Padres Prospect Interview: Hayden Beard

Fort Wayne, IN: San Diego Padres prospect Hayden Beard was out of professional baseball for close to three years, landing on the Mets reserved list. He is back at it and understands that time may be running out so he is eager to make a positive impression.

Talk to me a little bit about the process. You were in the Mets organization – I think you played a year. Then you disappeared for a little while. And this is as far as I am concerned because I do not really know the history. You're back and now you're with the Padres.

Hayden Beard: As you said, I was with the Mets. I signed in 2005 and came over for instructs my first year. Then I went back to Australia in the off-season. I came back to the States for the start of the 2006 season. I played in the Gulf Coast League there. I got the call up to High A, to St. Lucie, late in the season. I got hurt up there. Rehabbed all off-season and came into spring 2007, fit, healthy and good to go. The last day of spring right before the teams broke, I had some elbow issues and they shut me down for a while. I had an MRI and the nerve popped out a little bit. I had surgery and never really came back from the surgery. I had a lot of setbacks in the rehab process. I rehabbed that whole year and I still didn't have good ball control. So I pretty much just shut it down.

Were you thinking at that time that that was it?

Hayden Beard: Yes. There wasn't a doubt in my mind. I spent the next two years back in Australia. I did not even play baseball. In 2009 I had an opportunity to go to Japan with an Australian team that needed another arm. I wasn't really in shape, but I thought I would go and have the experience of going to Japan. While I was there, everything just clicked and I got my velocity back. My arm felt good. Then I went back to Australia – did a little bit of training and got back in the weight room. I got into shape.

At that point, do you call the Mets and say, "Hey, I'm back in shape" because you are still property of them?

Hayden Beard: Yes. I was still property of them. I called them and told them I was back in shape. They said they would talk to me in February (this was about in November) and we'll see if we can get you a visa. It just so happened I was in the Rule 5 Draft. I was playing for a team back home and one of the coaches happened to be a Padres scout and he put in the reports and they ended up taking me in December. That was it. That is how I ended up here. I am loving it here. It has been a good change for me. Good people and a good environment.

You started in 2005. We are in 2010. Do you feel like the window is closing?

Hayden Beard: Without a doubt. I thought it was closed and locked. Then a crack opens up and I slipped in through that crack. As long as you have a jersey on your back, you have a chance. I am just going to hang around here as long as I can and put up numbers, keep people happy and keep a job. You never know where it is going to take you. That is all I am thinking right now.

Talk a little bit about your repertoire. You mentioned your velocity is coming back. Where you are at today and where you think you should be. And your other pitches as well.

Hayden Beard: My velocity has bring pretty good this year. I have been up to 95 mph a few times. That is where I was pre-surgery. I feel with a bit more work that there is still a bit more in there. I throw a four-seam fastball and a two-seamer. I throw a cutter which is upper 80s and touches 90 mph. That is a pitch that I just started throwing in the past two months.

Thanks to Nick Schumacher?

Hayden Beard: We both got that three quarter arm angle, both of our balls run, we both throw cutters, and change-ups. A change-up was a pitch I really never had concentrated on. Being a reliever, I just got by with my fastball and the cutter. Since coming here, I started to work on the change-up and I throw a little breaking ball in there just to give the hitters something else to think about. I am predominantly a fastball pitcher and that is the pitch I will go to when I need that out.

You took some opportunities to close earlier in the year. Where do you feel comfortable in that role, 7th, 8th, 9th?

Hayden Beard: I like coming in the 9th – when the pressure is on. I like that feeling. I want the ball in my hand. But in all honesty, I will pitch anywhere. I will throw the 1st inning or the 9th inning or anywhere in between. As long as I am out on the mound and getting work in, it doesn't really bother me.

What do you think you need to do to continue up the ladder. Right now we are in low A, like you said, you feel like the door is closing at little bit, how do you continue to go higher?

Hayden Beard: I can only do what I can do. Go out there and get the guys out. Keep the walks down. Command has never been my strongest asset. I have been pretty wild and that is something I need to keep working on to keep the ball down in the zone so I don't get hurt.

Repeating mechanics? Is that part of the process?

Hayden Beard: It is. It is tough as a reliever because you don't throw bullpens. As a starter, you have those two bullpen days during the week to work on your stuff. As a reliever, you don't have that. A lot of it is working your stuff out on the mound in game situations. As far as moving up, I have to get guys out. Other than that, it is out of my hands and up to the organization. If a spot opens and they want to give it to me, then that's awesome. If not, I stay here.

Doesn't it seem a little backwards that, as you were saying, you work on your stuff on the mound. If you are working on your stuff on the mound, then odds are, it is not going to be some of your best work at times. I was trying to throw that pitch and that's why you gave up that three run homer. Not to say you would use it in that situation with two guys on, but that's how I got in that situation in the first place.

Hayden Beard: Yes. It is not something new. Everyone has to deal with it your whole career. It is something you have to accept and you roll with it. That's the game and that's your job. You just do it.

You've been out here a month and a half. If you could take one pitch from one of your teammates, what would you take and why?

Hayden Beard: That's a good question. I would take Hussey's curveball. His curveball is dirty. I would love to have that curveball to add to my repertoire. From my arm angle, I am not going to have that nice tight curveball. It is that good.

Give me one teammate, a hitter, that you are glad to have as a teammate so you do not have to face him.

Hayden Beard: Griffin Benedict. He is a tough out. He always hits the ball hard. He comes up in those tough situations. I like watching him take BP. His swing is so smooth and he is short to the ball and he doesn't strike out very often. He is someone I don't want to ever have to throw to.

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