Padres prospect interview: Tim Stauffer so close

Tim Stauffer

Tim Stauffer has met his goal...well almost. He is one step away from the Major Leagues and joining the San Diego Padres. A September call-up is not out of the question for the talented right-hander. With that will come more pressure to succeed and other unforeseen problems associated with being in the Majors.

Tim Stauffer, who sports a four-pitch repertoire, has been with Portland since late June, making his first start with the Beavers on June 26. It is the third club he has pitched for this year after starting the year with Lake Elsinore and working his way up through Mobile.

Stauffer did not throw a pitch in the Padres system before this season began. After getting drafted by the Padres fourth overall in 2003, Stauffer complained of soreness in his shoulder, due to wear on his labrum and rotator cuff.

The heralded pick has come back with a vengeance. After breezing through Lake Elsinore and Mobile with a 1.78 and 2.63 ERA, respectively, Stauffer ran into his first wave of trouble as a Portland Beaver.

By Major League standards, Stauffer had just one outing that was not termed a "quality outing", pitching six innings or more and allowing three runs or less, in both stints with Lake Elsinore and Mobile, spanning 14 starts.

His last start with Mobile was his worst. He gave up seven runs in two and a third innings. It was followed by his first Portland outing where he gave up four runs in five innings. One outing later four more runs were on the docket.

Was Stauffer getting tired as the season wore on? He had not pitched for the last half of the year and may have been weary from the long layoff or is his shoulder feeling the affects from so many innings logged.

Not so.

"I feel stronger," Stauffer said. "Each time out there I feel like I am ready to go and it doesn't bother me at all when I am pitching."

Since the three questionable starts, Stauffer bounced back to allow no more than two runs in any of his next four outings.

It was his response to the challenge of a new league, pitching in Triple-A where the hitters are more savvy and former Major Leaguers dot rosters around the PCL.

As he embarks on this new journey, other challenges will have to be confronted.

One of those keys will be adapting to an actual gameplan. In the past Stauffer has talked it over briefly with his catcher but as he draws ever so close to The Show, he will have to be ready for more preparation.

It is something that has been on his mind. So far, he has been able to rely on his in game adjustments. That will serve him well when he is pitching in San Diego, but there is more to it.

Pitches are charted and a catcher the likes of Ramon Hernandez awaits. One of the prime reasons Hernandez has been successful with pitchers is his commitment to preparation.

Scouting reports have become a pitchers best friend.

"I haven't really (reviewed scouting report) too much at all this year," Stauffer said. "Just kind of taking it as the game goes. You can kind of pick up some of that stuff during the game.

"If I am pitching the third game of the series than I have seen some guys and it is a little bit easier. If you are going first, second game you don't really have too good a feel for the hitters. Just being able to work with the catchers to determine what works."

When the call comes for him to join the Padres, and it is coming soon, he could be changing his gameplan on the fly.

Stauffer understands that it also comes with the territory and, of course, being in one place for more than a month or two.

"I think once you are at a place a little longer you are just a little more comfortable with that," Stauffer replied. "Then you will have a pretty good idea. Usually your gameplan each time out is going to change depending on the team and depending on the lineup they put in there."

Well said. It appears he already has a gameplan in mind.

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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