The Sub-Mariner: Stephen Spragg

The Sub-Mariner: Stephen Spragg

Among the recent signees who got little press include Stephen Spragg. The Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League sold his contract to the Padres after Spragg worked out for Mal Fitchman and Bill Bryk at a tryout camp in Chicago.

Stephen Spragg went to the tryout armed with two different arm angles, a delivery that was more conventional, albeit on the sidearm side, and a submarine style look.

Over two days he worked with the other potentials at the camp, working to three or four batters at a clip before waiting his next turn in line among a crowd of close to 100. The days go from 9 AM to 5 PM.

He drove through the night to get to camp on time and after showing off the submarine look, the Padres requested he pitch solely from that arm angle slot and came away impressed with his stuff.

"Submarine pitchers are tough to evaluate because you throw away the gun for the most part and look for movement sink and command," Bryk explained. "They can really be tough (to hit), especially on right-handed hitters."

And the movement was there, paving the way for his signing. Spragg actually generated more speed on his fastball with the new look, the heater reaching 88 where before it sat in the mid-eighties after a season of work.

One of the worries from someone who delivers his pitches from the submarine angle is keeping it consistent to maintain control. A lot of times a pitcher will have trouble throwing the same exact way each time he lines up.

That wasn't a problem for Spragg.

"I actually feel like in submarine I have more control and I feel like I have more velocity as well," Spragg confided.

Spragg went 4-2 with a team-leading 2.72 ERA in 59.2 innings on the mound for the Wild Things in 2005, along with 12 saves. The 6-foot-2 right-hander struck out 56 while walking just 15 batters over the year.

The contract he signed pencils him into the Fort Wayne Wizards roster provided he has a solid showing in spring training. The Padres success in the Independent League market extends to pitchers such as Craig Breslow, Paul Abraham and Ryan Trytten. If Spragg can become close to what those three have, the Padres got another bargain.

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