Pitching coach Bradley on Eugene prospects

Matt Lollis

Eugene, OR: Tom Bradley enters his fifth year in the Padres' organization and has been coaching collegiately or professionally since 1978. This year he may be working with a staff that has as more potential than any he has had in the past, particularly with San Diego.

We caught up with coach Bradley during Eugene's season to get his thoughts on his top four starters.

Keyvius Sampson was high pick last year. What have you seen of him so far and what do you like about him?

Tom Bradley: He's got a great arm, as the other starters we have this year do. He's got a very explosive fastball and his delivery is better and the ball gets on the hitter pretty quick because he is so free and easy. He's a little bit deceptive because the ball seems like it is much faster than it is, and right now he's around 93 to 94 which is very good but to many it seems like its 97 or 98.

Like most young pitchers, he needs to work on his secondary pitches. His curveball was good last night, and when he throws it correctly, its a good pitch. His changeup is pretty good, but right now we are really emphasizing fastball dominance as opposed to the past few years when it was more about the changeup.

For starters they have to throw a changeup for their secondary pitches but obviously being able to throw and command the fastball down is pretty important.

Matt Lollis, who I saw when I was out there, really impressed with his performance.

Tom Bradley: All of these guys were in extended spring training and sometimes when you are down there for two months after everyone leaves you don't see the best of them down there, but with Matt it was the opposite. What you saw last night is the product of how hard he worked.

He can throw four pitches and command his fastball. He was around 93 and I think touched 96. Obviously, there is more in there, and I think he can throw harder than what we have seen. His command is pretty good and he's thrown his curve more, and its a good one.

He's very agile for his size, he's got four pitches, good velocity and downward angle on his fastball and is around the zone a lot. So there is a lot to like.

Usually when I talk to you guys you usually make them pick between a curve or a slider. Why did you let him have both?

Tom Bradley: Mike Couchee, our pitching coordinator, gave him the ok to throw both. I like his curve a little better because it really has a good downward plane. Its not a true 12-6 but I think it has a little better action than his slider.

His slider is a harder pitch, its quicker, but it doesn't break as much. It is hard to throw both pitches and he may have to choose down the road, but I really do like his curve.

How about Adys Portillo?

Tom Bradley: I only saw him a little last year because I was in Fort Wayne but he's made a lot of improvement from what I have seen in the past few months that I have been with him.

I was talking with Jimmy Jones, our pitching coach who was with him in the AZL last year, and he said that he has a golden arm. You have to remember he's just 18 and if he was in the draft this year, he might be one of the top three or four picks in the country; he has that type of explosiveness to his fastball.

He has a good curve and change, but he needs to work on them more to be more consistent. I like him because he's around the zone a lot with his fastball, so he's throwing more strikes.

The problem with him last year from what I understood, was that he was throwing strikes, just not strikes in the right area. Too many were in the middle of the plate.

Tom Bradley: That did happen and he was also a little erratic, walk guys and get behind in the count a few too many times but we aren't seeing that as much this year.

He's able to throw his secondary pitches more with better fastball command because he's getting ahead in the count. He's a good kid, works hard and I think he has a future.

Last guy is Pedro Martiniez, great name..

Tom Bradley: True, and from the other side.

Another big guy had a good year last year in the DSL, what can you tell us about him.

Tom Bradley: His fastball is probably average major league, anywhere from 89-91. I like his slider more than his curve because it has a little better tilt or depth and can get it in on righties more.

He's going to go fastball, slider and change this year. He throws strikes and is our only lefty this year. Being a lefty is a big commodity but like everyone here its really about pounding the zone, getting their mechanics down and really commanding the fastball.

One general question. You picked Keyvius fairly high and kept him in extended for a few months before starting him off in Eugene. You are very careful with young arms, especially just out of high school.

Since you took John Barbato, a high school pitcher, do you think that will be the plan with him next year if you sign him?

Tom Bradley: When they first sign, and many have pitched a lot, there is a certain process that we have to go through because of our investment in them. We have to limit the number of innings they throw, specifically the pitches their first year especially in the first and second year.

I'll give you an example. Jeremy Hefner, who I had here when we first drafted him in '07, his velocity is just back to where it was in college, where he was throwing 91-93. Its a process that they have to get used to throwing everyday in the pros. Studies will tell you that so we are really careful on the innings and pitches they throw. We did that with Wade LeBlanc and Nathan Culp and they went like ten days without pitching - they weren't happy about it - but it was for their long-term development.

I don't have the information with me here on how many innings/pitches our starters will throw this year, but it has been mapped out. We have a 76-game schedule so they will all get around 15 to 16 starts at around five to six innings an outing depending on how many pitches.

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