Padres Prospect Interview: Rafeal Arias

There were some who questioned whether San Diego Padres pitching prospect Rafeal Arias was ready for his stateside debut. Many wanted to send him back to the Dominican Republic for more seasoning. The Padres are glad they kept him in Arizona – he shined in one of the toughest environments as the team's closer.

Talk about the pitches you throw and the speeds you throw them at.

Rafeal Arias: I throw a fastball at 95 mph, a slider that comes in at 83-85 and a changeup that is 85 and sometimes a little bit too hard.

When you first came to extended spring training, you had some struggles but when the season began, you found a lot of success. What changed?

Rafeal Arias: When I came to extended, I had a difficult time because it was my first time being in the United States and couldn't control my nerves. I had a difficult time controlling my emotions and those nerves. Once the league started, I realized it is the same game I played in the Dominican. I started to get more comfortable and just worried about playing baseball and not the nerves of being here.

You were placed into the closer's role. What kind of mentality do you have to have to pitch in that role?

Rafeal Arias: Being a closer is a very tough job. You have to be mentally strong. You get put into situations as the closer where you might come in with the bases loaded – it is equally important to throw strikes right from the start. You don't have the luxury of putting guys on. The main thing is being mentally strong.

Was the main reason for your success being able to limit your walks?

Rafeal Arias: The key was throwing strikes. It sounds so simple.

You came out to the Padres instructional league. What was the goal?

Rafeal Arias: The changeup. I need to work on the movement and velocity of my changeup. It was too firm during the season. I am trying to maintain it at 83 to 85 mph now to have success.

Do you feel like you need to add weight and more muscle to last a full season?

Rafeal Arias: I definitely need to keep working on improving my strength so I can maintain my velocity through a whole season.

What are your memories of baseball growing up in the Dominican Republic?

Rafeal Arias: By my house, I had a baseball park that I always played at. I would watch the guys and say, ‘I always wanted to be a major league player.' It is the same thing right now. I want to practice, play, get better and be a major leaguer.

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