Padres Prospect Interview: Jerry Sullivan

San Diego Padres prospect Jerry Sullivan is reaching a potential that was glimpsed in his debut season, reaching the Midwest League All-Star game where he was the winning pitcher. The addition of the glove side two-seamer and adding more run to his fastball have been key components to his success.

You have had very good year so far. When you look at that comfort level going from pen-starting last year and here with a defined role and getting comfortable within it, how has it been for you so far?

Jerry Sullivan: It has been going pretty well. I have been constantly working with Bronze (pitching coach Bronswell Patrick) in an effort to establish my fastball command and really pitch into contact. Using my pitches and getting my pitches better so I can pitch behind in counts and get the batters out. Even though I had a bunch of no decisions, you learn from start to start. Now I feel that I am really getting rolling and getting my command to be much better. Bronze has been a lot of help, especially since I had him in Eugene. He really helped with the carryover from there to here.

Any changes you have made, you spoke about that carryover? There is always something you are tinkering with, every pitcher is.

Jerry Sullivan: Yes. Personally I am always trying to find out what the next guy is doing that is at a higher level than me. What is he doing and what do I need to do to incorporate that into my routine and get better. Eventually then I will be better pitcher all around. I am always working on command, regardless of whether I have it or not. It is always going to get you better, especially at the higher levels. Working down more and getting more run on my ball as you see in the big league where they are throwing ball down more and it's working and they are getting their grounds balls.

Is it a change of grip, a change of arm style? How do you change it so you can more run on the ball?

Jerry Sullivan: I change the grip on the ball from a four-seam to a two-seam and just throw both in the game. Obviously, the four-seam is for more velocity and the two-seam is for ground balls.

It seems you were throwing a lot more two-seamers and almost forgetting the four-seam? Is that true?

Jerry Sullivan: One of the things we were trying to work on was a glove-side two seamer. You see guys in the big leagues throwing that pitch and they get a lot of outs, especially to the lefties and the righty both give up on the pitch. That is something I want to add to my arsenal and I think a good balance would be best.

How are your speed pitches coming along?

Jerry Sullivan: They are coming along well. We stressed fastball command this year. Once we get comfortable enough with the fastball, and then get my secondary pitches going, then we are going to get it going with trying to completely mix up with the batters.

When you are doing stuff like that and putting those off speed pitches in the back pocket, is that almost counterproductive at times too?

Jerry Sullivan: Sometimes it might feel that way. When you are working on something, and you look to feel something so often, i.e., a glove side two seamer, you need to be throwing your other off speed pitches every day too to make sure you have them. That way when they show up in the game I am able to throw them for strikes when needed.

You mentioned getting to that extra level and figuring out what you need to do to get there. You can only control what you can control. How do you make it so there is no other option but to move you up?

Jerry Sullivan: Right now, anybody you see out here can throw 95-100 mph but they don't know where it is going. I think understanding the complete game and recognizing batter's swings, knowing what to do in situations where you go after a ground ball even where you know you could get the strike out, but you need the ground ball for a double play. Knowing all sorts of different game time situations which help educate me as pitcher and give me the advantage at the higher levels. Being able to pitch behind in counts with breaking pitches. Those types of things and being able to be consistent in those areas are what is going to move me. Being able to talk to the big guys who come down and really get a chance to talk to us. It is good to get a mix of the things I need to work on everyday and also those things I know I need to develop to get to the bigs.

When did the mentality change for you. As a guy who throws 95, you become a strikeout pitcher. Now you talk about the mentality of wanting a ground ball, controlling the pitch count, and going deep into the game.

Jerry Sullivan: Last start I had a situation where I shook off for a slider because in that situation I wanted a strikeout so I could get a ground out for the next batter. I believe we had no outs. Certain situations I have grown mentally where you want to put the guy away so you gives us a chance. Breaking pitches is going to get you a ground ball anyway unless you leave it hanging. I felt confident with the pitch and feeling conviction about stuff is key. That higher level thinking is important because you mind is the big factor as you get higher.

I know have a lot of great teammates. Is there someone who may be undervalued for the things they do here?

Jerry Sullivan: The only guy who gets under blown up is our clubbie. He works his rear end off and takes care of us. We have a bunch of good guys on the team and it is part of the game that you want to build team chemistry, but understanding the game of baseball you have to concentrate on what you are doing as an individual to help the team. Baseball is nine individuals together as a team. I think we are all working in our different areas. Sometimes a guy will be working on bunting and another guy will be working on dropping head on the ball and I am working on a glove side two-seamers. We have been about half way and everybody is starting to get going.

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