LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — It is not common for 35th-round picks to develop into high-profile prospects, but the Padres may have found a potential gem in former Lafayette College reliever David Bednar.
Bednar, 23, was the last member of the 2016 draft class to sign and he made his professional debut in short-season Tri-City, before earning a promotion to Fort Wayne. While he started in college, Bednar has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen as a pro.
As a TinCap, Bednar flashed a mid-90’s fastball and a decent curve and displayed an ability to miss bats, as he struck out nearly 11 batters per nine innings. In my first look at him last year, he was touching 95 mph with his fastball and showed a decent curveball. He has some deception in his delivery and has a bit of a three-quarter delivery.
“I got a good look at him in the Arizona Fall League. He is a reliever all the way and was hitting 96 mph with his fastball. He plays well stuff-wise and he can help a big league bullpen in the near future,” Mike Rosenbaum of MLBPipeline.com told us in an interview back in March.
Bednar has struggled with his command to start the year and has an 8.18 ERA through ten outings in the season’s first month. He is still striking out more than a batter an inning and hasn’t lost anything off of his fastball.
Bednar answered a few questions for us prior to a recent game in Lake Elsinore.
MadFriars: You were the last guy in the Padres’ draft class to sign in 2016. You came out of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. How did you end up there and what was your college experience like?
David Bednar: I chose Lafayette because it was a great mix of academics and Division I athletics. I had a good experience there. I made a lot of friends there and had a lot of support of helping me reach the goal of playing professional baseball. Overall, it was a great experience.
You were a starter in college. For me, it is always interesting to look at the differences between starting and relieving. Do you feel like pitching in the bullpen full-time is easier in terms of not having time to think in-between starts and that you could enter any game?
Bednar: I like relieving because you can sharpen your focus and just kind of blow it out for 1,2, or 3 innings, or whatever the situation might be. Overall, I just like relieving a lot.
Does the adrenaline factor of coming into the game in a stressful situation make things more exciting for you?
Bednar: Yeah, one of the things I like is just being able to throw every day. I come to the yard every day and know that I have a chance to pitch and help the team out.
You had an opportunity to pitch in the Arizona Fall League against some of the top prospects in the game. What was that experience like for you?
Bednar: The Fall League was a great experience. I went out there and competed and it was reassurance that if you stick to your routine, good things are going to happen.
When you look at some of the other guys that were around you, were you able to pick up anything from them that you could use this season?
Bednar: Yeah, I tried to take bits and pieces away from everyone and see what works best for you. But at the end of the day, it’s all about competing and pitching to the best of your ability.
When you view the overall talent and depth in the system, does that affect anything in your approach or perhaps put added pressure on you?
Bednar: There’s a lot of talented guys in the system, there’s no doubt about that. But I just try to control what I can control. I try to just worry about myself and going out each day and competing.
Your role here seems to be that of a late-inning guy. Is that where you see your future, as a closer-type of reliever.
Bednar: Yeah, absolutely. Really, it is whatever the situation is and whatever they need me to do, I will go out and throw and leave everything out there. Overall, I am just trying to stay more consistent. I am not trying to do anything too special — just trying to go out and keep grinding.