Padres Prospect Interview: Nick Greenwood

San Diego Padres prospect Nick Greenwood has a simple plan for 2010 – be as consistent as he was in his first professional season. In his mind, it is all about preparation.

What was the Fort Wayne experience, along with the playoffs, like for you last season?

Nick Greenwood: It was a great experience, just getting the honor to move up and joining a team that was honestly the best team I have ever played for, defensively, hitting, team camaraderie – everyone was together and rooted for each other. That can seem hard in the minor leagues when we are all trying for the same spot and there are only a limited amount of spots.

The playoff experience was amazing – the park, the atmosphere, playing in front of a packed stadium. Falling behind in the series and being able to come back and win the championship. Like Dougie (Dascenzo) said, ‘Polled all the coaches. Over 400 years and in total they only had 40 championships.'

I got one year and one under my belt. Let's see if we can do 2-for-2.

We spoke about this in Eugene. Hitters just don't seem to get good wood off you. Can you explain it?

Nick Greenwood: It's hard. I like it. It helps me out. Being able to spot the fastball, and if you have a good sinker, which I am still developing. It is a good pitch for me, but if you ask every hitter, ‘what would you rather face, 95 and straight or 88-89 with sink?' They say, '95 and straight all day.' You never know where it is going to go. Sometimes it is luck and sometimes it is good pitches.

Hopefully, we can repeat the year. You don't want to have a consistent year followed by an inconsistent year.

As a former shortstop, how does that experience help you?

Nick Greenwood: Pitchers are the most athletic people on the field! It helps in knowing the game, whose going to cover, where they are going to be positioned. I would say it is one of the hardest positions on the field, excluding pitcher!

You try and think in their shoes. If I am trying to get a double play ball, I will think about where he is going to be and locate it to take advantage.

You have been a guy that has attacked hitters on a regular basis. Is there such a thing as too many strikes?

Nick Greenwood: There could be, at times. If a team has a good scouting report on you and knows you throw a lot of fastballs, sinkers in my case, they could be jumping early. If you throw too many…

If I am ahead 0-1, I have the advantage. If they can get good wood early on..there is more value to throwing strikes than the negatives, though.

What has been the evolution of the funky delivery?

Nick Greenwood: I played more soccer than baseball. I never had a pitching coach or any lessons. Over the years, it developed wrong habit after wrong habit. That's where it came from. I did well in college and the coach said he didn't want to change too much. When I got here, they basically said the same thing. They tweaked me a little but it is working.

You said tweaked a little, what kind of adjustments have you made?

Nick Greenwood: Trying not to fly open. It seems like on my curveball, I drop my shoulder more and kind of fly open quick. Just on the curveball. The sinker, you want to get on top of it, but they are afraid if I go too high it might straighten it out. If I go too low, I won't be able to control it. It is mainly on my curveball to control it better and throw strikes with it on an 0-0 count.

What has been the curveball progression for you?

Nick Greenwood: It's coming. It's funny, in college, the curveball was my best pitch. Coming out here, I don't know if it was the metal bats, the wood bats, what, but my changeup has been really effective and there are times where the curveball is just not there. Throw the curveball more consistently for strikes. Knowing where to put it when I am ahead in the count. Eventually, where I want to be is throwing a 2-1 curveball or a 3-1 curveball and just having the confidence to do that. Repeating my delivery and making everything better.

There has been talk that you profile as a potential reliever. Obviously, you are a starter today. Do you think about the potential future and wouldn't it be nice to get ready for that role now?

Nick Greenwood: Last year, I had a pretty good experience coming out of the bullpen and think I did a pretty good job. It definitely is a different mindset. You don't know if you are going to throw that day. As opposed to starting, you have your preparation and then it is your start day.

As for being a reliever in the future, I am not opposed to that at all. If that is what is going to help me make it to my goal, so be it. If that is the plan for me, that is the plan for me. I can't control it. A lot of starters are mid-90s. That is not my pitching style. I am effective against lefties. I can come in and pitch an inning to a tough lefty.

One of the things that former Padres farm director Grady Fuson said was ‘you have an ability to read a hitter's swing.' What does that mean?

Nick Greenwood: It is doing your homework. This guy has 10 home runs but 50 strikeouts. You know there is going to be a hole in his swing somewhere. You get to see it in batting practice or in the game. If I throw a curveball and he looks awful, I know he is probably susceptible to off-speed stuff. It is about doing your homework. You have to know who walks a lot, who strikes out a lot. If a hitter is hitting for average, that means they put the ball in play a lot so you have to be careful with those guys.

Guys that walk a lot but don't have much power? My philosophy is put the ball in play. I have eight defenders behind me. I am going to take my odds. I am not worried about it going out of the ballpark. If he does hit it – good for him?

What is the crafty lefty stigma?

Nick Greenwood: I hear it everyday. It is basically having a funky delivery, having deception, and being able to get lefties out any way possible. If you can get them out with any pitch, that is a crafty lefty. A guy who doesn't throw hard, like me. I don't throw hard but I am not a soft lefty. I have a good curveball, a good changeup. Being able to play with their minds by going in and out, soft, hard – that is a crafty lefty.

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?

Nick Greenwood: I think Simon Castro is a great pitcher. He has a phenomenal fastball, but his slider is an absolute plus pitch. He can throw it over whenever he wants, he can buckle hitters, get it over ahead or behind in the count. He has that ability, along with that fastball. I would take that. I would like to be a flame thrower too. I will take any pitch he is throwing.

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

Nick Greenwood: It would have to be Jaff Decker. He is patient. You make a mistake, he is going to hit it. If you are too fine, he will take the walk. He is a great hitter, patient with power. That is what I think a lot of big leaguers are like – you make a mistake and they are going to hit it.

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