullivan: I don't think it is ever bad to be a competitor or over-competitor. It is just how you bring that into focus and work on getting the ball into the glove. Those situations where you get out of touch with your emotions and allowing it in a game need to be flushed out.

You have been working on a two-seam fastball, which is a little bit new for you.

Jerry Sullivan: I worked on it this year and was able to run it in on some right-handers and get it going away to some left-handers to get ground balls and pop ups.

The Padres preach three pitches or less and as a power pitcher how difficult is it to accept that mindset?

Jerry Sullivan: I think the first couple of times out my nerves were running. After time, I was under control. It wasn't about pitching to contact even but narrowing it down on the spot you need to hit and executing your pitch.

How strange was it to come in with inherited runners for the first time in a very long time. What are you thinking?

Jerry Sullivan: It was definitely different. I just try and take it out on the mitt and attack the zone and forget that there are runners on. Obviously, you need to be aware of it if you get the ball so you know what to do with it. If you make it simple, the easier it comes.

You are pitching to your strengths and what made you successful in college. Do you feel different in your approach here and the approach of others?

Jerry Sullivan: I noticed a lot of guys were trying to show their clubs that they can hit so you are getting a lot of big hacks from some guys. It helps me out because it teaches me a lesson every time they swing hard. I am going to throw off-speed or change sides of the plate. It is challenging me to use my mind more to execute a pitch. It has been a learning experience.

You once mentioned that you were a sleeper prospect. Do you still consider yourself to be a sleeper?

Jerry Sullivan: I think I need to concentrate on what I need to do. How other people perceive me is out of my control. The draft has come and gone. This is my job now. I have to make sure I do it well.

While you were pitching, did you look forward to the offseason where you could establish your game plan, rest, and give yourself a fresh look at everything?

Jerry Sullivan: I was two-faced about it. You want to get into the offseason because you know what you are going to work on and get stronger. Once the offseason comes, now you can't wait for the season.

Does it feel like you are pitching inside more now?

Jerry Sullivan: Yes, because of the big swings I was talking about. You get those big swings and run it in on the hands to catch the weak part of the bat. A lot of guys are weak inside, especially in short-season A-ball.

Pitching inside is big for the Padres organization and helps establish command all around. Most pitchers coming up have feared coming inside because they don't want to hit a batter. Now, you have no choice and it is building confidence.

What has the mental game been like for you, especially with a manager like Greg Riddoch?

Jerry Sullivan: I love it. I got a lot of that at Oral Roberts. It was great to come to Eugene and get his experience too. Rid leaked it all out to us. I was very thankful for that.

Has there been an adaptation process for you throwing to new catchers like Jason and Emmanuel?

Jerry Sullivan: I did get a feel for it when we played summer ball. I think you just communicate with the catchers and they will see what you can do. Communication is the key. We are here to get each other better.

What were you working on during bullpen sessions with pitching coach Bronswell Patrick?

Jerry Sullivan: I am happy about pulling out some of my weaknesses and working on them. I was able to take what I worked on and get it going rather quickly because I worked out of the bullpen every third day. It was a little different when I was in the rotation every fifth day. In the bullpen, I was able to work on it at game speed, which is sometimes more effective.

I worked on staying balanced over my front half instead of pulling out and elevating the ball. If I stay closed, my pitchers are better and my mechanics are better. Once I get that to where I can do it with my eyes closed, I will be fine.

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