Padres Prospect Interview: Jon Berger

Eugene, OR: Jon Berger was a quick callup from the San Diego Padres rookie league affiliate to the Northwest League. His ability to attack hitters and throw inside has served him well even with the move up. It was when he got to Lake Elsinore that he struggled.

You begin the year in Arizona and then end up in Eugene. What did it mean to you to be promoted?

Jon Berger: I am fortunate. I was having fun in Arizona and got the call to come up. I am still trying to see what the differences are. It is fun to see fans come out.

What do you need to do to continue your success after having a good season in Arizona?

Jon Berger: Throw strikes and let my defense work. I was commanding the zone really well down in Arizona and am trying to keep the same game plan here. Changeup/fastball and strikes down in the zone.

Talk a little bit about your slider.

Jon Berger: It is probably my out pitch, but I am mostly a fastball/changeup guy.

Emmanuel Quiles said that he was impressed with the quality of your pitches. How does the pitch sequencing change for you when throwing to a right-handed hitter versus left-handed hitter?

Jon Berger: On the lefties, I like to bust it inside hard and then go soft away with a good changeup. It is good sometimes to throw to a right-hander because they are not as used to seeing the changeup. My philosophy, however, is bust them in and soft away.

You mentioned attacking left-handers inside. Do you feel like you are doing the same to right-handed hitters?

Jon Berger: We did it a lot in college so I enjoy doing it. With the wood bat, it is a loss less scary. I don't mind it as much. As long as you throw strikes on that inner half. You can't just use the outer half and be afraid.

How have you matured since high school, going to San Diego State and now to professional baseball?

Jon Berger: A lot. I went to a junior college too. It took learning. It is a whole new game with the aluminum bats. I had a good year this year and was able to get the ball rolling. It took a while. I had a good pitching coach down in Arizona too. He helped me refine my mechanics a little more.

What were the changes you had to make?

Jon Berger: I was working too hard, basically. I was throwing everything into my body when throwing a fastball and it wasn't going nearly as hard as it is now. Now, I am just letting it go. Minimal effort is what he was trying to get through to me. It was hard to put that into my mind to do minimal effort but it has been fun.

What was it like working under Tony Gwynn. A huge icon in San Diego but you were there to learn under him.

Jon Berger: He was a consummate professional. He is always about baseball, loves being around it, a hitter's guy. He was professional all of the time, always signing for the fans. I was happy to be around him to see how a professional should act.

Is it a challenge for you to work with new catchers when you first get into the system and then again when you were promoted?

Jon Berger: Definitely. We have meetings about that. We got together and discussed what I liked doing. Usually, we will constantly talk about it. Just like in Arizona, as the game unfolds, you kind of get on the same page. Jhonaldo Pozo and I got to be good friends throughout the game. He is a good kid.

Do you feel like you can take advantage of these hitters since there is no aluminum bat and they are adjusting to the different feel of the wood bat?

Jon Berger: Yes, you can keep the same type of mentality of throwing the ball downhill. Better things happen here with the wood bats. You know you can get away with a few things if you leave a pitch out over the plate. The advantage is finally back to the pitcher.

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