Padres Prospect Interview: Wynn Pelzer

Wynn Pelzer

LAKE ELSINORE, CA: Wynn Pelzer was a ninth-round selection by San Diego in the 2007 draft. At the University of South Carolina, Pelzer was always considered to be a pitcher that had more ability than his performance indicated. Then again, when you consistently throw a fastball in the mid-90s while showing the ability to throw a good slider, you are going to get some attention.

After being injured in the Cape Cod League the summer he was drafted, Pelzer began his professional career in Fort Wayne and emerged as one of the better pitchers in the Midwest League, finishing the season at 9-6 with a 3.19 ERA.

Pelzer throws a mix of two- and four-seam fastballs to go along with a very good slider and developing change. His control and ability to go deep into games has improved significantly since college, and at the end of May, he was tied with his teammate Jeremy McBryde for the organizational lead in wins.

You're having the best year of you're short professional career so far in the Cal League, which is one of the best hitter's leagues in baseball. What do you attribute to you're success?

Wynn Pelzer: The main thing is keeping the ball down. There is wind everywhere in this league and the ball will carry so you will give up some cheap home-runs. I really try to get the ground balls, get quick and easy outs and use my infield.

What have you improved upon from last year?

Wynn Pelzer: In the off-season the main thing was getting comfortable with my changeup so that I could throw it in any count and fastball command, which I have always worked on.

The main goal is to get better everytime that you go out. This year, in the first couple of starts, I had some trouble with fastball command and I think I improved upon that. I really want to pound the strike zone and go deeper in games without running my pitch count up.

When you say fastball command, you're mainly talking about your two-seamer, which you said last year you will take more movement over velocity. Was it a little tougher for you to get used to commanding the two-seamer since it has more movement?

Wynn Pelzer: Actually, I've been very good at throwing sinkers/two seamers in Fort Wayne. This year I've gone back to mixing in more four-seamers. Last year, I was throwing some two-seamers that would run back over the middle to lefties and get me in some trouble. I'm just trying to get a healthy mix of both.

When you throw a four-seamer is that when you are trying to elevate eyes?

Wynn Pelzer: Not so much as trying to elevate the ball, but to try to prevent the ball from catching too much of the plate, particularly with lefties. When I throw the four-seamer, it's going to stay more in one spot, so I know where its going to end up.

Its all about keeping the batters off balance.

Wynn Pelzer: Exactly. As I was talking with my pitching coach, I've started to control the damage that lefties can have on me. If I miss with the four-seamer to them its going to miss inside, so then I'm going to move some feet which is a win-win situation for me.

It sends a message to the batter that I am going to come inside and they just can't dive over the plate on me.

Josh Geer mentioned the same thing when throwing inside that there are three points, one is to throw a strike, to is to throw something outside the strike zone and hope they take a bad swing and the third is to move some feet to prevent them from diving across the plate. You do the same thing?

Wynn Pelzer: You have too, especially in a league like this where hitters are so aggressive. Guys that are first and second pitch swinging. You have to go in because if you don't they are going to take away the outside corner. Then they don't have to cover both sides of the plate.

Compared to college you can cover the whole plate with an aluminum bat, but with a wooden bat in pro ball if you try to cover to much of the outside, you are going to snap a bat in two with an inside pitch. Is that true?

Wynn Pelzer: Sure. This is a level up and you have to make better pitches. Pay attention to what hitters do on balls they don't hit. If you throw a slider and you see his side kind of leak out, he's diving out towards the outside corner so you want to go in. Because if he swings and makes contact there is really nothing that he can do with that ball.

Its all about paying attention to the hitters on a pitch-by-pitch basis so you can make adjustments.

The announcers at Fort Wayne talked about you being one of the most competitive pitchers they have ever watched. At the same time, the Padres talk about pitching efficiency, of getting batters out in less than three pitches. How do you balance between wanting to strike out the guy you are facing with at the same time trying to conserve your pitches to go deep into games. Those are kind of opposite things?

Wynn Pelzer: No, its not really opposite because if I am making my pitches I am being competitive. I'm going out there with the mindset I'm just trying to make good pitches and see how deep I can go into games. If I make a good pitch, I've beat the hitter. He doesn't have to swing and miss the ball; if he puts a weak swing on the ball that is just as effective.

I win.

So you're goal is every at batter is going to hit my pitch or you are going to sit down.

Wynn Pelzer: Its all a learning process. Its about keeping guys off base, getting ahead in the count and when you have to put someone away, you do it.

If you leave them a cookie here, they are going to bang it.

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