There were a few surprises during the 2018 season for the San Diego Padres. Several players emerged from the pack as the season unfolded for the Friars.
Converted catcher and career minor leaguer, Robert Stock made a very favorable impression on Andy Green and the Padres staff early last year. In Peoria, Stock caught the attention of his manager for his ability to throw hard. He also featured a developing slider. After starting the year in the minors, the right-handed pitcher became a very important part of the bullpen for the Padres late last season.
With under one year of service time under his belt, Stock seems extra motivated to show his worth. He is utilizing everything he can to get better. If there is a new technology, then chances are Stock has heard of it and dabbled in it. This new generation of pitchers brings a savvy analytical spin in their quest to improve.
The Rapsodo machine is something that Rober Stock is familiar with. The data derived from the machine dissects spin on the ball which can improve a pitchers ability. Stock knows the capability of the technology. “It (Rapsodo machine) is something that I use in the offseason. The Padres have it set up in our bullpens. It is great feedback to have if you know what to do with it,” said Stock as he lit up talking about the system.
“The coaches know how to use it. Not only do we have the Rapsodo machine but we have they extremely slow-motion cameras as well (edgertronic cameras). I saw one of the coaches in there the other day looking at why a players changeup moves the way it does,” said Stock. You could sense that he was excited about the usage of the machines. Not every player in camp has bought into the technology, but Stock surely has and uses instant feedback to make adjustments. “Last year, my fastball was fast. But it didn’t miss that many bats. So you can look at another aspect of a pitch besides velocity. You can see spin efficiency, your spin axis as well as spin rate,” said Stock. He is certainly embracing this technology and making adjustments. At 29, Robert Stock wants to stay in the major leagues.
Podcasting is something that Robert has recently started doing. He and his brother (a minor leaguer pitcher), both take to the air and talk about all things baseball or whatever comes to mind. “It is fun (podcasting). Some of the things I’ve done to get myself to the major leagues are unique to what most people do or think. I’m not telling people there is only one way to do things. I’m just kind of sharing things,” stated Stock proudly. He has embraced his individualism. The right-handed pitcher has worked very hard to get to where he is and certainly cherishes what made him a major leaguer.
Padres fans have crowned Stock, the honorary king of Twitter. He is interactive on the app with fans as he continues to just be himself. Which the fans love. “You can tell that these fans really care about the Padres, the Padres players, and the team winning games. It’s fun when they come out to the games and say I’m so and so from Twitter,” said Stock. The fans of the city love players that take the time for them. Robert Stock seems to always consider the fan base and that does go a long way.
The left-handed hitter recorded 680 at-bats in the minor leagues and slugged 10 homers in the Cardinals system from 2009 through 2011. He has yet to record that first major league at-bat though the feeling of it would be incredible for him once it finally comes. “That would be a lot of fun. That would be a lot of fun,” said Stock. In time perhaps the situation will come up where he is allowed to take some hacks in the box.
The converted catcher has had the opportunity to play in over 180 games at the minor league level. You would think that being a receiver would help in toeing the rubber. “In theory being a catcher should help you on the offensive side of it, but I think it mostly helps you with selecting the correct pitch to throw in each situation. But then you get out on the mound I understand that doing that is very hard. I haven’t found much crossover between the two,” said Stock with a chuckle.
Robert Stock throws often as he continually wants to build arm strength in his right arm. He is on a quest to throw 105 mph. Even though he is throwing harder than he ever has, he is also showing improved control with his stuff. “My training style has been to continue to try to throw harder. In doing so you become more efficient, and that efficiency leads to better command,” said Stock.
When speaking about Stock with manager Andy Green, he would like to see the pitcher pound the strike zone and get ahead. “That is the key for me. Especially with breaking pitches. Then the at-bat is going to go in my favor almost all the time,” said Stock. If he gets ahead in the count against a batter, good things happen for the hurler.
The game of baseball can be rough. It will eat you alive if you let it. Stock was a second-round pick of the Cardinals in 2009 as a catcher. Three years after that St. Louis asked him to move to pitcher. And two years after that, they released him. “All the failures I have had from the past have taught me that even if you do fail, there is still tomorrow. You don’t get too scared of failure, because you have been there and you have done it,” said Stock. With a mentality like that, you can be sure that the value of Robert Stock is on the rise for the San Diego Padres.