Sometimes in the game of baseball things happen that you just don’t understand. Every once in a while you just have to go with it and not question what task is put in front of you. The game of baseball is like life in that regard. Move forward and don’t dwell on the past or you will never find success and happiness.
When Brad Wieck was informed by the San Diego Padres that he would be pitching out of the bullpen to start the 2016 season, he took it as a challenge. It would be easy to be upset but the tall left-handed pitcher embraces the move and is eager to get started. His response was simple. “I love starting, but I love pitching even more,” he said. “Just give me the rock and I’ll do what I do.” He will be given that “rock” and you can be sure Wieck will be prepared.
He already has experience closing out games, as Wieck at one time was the closer for his collegiate team. At the Oklahoma City University, Wieck was flat-out dominant. He recorded five saves for the team in 2014 as a junior. That year he also had three shutouts (four complete games) and was 5-5 on the season. He recorded a 3.23 ERA in 69.2 innings of work while striking out an incredible 118 batters. That is a 15.24 strikeout rate per nine innings. Simply unreal. It was his redshirt junior year, but Wieck had a good idea he was going to be drafted. The decision to go pro, wasn’t that difficult to make for him.
“I knew going into the draft that I threw the ball good enough to be drafted. Twenty out of the 30 teams were talking to me. My goal was to go in the top 10 rounds of the draft. That is what I wanted. The Padres were actually interested in me. The Mets picked me in the seventh round, but I heard the Padres were ready to take me in the eighth round.”
The Padres scouted Wieck heavily and were very satisfied with what they saw from the big lefty. He was traded to the Padres with Cory Mazzoni for Alex Torres in March of 2015. Since MLB rules prohibited trading players within one year of being drafted, Wieck was labeled in the deal as a player to be named later. He spent the first three months of his first pro season with the Mets before being officially acquired by the team in June.
Wieck stated that he was extremely excited to come to the Padres. He explained that the Mets have a deep young starting staff at the moment, and he felt he would have way more opportunities to pitch with the Padres. When asked about the franchise, the prospect replied, “The Padres have treated me well and I am very happy to be here.” He understands the business side of the game and that being in the right place at the right time has a lot to do with success. Wieck has the right attitude about the game and that should take him far.
The 24-year-old has gone back to a three-quarters delivery. While with the Mets, the team wanted him to throw more over the top. He was asked to make that adjustment, which he did. Now with the Padres the team wants him to use both arm slots. The three-quarters delivery against left-handed hitters is very tough, especially from a 6′ 9″ lefty pitcher. Wieck said, “I’m going to wear left-handed batters out with my three-quarters arm slot.” This is true and at the very least Wieck should be successful as a situational lefty in the big leagues someday.
He has much higher hopes than that though. He loves to pitch and you get a sense talking to him that he wants the ball when the game is on the line. Those type of competitors are rare and that type of intensity should be fed. Do not be surprised if Wieck ends up closing this season. He is filthy on lefties and with a little more consistency he could be very solid at the end of the ‘pen.
The tall left-hander can also use his stature as an intimidation factor. Just like his idols Randy Johnson and Chris Sale, Wieck said, “Having an intimidation factor is a nice thing to have. Teams see a six-foot nine-inch lefty come out to pitch against them, and immediately they get uncomfortable.” He has an aggressive attitude about himself and the way he pitches. Weick is not afraid to attack hitters and in fact one of the first things he said was, ” I have been carving some people up this Spring.”
With a little more seasoning Wieck could make a rapid ascent through the Padres minor league system. He is barely going to be in his second full year of pro ball, so he still has some time to develop. With his arsenal of fastball, changeup, and slider he has the combination to be a starter. The slider is a new pitch for him. He told me his slider is developing, but that he is very excited to use it from his three-quarters delivery. Brad also told me that Glendon Rusch has been very important to him in trusting his new delivery. He told Brad to “trust the process.” This young man is one to take advice and with that being said, he should make some interesting adjustments this year.
Expect Wieck to start the season in High-A Lake Elsinore, with an outside chance of making it to San Antonio this year. The native Texan would love to play closer to home. It would surely make the drive for friends and family a lot easier. Still no matter where he pitches or in what capacity, this big south paw loves to throw the rock. That is the type of attitude you want infesting the Padres minor league system. We wish Brad Wieck all the luck in the world. He has the talent and ability, he just needs the chance and positive fortune to succeed.