Padres Prospect Interview: Matt Branham

The San Diego Padres took Matt Branham in the 27th-round, hoping to strike it rich with the 6-foot-5 right-hander who commands his fastball well and struck out more than a batter an inning in college.

Congratulations on getting selected by the Padres. Can you talk about the feeling when it all came down?

Matt Branham: I was following it on the computer most of the day. I was hoping to hear my name called. I saw my name pop up with the Padres. I got the call and he congratulated me. I was pretty excited about it.

How long have you been in South Carolina?

Matt Branham: I have lived in South Carolina my whole life. I just finished up my senior year at South Carolina upstate.

You went to smaller school. What was the draw there?

Matt Branham: I went to a small school because I liked all the coaches. When I first got there, it was Division II. I wanted to go to a school where I could start pitching right away. That was the main thing.

You have struck out more hitters per inning each of the last two years. What has been the key to your success? Is there an "out" pitch you have.

Matt Branham: I like to get ahead with my fastball, throw a few breaking balls, and finish with my fastball. I have had a better command of my pitches and been able to locate my pitches. That has been the biggest key to my strikeouts.

What is the repertoire like? Talk a little bit about the pitches you throw and the speed you throw them at.

Matt Branham: I throw a fastball, slider and changeup. My fastball is 90-92 mph usually. Both the breaking ball and change-up are high 70s to 80 mph.

Do you feel there is more room for you to grow? You are a pretty tall guy at 6'4", 6'5". Do you have room to fill out even more and get added velocity?

Matt Branham: Yes. I think so. I have the frame for it. I need to put a little bit more muscle on and I think that will help me throw a little bit harder. I have things to work on and something to look forward to now.

You were drafted last year in the 47th round to the Houston Astros. Does it get any easier the second time around?

Matt Branham: It is still nerve-wracking. You work all year and you want to do well. Yesterday came up and I was ready to hear my name called and relieve some of the stress.

You mentioned being able to work on your game. Is there a specific spot that you feel needs improvement?

Matt Branham: I have been primarily a starter at school. During the summer leagues I have been relieving, which is what I like best. As a starter, I want to work on staying strong for 7 innings as I tend to lose a little bit of velocity as the game wears on.

Who would you compare your stuff to at the Major League level? Give Padres fans an idea of what you are like on the mound.

Matt Branham: I have no idea.

Has anyone ever said you are like this guy?

Matt Branham: I cannot recall anything like that.

What is your best moment in baseball and why?

Matt Branham: My school just went Division I in my sophomore season and so we were not eligible for playoffs. But last summer I played in Rhode Island and the New England Collegiate League and we won the championship. That was a great team with a bunch of great guys. We ended winning the championship and we were all very proud of that.

What do you look forward to now that you are on the verge of going into professional baseball?

Matt Branham: I am excited to get out there and start playing and see what I can do and see how far it can take me.

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