Cardinals Prospect Interview: Lance Lynn

The Memphis Redbirds single-season win leader discusses his 2010 and looks ahead to 2011.

In just his second full professional season, Memphis Redbirds right-hander Lance Lynn has put himself in prime position to compete for a spot in the big-league rotation next spring. The former Ole Miss hurler and St. Louis' supplemental first-round pick in 2008 learned a lot as a 23-year old pitching in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

Although it was a season of peaks and valleys for the 6-foot-5, 250-pound workhorse, Lynn established a baseline for the 2011 campaign.

"I expected to learn a lot," said Lynn, who won a Memphis-record 13 regular-season games while striking out 141 batters in 164 innings.

"I am pretty young to be in this league and this spot I am in. I had a lot of success in the lower levels, so it was time for me to get to a level where I had to learn and work hard to have good outings. At times, I did that and got people out and at other times guys got to me. That's going to happen anywhere you go, but they got me a little more than I would have liked. But I have learned from it and developed a lot here."

Lynn demonstrated a steady level of improvement throughout the summer, especially during the months of July and August. His first outing of September, a loss to Iowa in Des Moines, was not indicative of the progress made after a horrific June, when his ERA soared to 9.28 in six starts.

Lynn recovered to win eight games over 12 starts in July and August, as the Redbirds began their annual march to the American North Division title. What really refocused eyes on him was an impressive 16-strikeout performance over seven innings to close out the first round of the PCL playoffs, in which Lynn set a new Memphis single-game strikeout record.

"I had some struggles after (my no-hit bid in April) which I would have liked not to have," Lynn said. "That was better for me than the success. I had a real bad stretch in June and to be able to come back after that and put up a good second half was encouraging. I salvaged a little bit of the season and have been able to pitch good in the team's run."

While the detractors will point to his regular-season 4.77 ERA, the bottom line is the durable right-hander was a rock in Memphis' rotation and put his team in a position to win in almost all of his outings. He would have been the Game 4 starter in the PCL finals had Memphis not been eliminated in three games.

"As a starter you want to go as deep in the game as possible, or as long as your team still has a chance to win when you come out," he said. "I pride myself on getting wins, but also when I'm not throwing well and giving up some runs, being able to keep them in it so they have a chance to win at the end."

Lynn gained experience at three levels of the Cardinals' minor league system in 2009. He spent much of his summer at Double-A Springfield where he went 11-4 with a 2.92 ERA and 98 strikeouts over 126 1/3 innings.

While the Redbirds right-hander has flashed a mix of four pitches since the beginning of his professional career, Lynn continues to refine his offerings while learning the best situations to use each one.

"The pitches that I use now I used (at the lower levels), but I might not have had to use them in situations where there were runners on," he said. "I was able to pick my times to work on something. You need to have every pitch working here, or be able to use every pitch that night to get them off my fastball. Using off-speed pitches in fastball counts is really something I had to learn."

An invitation to big-league camp in March gave Lynn the knowledge of what's expected off the field, in between starts.

"I just saw how guys worked and what they did," he said. "In the lower level, guys still don't know the routine between starts because they haven't done it. In college, you had seven days between starts so you always felt good.

"Now you have five days, so you have to do more in between starts to stay strong throughout the year. (Chris) Carpenter, (Adam) Wainwright and those guys really work hard. To be able to see that at big league camp, I now know what to expect and what it's going to be like up there.

"Next year, I plan on being in better shape since I know what it's about," he concluded.

If Lynn follows up on that promise, it might be enough to land him in the St. Louis rotation for the 2011 season.



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