Padres Prospect Interview: James Needy

San Diego Padres prospect James Needy's knee troubles delayed his start to the season. The right-hander holds a ton of promise but has not been able to showcase his talent.

We talked about the breaking ball when we originally discussed your repertoire as something you wanted to see have progression. How is that coming along?

James Needy: It's going great. I've had some good coaching down here, teaching me about fundamentals and getting me in position to throw that breaking ball. It's worked out very well. I threw a couple good ones out here – the slider.

One of the things that one of the coaches mentioned to me last year was seeing you get better finish off the pitches. How's that helped?

James Needy: Yeah. They're working on getting me in position to throw and be able to throw pitches where I want to throw them. That's just finishing the pitch. Finishing the pitch is starting out where your stride is and landing in the same spot.

Now, when you were throwing last year, you landed almost on that third base side, where you're torque-ing your arm.

James Needy: Yeah. That's something we've been working on. I did it in high school. I was just a kid working on stuff. That's what they want me to do is less stress on the shoulder, less stress on the arm. That's what they've had me working on the whole time.

How difficult is it to change habits you've had your whole life, through high school until now, and all of a sudden, you have to try to be comfortable in a new territory?

James Needy: It wasn't too hard. I was prepared. I knew I came from high school. I didn't have top-notch coaches. I mean, I had great coaches in high school, but they were more working on me, mentally, and the physical fundamentals. I knew I was going to have to change a lot when I signed and everything like that. It hasn't been too hard to switch. That's what our pitching coach Jimmy Jones says, we're the athletes of the group. I have to do something.

You're 6-foot-5. How important is that downhill plane that you get?

James Needy: It just makes it harder for the hitter. When you're coming from all the way up there, it's just another angle that's hard to hit. That's what you have to do. If you come with that angle and you get movement on your pitch to go along with it, it's pretty hard to hit.

Last year you came into Arizona and you had an aggressive attitude, attacking the strike zone. It was a mature personality for someone coming in at 18 to professional ballpark.

James Needy: I've always been like, "If they're going to hit me out of the ballpark, they'll hit me out of the ballpark." I'm not just going to walk in runs, though. I'm going to be around the plate and be aggressive toward the strike zone. That's what our philosophy is. You have to be aggressive toward the strike zone, aggressive with the fastball. That's what you have to do. You have to hit your spots, make sure if they're going to hit you out, they're going to hit you out. You have to throw strikes, make them miss hit the ball. That's your job.

Talk a little about your pitch sequencing, and how that can improve from last year until now.

James Needy: My fundamental changes have been more about setting up that inside pitch with the outside pitch. That's why I don't throw four-seam. I never have. It's just not in my repertoire. I throw two-seams. Sinkers, that's what they call them here. You just throw those. Get them on the outside part of the plate they give up on, and get it in on the hands. Then, mix in the change-up. The change-up has been a lot better this year, because I got taught a new one. So, I have a new repertoire. I moved my fingers a little bit, and it's working a lot better. I'm working on it. Fastball, changeup, and then you throw that slider when you're out at the count and you try to get them to swing and miss. It's just what you have to do. Right now, we're working on more fundamentals than we are pitch sequencing. It's early in the season, but at the end, we'll be working on more pitch sequences.

What did you learn about yourself over the course of that first professional year?

James Needy: That I'm 18. There's a lot out here that I had no idea that this was a part of baseball. I was an 18 year old and I was a fan six months ago and now I'm playing ball. That's one of the biggest things. You have to turn from being a fan to it being your job. There was a lot about baseball that I did not know about until I got here. I realized I'm an 18 year old kid and everyone else out here is about 25.

Give me an example of something you didn't know.

James Needy: Simple things. That's it's a lot of work. It's a lot of work. It's not just playing the game all day. You have to practice. You have to work. There' s more to baseball than just throwing a baseball and hitting a baseball. There's a lot more put into it, studying and everything like that and working out. There's a lot of stuff that you put into baseball that, in high school, you just took for granted, working out, lifting weights, watching films, stuff like that.

What are the goals the rest of the way?

James Needy: I want to be able to attack the strike zone and get people out. That's the job. You have to get people out. I'm hoping to get a little bigger, a little healthier. I've had a couple nagging injuries. I just want to get a little healthier, have a good season, and don't change my approach as I move up. Same approach. If the coaches come to me and say I have to do something different, then I have to do something different.

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?

James Needy: That's a tough one. I'd probably take Steve Garrison's fastball because he can command it anywhere he wants. He was my first roommate when I got out here. Not only his fastball command, but also his maturity. He's one of those guys. They probably stuck me with him for a reason, kept me out of trouble when I first got here. He taught me the reigns a little bit. He has so much command. I just wish he could stay healthy. I saw him pitch twice. I could tell from the way he pitched twice that he's got command of where he's going and he knows what he's doing. I'd miss my fastball, but his fastball he can command on both sides of the plate.

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

James Needy: Probably Wande Olabisi. He struggles a little bit at the plate, but he's a big boy, and I wouldn't want to see him at the plate ever. He's huge. He struggles a little bit, but he could take you yard any day, any time, any pitch. He's just like psssh, see ya!

Cody Decker. He just gets around it. He's another hitter I don't want to see. He's another hitter I'm glad is on my team.

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