Padres Prospect Interview: Chris Fetter

Eugene, OR: Chris Fetter has had an exceptional start to his professional career. The changes the San Diego Padres prospect is making with his mechanics and slider grip could mean even more success in the future – a promising thought.

The slider grip has been something you have been working on. There is a difference between working on it in the bullpen and taking it into a game.

Chris Fetter: We have been working on it over the last few weeks. I was throwing more of a slurve and trying to manipulate it when I was throwing the ball. We tried a grip that Bronswell had in the pen and it wasn't working so we went back to a grip I was using. I am just trying to throw the ball rather than manipulate it out front.

It has worked well in the pen and then I was warming up before a game and it worked well so we decided to take it into that game. It ended up being a lot better. I was fooling guys and was getting more swings and misses. The last one would sneak in there for a quick strike but this was getting guys to swing and miss.

What is the true barometer for success of a particular pitch?

Chris Fetter: I think if you are able to cause deception and get swings and misses or just get a hitter off-balance. Pitching is getting ahead of a hitter and keeping them off-balance. If you can do that, you are going to have success whether you are throwing 95 or 85. Work with what you have and offset that balance.

You have had a lot of success against right-handed hitters this year. Talk a little bit about that.

Chris Fetter: I think it is something that most righties like to face righties. I don't think about whether I am facing a righty or lefty. It is one of those things where you have success because of the way we throw. The ball is running in on a righty whereas a lefty is seeing a little bit more of the baseball and will have a little more time to figure out the pitch and where he wants to go with it. No matter what level you are at, you will see righties struggle more than lefties – against a righty.

How important is getting that initial out of the inning?

Chris Fetter: The first out is the key out. When those guys get on base, it changes your mindset. You have to not only deal with the guy at the plate but holding guys, being quick to home – there are a lot of other factors that come into play when you don't get that first guy out. The first out is huge. The first strike is huge. You get that first strike, the percentage of getting that guy out go up tremendously.

The first out and first strike are huge. That is taught very well at this organization.

A couple of guys have mentioned that you have tremendous arm speed. Does that mean once the pitching mechanics come together even more that the velocity will go up?

Chris Fetter: Yeah, I think there is room for improvement in the velocity department. I have been hitting 92 to 94 at this level. I know, in college, I hit 95 a couple of times. It is a thing that with continued maturity and filling out my frame – I still have a long ways to go in that aspect – hopefully there is room to go up to 96, 97 or 98. That would be a huge step.

With the height and the arm speed these guys are saying, hopefully that is attainable.

Talk a little bit about the downward plane of your pitches. Given the height and the more three-quarters type delivery I have seen at times, it getting even more downward action something we will see in the future?

Chris Fetter: In college, they had seen me throw over the top and sidearm – I had a couple of sidearm pitches. When I got here, they wanted me to focus on the over the top motion. That downhill plane is something that is huge. It induces ground outs, it changes the hitter's eye level, which is a big key to pitching.

It is something we will keep working on. Right now, I am doing well with it. I am trying to keep the ball down. Hopefully in Instructs and Spring Training, I can keep working on getting a little bit higher so I can get even more of that.

What has the mental side been like coming from Michigan to professional baseball?

Chris Fetter: Mentally, it is just getting used to playing everyday. You are at the field a long time – from two o'clock to 10:30 at night. That is a change. Baseball is a job, your livelihood now. At the same time, you don't have to worry about classes. There is a lot less worry going on. It is playing the game you love.

I have really enjoyed it. It has been a little bit of a change from college. It is a little more laid back on the fundamentals. The PFP (pitchers fielding practice) stuff – there is not as many repetitions but is more focused in a shorter time frame. They expect you to get what you need to get done, do your work and get out of there. Get better each day in a more laid back approach.

You were very good over the first three innings of games before moving to the pen. Is there a warmup routine you have that sets the tone for your outings?

Chris Fetter: At the end of each warmup, I try and throw to three or four batters with the catchers calling the pitches so I can focus mentally on pretending a batter is up there and the catcher is calling the game. Before I get in the game, I feel like I have already faced four batters in a flow. It is a feel thing that I have done since I was little. I have always done that. When we got here and they suggested we do that, it is something I had already been doing. It is my routine. A lot of guys are doing that and it gets you prepared.

Did you feel like you had a tired arm when you got into that fifth inning after all the innings in college?

Chris Fetter: No, there have been a couple of times where I have run into a little bit of bad luck. In Boise, there was the guy with a nice drag bunt that placed it perfectly. Then we had a play at home and it didn't go our way. I am used to throwing 130 pitches every game in college. I think my 75-80 pitch count is not a heavy workload.

It is getting used to the five days instead of seven. It catches up and you have to fight through it. The side work in between starts – I did a little bit of it but not to the extent we do here. That is starting to breakthrough that tired arm. It loosens everything back up and gets you ready for the game.

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