Padres Prospect Interview: Mike DeMark

San Diego Padres prospect Mike DeMark feels his changeup will be the difference this year. Its progression gives him three quality pitches to toy with the opposition.

Let's start with the Arizona ball league experience. What was it like? What did you learn during your time there?

Mike DeMark: There's ton to learn. All those guys there are great to play with. I got to play with Jason Hayward and Chris Heisey from the Reds, a lot of the good guys in and out of the clubhouse. It's an amazing experience to get to meet other guys from different clubs and find out what they're learning, feed off them. Maybe get a little insight in how to get them out later. It's a really cool experience. It's something you never think is going to happen, and then it does and it's really cool to get to be involved in that.

You went up to Portland last year. Was it a little bit different, just that veteran leadership that some of these guys have that they can pass down to you? Those guys have been in the majors and come down to Portland.

Mike DeMark: Definitely, there's a lot of guys up there, and a few guys that are at the end of their careers with the Padres. They're moving on, maybe a little bit older, wanting to spread around some advice to me, whose not so much young, but young in the game. It was good to get to go up there, get a taste of it, and take back what I learned there to San Antonio and hopefully I can help out some of my buddies down there. It's definitely a different environment, as far as older guys, guys who've been there coming down, with a different kind of attitude about everything. In this organization, it's crazy how good those guys actually are, even though they are disheartened about being down there. Coming back and being able to give advice to guys that potentially could take a spot is amazing. I guess that's just baseball and that's how guys are going to be. It's really cool. The Padres have been unbelievable with that, bringing in good guys that will help out, not matter how long they've been playing.

That's pretty cool. Do you feel like there's games you play where hitters are almost setting up pitchers. We always talk about pitchers setting up hitters. Do you ever feel like it gets reversed?

Mike DeMark: Sometimes. Later in the year in the Texas league. You play them so many times. We have scatter reports on them. They have scatter reports on them. Sometimes you feel like they're setting you up, but it's who's going to devise the best plan of attack. The pitching coaches in our organization have given us plenty of information to set them up. It's kind of an interesting concept. You never really know, but you wonder what they are thinking. I'd love to find out.

Is everything about just bringing the walk totals down?

Mike DeMark: Yeah. We talked about it over the off season. Just the Padres organization. Cooch Webby (pitching coach Steve Webber), we just went over what it's going to take to get me to the next level, to help out the big club, and walks came up. We also talked about how we were all fighting to get into the playoffs in San Antonio, and the role that I was in, we weren't necessarily pitching around guys, but we were pitching to our advantage. Like, if a lefty was up, I have a better success against righties, so I'm always thinking of how to make tougher pitches to the lefty, to get to the righty. The walk totals were a bit skewed because of that, but at the same time, I can't be walking 28 plus guys.

Definitely, the walks have been a concern of mine and the Padres. It's just fastball command is pretty much where it lies, because that's my best pitch. I need to throw it in the zone. It is hard to pick up because of my deception.

You mentioned the changeup pitch, the fastball, what about the slider? Does it need to see a little improvement?

Mike DeMark: Honestly, all your pitches can see improvement. The changeup is honestly one of my better pitches. That will open the inside part of the plate. There were times when I was trying to be too fine with that changeup.

The slider needs to be a little tighter. We talked about that, maybe turning it. That way I can open that up toward the backside part of the plate, and that'll make that fastball coming out there ten times harder. There's a lot of directions we can go with that. It's just one of those pitches, you want to try to stay behind and keep trying to make it better, just like any other pitch I would try to master.

How have you matured as a baseball player since coming aboard?

Mike DeMark: Honestly, it's just realizing that being here is a gift. Every day, I'm coming to work, and I'm going to go to work like a regular job. I've been blessed to have the opportunity to stick around a couple years to see how players have made their way out of the organization and to see what kind of players they're looking for. I've also been able to mentally improve and apply myself with hard work and be as dedicated as they know I am. There's no reason I won't make it. When I first came here, I was a thrower. I've progressed now to a pitcher that has three-quality pitches. Along with everything on and off the field, as a pitcher, that's where I've matured the most, I feel.

We all know you have a lot of great teammates and this does not take away from anyone you don't mention. If you could have one pitch from anyone of your teammates to put into your own arsenal, what would it be, from who, and why?

Mike DeMark: Everybody would love to have like a Matt Latos' electrifying fastball. I've got the fastball on my side right now, so I'd probably say a Brandon Gomes splitter. Just watching him over the second half, as he got a pretty good grasp on where that pitch was going to go, it was almost like he'd get strike one and in the bullpen we were thinking, ‘These guys were done. He's just going to throw you two splitters, and I'm sorry, you have no chance.' It's a pitch that he just had an idea and just knows they have no shot. It's one of those "bastard" pitches that you'd just love to have in your repertoire.

Who is the one hitter that you are glad you have as a teammate and why?

Mike DeMark: Mike Baxter is one of those hitters that's going to come and hit .300 every year. He might not play every day, but I hope he's not DH'ing. As far as Big League level, Kyle Blanks. He's just incredible to watch on TV, and think I played with him in Lake Elsinore. I'm glad he's on our side, because anybody that can run and swing like that, it's nice to have them on your side.

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