Razor on Padres pitching prospects in Eugene

Anthony Bass

Dave Rajsich saw most of the new arms to enter the San Diego Padres system and some of the old, including Rob Musgrave, Alexis Lara, Nick Vincent, Geoff Vandel, Nick Schumacher, and Anthony Bass.

Rob Musgrave was solid out of the pen for you and seemed to strike everyone out. What was it that allowed him to succeed?

Dave Rajsich: He's got a great changeup, he can throw his curveball anytime in the counts, and he just passes strikes on his first pitch – strikes for probably, I don't have his stats, but I would say probably close to 70 percent for first-pitch strikes. He would pound that strike zone and then he'd use that curveball and changeup to finish hitters. And when you haven't seen it and all of a sudden: Boom! There it is. It just buckles you. He was very, very impressive.

Alexis Lara had some trouble with walks this year. Was it fastball command that has eluded him?

Dave Rajsich: Exactly. I think what happened with Lexy was he got a little intimidated by the league. He pitched in the Arizona league and pretty much dominated, same kids, he knows a lot of the Latins down there as well, first year players. And this year, he walked into an older group of college players, and it's his second year and I think he was just a little bit overwhelmed by what he saw, and he realized he was just another one of the pitchers and not anything special. He was very tentative in his pitching this year and I think that should change next year.

Lara was also excellent with men on base. What changes for him in those moments?

Dave Rajsich: As the year progressed, I think he kind of got a little bit worn down because he actually said he didn't like being brought in with men on base. I think it created too much tension for him, or stress, I think, so that's where we started putting him in roles where that wasn't the case, but he was very effective when he was brought in in that role. That's just Alexis' perception, so you know we just made it easier for him so he could have some success.

Nick Vincent was good against lefties and not so good against righties – what does he need to improve in that area?

Dave Rajsich: I think he's just got tired. The last three games I saw him pitch, I think he was just tired. He's a smaller framed guy that pitched as a closer at Long Beach. I think he just got a little worn down. We put him in the rotation to protect him against more innings in college. We put him in the rotation and I think he just got a little worn down by the sheer volume of baseball for the year. The last three games he got beat up. You can see his elbow dropped a little bit getting underneath pitches, but he's a fastball, slider guy that attacks the zone very well. He did very good for the role that we put him in. We wouldn't have probably gotten out of that position with our record that year, this last year without Vinny going into the rotation. He did a nice job, very nice job.

Geoff Vandel put together a solid season for you guys but this was his fourth year of not getting to full season ball. Is he finally putting it altogether?

Dave Rajsich: Yes and no. I still think he needs to work on the curveball more. With his changeup and fastball, he's really starting to understand the feel of the fastball, how much balance and rhythm comes into play. Every year, he seems to have a great second half, and if you look at his season this year he had two bad games that I can recall right away: both of them were against Everett. One was up there – I think both of them were up there, at Everett. If you take those two games away I bet you his ERA's under 2. I mean, that's how effective he was against the rest of the league, it's just that Everett's just got him.

But he's maturing. You got to remember he was a high school sign so this would be his fourth year just coming out of college type of thing. And he's okay, I'd like to see the velocity pick up a little bit more, and I started to see a little bit of pop. And we can add two more miles an hour to the fastball and I think it can come. He understands movement, his changeup has improved, just got to get a feel for that curveball a little bit more and I think he'll be fine. He's not going to be a hard thrower, he's going to be more like a (Jaime) Moyer, but if he can put that together, he's effective.

Nick Schumacher seemed to attack the first hitter of every inning and then get a little more complacent after getting the first out. Was that visible to you?

Dave Rajsich: What you see with him is his first innings were really pretty impressive; his second inning he'd usually get beat up. And what I see, it looks like he just starts getting too quick with his delivery as the inning progresses as he goes from 10 pitch innings to 15 to 20, he starts getting faster and faster and faster and there's almost like an urgency to get through the inning and that's when he makes mistakes. I think he just needs to slow down his tempo a little bit because he has good pitches, his delivery could be a little cleaner, it's a little too jerky for me and he drops his head and doesn't really pick up his target soon enough, but those are things that could be corrected easily. He has a good live arm, the ball comes out of his hand really easy, a little bit of funk in the delivery; the fastball and slider are legit pitches.

Anthony Bass has a bit of a funky delivery – how hard is it for him to land his foot on a line towards the plate with consistency?

Dave Rajsich: Well, Bass has, what he does is he shows you his whole back, he takes a turn. But what he does, he has very good balance through the delivery, he doesn't really drift with the upper body. If you watch him turn, he just turns like he's on a ballerina stick. And when he does drift a little bit you can see the difference. But when he just turns and then he comes out of there, he almost explodes. It's almost like a coil that just – the spring just pops and it's just, the arm speed is unbelievable. And he's got four outstanding pitches.

So how good can he be next year when he's in the rotation?

Dave Rajsich: Well, he could possibly go in the rotation because he's got four big league pitches: he's got fastball, curveball, slider, change. And you know he had 120 innings coming into the season or 110 somewhere around there so we were trying to keep him under 40 or under 50 and I think we did a pretty good job of that in protecting him, both him and Musgrave. And basically, Musgrave we kind of, with that six-game stretch, we kind of overused Muss a little bit, and he had a couple bad games where he didn't get an out, but I think that was because we only gave him one days rest and normally we were giving him two, possibly three, but we were trying to make it happen and it happened, but it just ended up in a tie. So you're looking at some really nice college arms that will be in different roles next year, but what I saw is very impressive. It's going to be a dogfight as far as that rotation in Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore.

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