In his first taste of major-league action, Padres’ pitcher David Bednar is just soaking it all up.
When you are taken in the 35th round of the MLB draft, the reality is there aren’t high expectations for you. Most players selected that low in the draft struggle to make it even to the upper levels of the minor leagues, let alone play at the highest level of professional baseball.
David Bednar is not like most players.
Drafted in 2016 by the San Diego Padres, the soon-to-be 25-year-old pitcher excelled almost immediately as the team converted him from a starting pitcher into a relief role. He made two stops in 2016 with the Tri-City Dust Devils and Fort Wayne TinCaps, recording a 2.32 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 31 innings. The power pitcher only walked four in that time while striking out 40 batters. He was undervalued in the draft.
The Padres eventually had Bednar closing games in the minors consistently. He has saved 39 games down on the farm, including four in his first taste of pro-ball with the Dust Devils and TinCaps after the 2016 draft. The closer’s role is not an easy job, but Bednar has embraced the role. “I try not to think too much about it. I just try to treat it like any other time I go out there. No matter if it’s the 7th, 8th or 9th- I just try to do the same thing and get guys out,” Bednar said with calm confidence.
Standing in a major league locker room is something David Bednar does not take lightly. The whole experience has been surreal for the young pitcher. “I mean its the big leagues. Everything is unbelievable and awesome. Just trying to soak it up every day,” Bednar said with a smile. “There are no 12-hour bus rides, so that’s good. The whole deal has been excellent.”
Hideo Nomo worked with Bednar on his split-finger fastball. The pitch has an excellent tumbling effect to it and resembles a tight-breaking slider with its movement. The pitch has certainly helped Bednar take his game to the next level. There is always work that needs to be done with a “feel pitch” like a splitter though. Bednar is continually working on new things with the pitch. “I am just trying to be more consistent with the pitch and get that late action,” Bednar said. Having Darren Balsley and Doug Bochtler by his side has also assisted the young hurler in his progression.
While in Amarillo, Bednar worked with A.J. Kennedy on his curveball. “We were just trying to be more aggressive with it. Not trying to land it for a strike, but be aggressive with the pitch. I am trying to get it on the bottom of the zone,” Bednar explained. The pitch is something that he wants to show batters and the reliever has confidence in the pitch against right-handers or left-handers. Adding the third pitch in which he can trust, and using it will only assist in making his time in the majors a long one. Bednar is very much in the running for a roster spot in 2020.
Working with Austin Hedges is something that young pitchers do not take lightly. The Gold-Glove caliber defense he provides is instrumental in the growth of these young Friar’ pitchers. Bednar is undoubtedly enjoying his time with Hedges in San Diego. “The amount of work he does behind the scenes is amazing. He is lights out behind the dish,” Bednar told East Village Times. The prep-work that Hedges does is well-known, but he brings other intangibles to his team. “He has a tremendous feel for the game, and you don’t have to think too much on the mound,” Bednar said. For a young pitcher, having confidence in a catcher is vital for improvement. The information Hedges provides is yet another thing that Bednar can soak up while pitching for the San Diego Padres.