Padres Minors: Q & A with Padres Prospect Jerry Keel

Credit: BHE Photos/ David Cohen

Credit: Cal State Northridge
Credit: Cal State Northridge

Who has had the biggest impact on your baseball career up to this point in your life?

“Up to this point I would say my Coach Greg Moore from Cal State Northridge. There are quite a few that have had an impact, obviously quite a few of my coaches from Northridge. Out of high school I was on the heavier side so going into college I had to focus on that. From when I first stepped onto the field at Northridge all the coaches helped me tremendously with that and when it got to my junior year with coach Greg Moore it was taken to another level. Just the mentality under him brought me to the next level and got me to realize what it takes to be a professional ballplayer.”

Do you feel like your size, at six foot six inches, gives you an extra advantage on the mound?

“Yeah definitely. Size is always a good thing with a pitcher because naturally we are going to have more tilt coming down to the plate and it’s harder to hit a ball tilting downwards. For me, I also have some sink on my ball but I don’t have as much tilt as other guys my height because I naturally throw from a lower arm slot. However, with my height I still get enough tilt and with the sink on my ball I still get an advantage. It’s harder to hit that kind of ball than a straight pitch. That’s why I think my height gives me an extra advantage.”

What do you feel your biggest strength on the mound is?

“My biggest strength I think is my composure. Being able to stay within myself and control what I can control and not let other things affect my next pitch or my next inning. If an error happens behind me I can’t let that impact me and I can’t get all upset. I just focus on the hitter. Being able to keep myself composed with a short term memory. Just worry about making my next pitch and see what I have to do, read the situation, if I get the ball where am I going. I just try to focus on things like that.”

Credit: MiLB.com
Credit: MiLB.com

On the flip side, what do you feel your biggest weakness is or thing you could improve upon most?

“I would say my explosiveness or my quickness getting over to first base. I know that’s an area I need to improve upon, and I will want to improve upon. I have come a long way from my freshman year of college to now but I can still improve. During college that was one thing I attacked during my offseason, trying to improve in those weak spots. That is one thing Mark Prior made a big deal of when we were in the instructional league. We just focused on PFPs, PFPs, PFPs. It’s something they look for and it’s something I want to be a great at and keep getting better at.”

What is your best baseball achievement, or the highlight of your career?

“Definitely being drafted and being given a chance. Getting to play at the next level after division one college. My biggest achievement in college was being named Freshman pitcher of the year in the Big West and being Freshman All American. One more thing, at the end of my college career, being the innings leader, the all time innings leader at CSU Northridge. That’s something I am pretty proud of.”

What was your experience in the Cape Cod League like?

“It was an extreme honor. I was proud I was able to have the opportunity to play there. Kind of getting me toes wet with an experience of being far from home, getting an experience similar to what it will be like in pro ball. Also getting to be around some of the best players and that kind of atmosphere. And being around the city and area, Cape Cod, that loves baseball. Such great crowds with great people. I got to play a season there, but I didn’t get to play the full season there because my coach wanted me to rest my arm a bit because I threw quite a few innings that year.”

Credit: Monster Preps
Credit: Monster Preps

Did finishing one of your college seasons 0-11 shake your confidence as a pitcher at all?

“At first it did, after the season I had come to terms with it, but during the season it affected me. Like when I was 0 and 5, 0 and 6 it was tough because I wasn’t used to that. In the beginning of the season I wasn’t throwing well, but by the time we got to league play I was throwing the ball really well but still wasn’t getting the wins. I eventually came to terms with it and realized that it was out of my control. Kind of comes down to what I mentioned earlier about being able to control what I can control. It was something that really tested me that year though. I still had a couple of good pitching performances, and one of my best performances came against TCU that year, who later went on the play in the College World Series, and I threw 8 shut out innings at TCU. Didn’t get the win or loss, but it was still one of the proudest performances of my college career. Some of those losses were on me. I would make it to the late innings and we would be tied or whatever and I would have an inning where I would give up two runs and we would lose 3-2 or something like that. And there were other games where I threw really well and got the no decision or the other pitcher just threw as well as me and it was a pitcher’s battle. That’s how a lot of the year went. It was just something that tested my mental strength and it eventually made me stronger at the end of the year. It sort of became a joke in the clubhouse after a certain point. Nothing else you can do but laugh about it.”

What other hobbies do you have outside of baseball during your free time?

“I like to hit some golf, play some basketball here and there. I haven’t played basketball in awhile because I am starting to get more serious about baseball workouts and I don’t want to roll an ankle or anything and set myself back. Poker, I like to play poker with some buddies and have a poker night. I like to play video games, of course. I used to be in a bowling league when I was a kid. I haven’t gone in a few years but that’s something I like to do.”

Did you have a favorite team or favorite player growing up?

“Growing up I was an Angels fan. My favorite player when I was growing up was Garrett Anderson because he was a lefty hitter and I kind of modeled my swing after him. I loved watching him play and how he played the game when I was a kid. Also the Angels played close to where I grew up and where I went to college. I certainly idolized him as a kid. That was my team and my player growing up.”

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Patrick Brewer
Editorial and Prospect Writer for East Village Times. Twenty-five years young, Patrick has lived in San Diego for his entire life and has been a Padres fan nearly as long. Patrick lives for baseball and is always looking to learn new things about the game he loves through advanced stats.

1 thought on “Padres Minors: Q & A with Padres Prospect Jerry Keel

  1. Thank you Patrick! Excellent interview. Really enjoy getting more background info on these guys. Love the fact Jerry can let go of a bad pitch. You go to do that. Didn’t know he was that tall. 🙂

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