Padres Prospect Interview: Michael Watt

Evertyhing has centered around confidence for San Diego Padres prospect Michael Watt. This year, he has the swagger.

How do things feel early in the year?

Michael Watt: The ball is coming out really well. I made a couple of changes to my mechanics in the offseason and more in spring and the ball is coming out of my hand really nice. Everything is going well.

I have been repeating my curveball more and going after hitters. I felt good commanding the zone.

Lack of confidence has been something that has affected you. It seemed like towards the end of the season in 2009, you started to cross the hurdle.

Michael Watt: Absolutely. I went through a real tough year last year. Halfway through the year, I think I had a 5.30 ERA and no confidence whatsoever.

Preparation and faith in what I am doing, and faith in God, has really helped me more than anything. Believing in myself and no longer worrying about whether it is going to be a good or bad outing – I have really broken it down to trying as hard as I can and letting whatever happens, happens.

Did you have to calm yourself down where the adrenaline turned into frustration instead of channeling it in a positive manner?

Michael Watt: I would say more than calming myself down, it was an increased focus and not letting things get out of hand.

How do you not be as hard on yourself as you have been in the past?

Michael Watt: That is a good question. I am still trying to figure that out. If you are doing well, I guess you won't be as hard on yourself. That is something I need to cope with. I think if you go out there and give it everything you have and prepare and do the best you could, not matter what happens, you can't be too upset because there isn't really anything else you could have done. Therefore, there is nothing to be upset about.

You and your catchers were 6-for-24 in catching base runners attempting to steal. As a left-handed pitcher, that can't be acceptable.

Michael Watt: That is something I can control. If they are stealing, maybe I can pick them off more. I am not going to put that on anyone else's shoulders. That is my base runner that got on. Hopefully, I can pick them off or make them uncomfortable so they won't try and steal a base. When he does, he will be a step off and that will give my catcher the necessary time. Our catchers all have great arms and great footwork. I have a lot faith in them throwing guys out.

The bigger problem is taking too long from the stretch.

Was it something you were cognizant of?

Michael Watt: Yes, last year I was quicker to the plate than I had been the year before, and I think some of that was sacrificing stuff for being quicker to the plate. This year, I am more concerned with getting the hitter but maybe picking over more and using a better pickoff move rather than trying to be as quick to the plate.

Trusting the curveball. Last year, it seemed you abandoned it at times when it wasn't called for a strike during close calls. How has the mentality changed?

Michael Watt: I am not too concerned with the call. I am more concerned with what is the right pitch here and being confident in it. I am going to throw it as well as I can. If I believe it is the right pitch, I am going to go with that rather than the pitch I am most comfortable with. That has really improved my command more than anything else.

How is the changeup progressing?

Michael Watt: It's good. It feels like it is always there and something that is relatively easy to repeat. The curveball is more of a struggle in that area.

Doug Dascenzo said to me that ‘Michael Watt has great stuff.' When you hear that from one of your coaches, how does that make you feel?

Michael Watt: That feels very encouraging. That is great to hear and I am very appreciative. Hopefully, it is better this year.

Do you feel like you pitched inside to left-handers as well as you should have?

Michael Watt: No, I have never been able to do that before. This year, I am starting to do that. In instructs, I worked on that a lot. It is a big thing I added to my repertoire – having confidence to do that.

Why couldn't you do that before?

Michael Watt: I was afraid of hitting the batter, throwing the two-seam and running it too far in. Now, I have let it go and go after them.

The leadoff hitter had a .382 on-base percentage against you last year. How do you improve in that area?

Michael Watt: Extra focus. Don't let them on. I don't know. It is not because of lack of effort.

Staying closed off was one of the other areas you wanted to improve upon. Where are we with that today?

Michael Watt: Very good. I am repeating with ease. I spent every day during the offseason trying to hammer that out. That was something I got so bad at. For me, it was so hard staying closed off. I finally started to do that, and it has added so much I can't even begin to tell you how big a mechanical flaw that was flying open and how much a change it is to be confident and stay closed.

What are the 2010 goals?

Michael Watt: Go out there and try to do the best that I can. This is one of the first seasons where I have no regrets about my off-season. I feel like I did everything I could possibly do to prepare myself. It is not going to be from lack of effort.

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?

Michael Watt: I would say Nick Schumacher's cutter. That just eats guys up all day. I play catch with him. He throws that and the two-seamer – even catching it is hard. It looks the same and is a real natural thing.

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

Michael Watt: Vince Belnome. He is unreal. He has unbelievable opposite field power, especially for a lefty, and stays inside the ball. I tried to pound him in during live BP this spring and he got a hit off it. He is an unbelievable hitter and a very tough out.

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