Padres Prospect Interview: Erik Davis

San Diego Padres prospect Erik Davis has proven to be a winner everywhere he goes. His determination and ability to throw three pitches for strikes has earned him respect from his teammates and coaches. Now, he hopes to continue with the accomplishments by perfecting his craft.

One of the things you wanted to do was improve out of the stretch. Do you feel like you've accomplished that goal?

Erik Davis: I feel like throughout your whole career you never really accomplish anything. Even if you're in the Major Leagues for ten years, you can always do better. I feel like I made some improvements last year. I'm still not where I want to be, as far as just step-wise out of the stretch, compared to wind up. I don't really know what I can attribute that to. It just is, and I can recognize that, and I'm going to work on it more this year. It's just about getting more repetitions.

Is there a distraction with the running game at all?

Erik Davis: No, not really. It's more just getting more repetitions out of the stretch, because if you're doing well, you're going to protect the lineup a little bit more. I've been lucky enough to enjoy some success in my life, so I guess I can attribute it to that.

Is the goal to throw the changeup a little bit more than the curv ball this year? Sometimes, it seemed like you went to the curveball a little more.

Erik Davis: Last year, I was almost force-feeding the curveball just because in college, I was mostly fastball/changeup. I improved my curveball dramatically last year. As far as stuff-wise, my curveball has a lot better bite. I'm still not throwing it where I want to, when I want to, 0-2 and try to bury it. Sometimes, I'll throw more of a get me over curveball instead of an 0-2 pitch. I'm going to throw that a little bit more. The higher I get up, the more important is becomes to just throw quality pitch instead of working on stuff. I'm going to throw it in times when I can, but my main goal this year is fastball command on both sides of the plate. So, that's the thing I'm going to work on.

Seventeen decisions in nineteen start last season, what does that say about you?

Erik Davis: It says I play on a good team, and I threw strikes long enough to stay in the game and get that. I believe in just letting your defense do the work, and I couldn't ask for a better team to play on last year. The guys behind me were amazing. You just keep your pitches down and stay in long enough to get those decisions. I attribute that more to the people around me than anything.

The lead off hitter of an inning had a 281 on-base percentage against you. How were you able to remain so effective and what is your strategy when you're facing that first guy of an inning?

Erik Davis: I try not to put any particular interest on any one hitter above any other. I guess it's just taking my warm up pitches seriously and really focusing from pitch one. And, like you said, I have a wind up, and I'm a little more comfortable. It's just one of those things. Especially in the college game, where those aluminum bats, balls flying everywhere. It's really important that you get the first man out. That was just forced down my throat four years at school. I think that's one good thing I can take away from playing four years in college. Baseball is baseball. The less guys you let on base, the more chance you have to pick up a W.

Four earned runs in the first inning for your 19 starts. Is it the warm up routine? Some people are slower starters, getting the feel. It seems like you're ready to go right from the opening bell.

Erik Davis: I don't know where you're pulling these stats at. I just go out there and put the same emphasis on every pitch from one to 100. I guess the beginning of the game, your stuff is a little bit sharper.

Some people might say the reverse, where you're just feeling it out, like "what do I have today?"

Erik Davis: We have some really good coaches and really good catchers. I've been fortunate. Last year, there were two outstanding catchers. When I was warming up in the bullpen, they know me so well, they were able to catch something before I go out there. I think that's one of the main reasons why our pitching staff had such great success last year. It's just the knowledge of Robert and Adam. Their baseball IQ is just off the charts.

You mentioned the fastball command on both sides of the plate. Do you feel like you were almost a backwards pitcher last year?

Erik Davis: No. I attribute a backwards pitcher as someone who doesn't have good enough command on their off-speed pitches. I feel like with my changeup, I almost have fastball command on that. It's really just a slower fastball, in my opinion, because I'm able to throw it so effectively when I want to. The way that maybe other people see it, I just see it as I throw a 90 mile an hour fastball and an 82 mile an hour two-seamer that's just coming out of the same slide. I think I've been doing it for so long that people just make assumptions. One of the reason I'm able to enjoy success is because of the fact that I'm able to throw two pitches with the same command that some people could throw just their fastball.

I seem to recall you'd like to get a little bit more movement on your fastball. Have you been able to accomplish that?

Erik Davis: That's another thing that's a work in progress. I can get some really good movement on it, but I just can't control it at this point. I started messing around with a four-seamer, and that thing moves more than my two-seamer. It's kind of frustrating. My normal fastball has a little bit of sink and run, but when you're trying to get that on the inside especially to the leftie, when you don't want it to run over the middle of the plate. That's the thing I've been having a little bit of difficulty with. I've been messing around with different grips, and even working on something that cuts in a little bit. You have to go in with authority, and you can't go in with a little bit of left to right movement. That's something I've definitely been working on this spring. Even right now, playing high A, I don't have to be perfect with it, but just mixing left and right is something I really need to work on.

Is that also true of the fastball away to right-handers, making sure it's out on that corner and not running back over?

Erik Davis: Not so much because I feel as a right hander I'm standing on the right hand of the rubber, and I step across my body as it is, so I'm creating more deception to right. I can get away a little bit more against those guys than I can against lefties. Especially since I throw my change-up with such good control. That really keeps those righties off balance, and the lefties, they seem to have a little easier time off me because everything is going away from them. Just last year, I was starting to throw the curve ball that was breaking in. So, right there, they can start diving, and even if I go inside, that ball will run over and it's really not baking them off. I'm trying to get something that goes straight right in there to keep them honest.

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?

Erik Davis: Tough question. I'd have to say, well, I can't say Simon Castro, because that's cheating. Maybe like Nick Schumacher's cutter, or something like that. Something, like I've been saying, that I could command and get moving away from a righty and in to a leftie to really keep them honest. The way he's got a command on that is kind of like I have on the change-up. Because it's not as big of a speed difference as a fastball change, people don't see him as pushing it backwards as much as they see me. But, when you have great command of two different pitches, it's starting to make it unfair for the hitters, and that's your goal as a pitcher, right?

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

Erik Davis: I'd probably say Jaff Decker, just because a lot of what I'm able to accomplish… Sometimes, I'll throw that change up that looks like a strike, but he's just got such an unbelievable eye, he lays off those pitches. He doesn't miss it. He's just a great all around player. To think that's he's only 19 and accomplishing what he has is just unbelievable. He's going to do some special things, and we're lucky to have him in this organization.

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