Padres Prospect Interview: Michael Watt

San Diego Padres prospect Michael Watt grew mentally and physically in 2009. He hopes to bring a renewed attitude to the mound in subsequent seasons.

It was almost a tale of two seasons this year. The first half, you lacked a little bit of confidence but you seemed to regain that in the second half. What was the change and the progression for you?

Michael Watt: I would say the change was the approach to the game. In the first half, I was struggling and really not happy. The thing is I wasn't really changing anything I was doing. I was going out there and giving up hits but didn't really have an answer as to why. Right before the second half was started, I started looking for an answer that would get me better on the mound. It began with preparations between outings and a strong mental mindset.

Was there an added benefit of getting the starting gig back on a regular basis?

Michael Watt: Definitely. It is just something I have been used to – once every five days. When you are starting, you get mentally ready every five days. You begin to get ready at three o'clock because you know in a couple of hours you are going to be on the mound and starting the game. In relief, you are watching the game and if it is going slow – I guess it is a skill you have to acquire. I just don't think I was preparing myself mentally for the outing. I would just start warming up and go out there.

How do you measure the success of a pitch you throw?

Michael Watt: I break it down to if I am mentally thinking positive thoughts about the pitch I am going to make. Physically, I am thinking about keeping my chest up and really dominating the ball down – like on a curveball. I think of those two things. I don't go by the outcome of the pitch. I am doing the key points I am trying to do to come up with the end result. The only time you can work on the end result is between outings. If you are starting and bouncing a curveball over and over, there is not much you can do.

You mentioned the curveball. There seems like there are times when you may get behind in the count and don't feel comfortable throwing it. How important is it for you to set that pitch up?

Michael Watt: It really is important. That is probably the number one thing I have improved on, too, this year – my curveball. My changeup is usually easy for me to throw and easy for me to repeat. The curveball is not at all. What has helped me with the curveball is repeatedly throwing it and throwing it for strikes in all counts. Now I have the changeup that moves away from the hitter, the fastball that moves away and the curveball that moves from up to down.

What was it like to win the Midest League championship?

Michael Watt: It was so unbelievable. I have been in the playoffs since high school, say five straight years. Never in my life have I ever one it all. I have always been on a team that makes the playoffs but never wins. For me, it was something else.

You really end the season on a good note. You are almost always bitter about something – whether you didn't make the playoffs or did make the playoffs and didn't win it all. To win it all and leave with that happy feeling – it really gives you a lot of confidence heading into that next year.

You went out to the Padres Instructional League. What were you working on out there?

Michael Watt: I was working on throwing fastballs inside to lefties and fixing my mechanics, staying closed off more. That is really adding a lot to all my stuff – velocity, movement, my stuff in general is better. I had a problem with opening up all year. I was happy to go out there and fix it.

What will the rest of the offseason be like for you?

Michael Watt: I will go home and take a month off and then really, really focus on preparation for the next season. All year this year, I wasn't real happy with how I put the physical tools I had to use. I want to go into the offseason and get as prepared as I can. It will be mostly mental and I will see how far that can take me.

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