Padres Prospect Interview: Matt Lollis

Matt Lollis had a world of potential coming out of school and showed his prospect status with a magnificent year split between Eugene and Fort Wayne.

Matt, you signed pretty late with the Padres, a 15th rounder. Did you always think you were going to sign at that time?

Matt Lollis: Yeah, I did. Being in the draft, I wanted to go a little higher. I said, ‘If I don't go, I can go back to my junior college and try again next year.' I thought about it for a while. It was an opportunity I may not get again. Just take it and see what I can do with it.

What was the maturation process for you from high school through Riverside Community College to professional ball in terms of baseball?

Matt Lollis: I grew a lot in Junior College. I got a lot stronger. I felt like I got better command. In high school, I threw kind of hard, so you can just miss spots. In JuCo, I learned how to spot up a little better. I threw my secondary pitches a lot better. I felt like I was ready to play pro-ball and give it a shot.

Talk a little bit about your pitches and the speeds you throw them at. I'm not too familiar with that.

Matt Lollis: Well, I've out in Eugene and Fort Wayne It was 90, 94. I had a couple 94s. I throw a knuckle-curve, a slider, and a changeup. I feel like my changeup is one of my better off-speed pitches. I'm just picking up the slider right now in instructs. I'm working on that right now. It's coming along pretty good.

Is there such a thing as too many pitches? You have a few, and it seems like you're always trying to master every one. Is there ever such a thing as too many pitches?

Matt Lollis: Maybe. There could be. I don't throw too many breaking balls. I throw a couple of those, but I like to stay with a fastball or changeup. I work off those two. I just throw a breaking ball or a slider in there, just to give the hitter something else to look for. I really try to command both sides of the plate with the fastball and then using my other pitches as little as I can. I try to get hitters out as quickly as possible, stay in the game as long as I can.

You don't see many pitches with any knuckle anything anymore. Obviously, there's are very few true knuckle ball pitchers, that I've seen in a long time. Even a knuckle-curve. What's the benefit for you when you're throwing that pitch?

Matt Lollis: Even in high school, I did throw both a slider and a curveball. At times, I would throw them both the same way. I'd get in trouble in between each pitch. They looked the same. At the end of the high school season, I started to throw a knuckle curve. It's more of a 12-to-6 break. I worked to get on top of the ball, which gave it a different break from the slider. It helped me out and I've still kept that going.

So, was it really just all about the grip? If you're throwing the two pitches the same, the grip has helped that much?

Matt Lollis: Yeah. The grip really makes me focus on getting on top of the ball and getting a twelve to six break instead of having a slider that breaks down and away and a curveball that breaks down and away. The curveball will break away a little bit, but it's mostly down. Down action.

You're obviously a tall guy. How difficult is it to keep those mechanics in check?

Matt Lollis: It's really tough. You get one little thing out of whack, it's magnified when you're a bigger guy. Some of the little guys can get away with stuff. As a bigger guy, you really have to work on mechanics every day. You can't take a day off with it. You have to really focus on it all day, every day. Just keep working on it.

Do you mentally go through it as you're pitching, maybe perhaps in the bullpen during warmups, so that maybe during the game you don't even have to think about it?

Matt Lollis: Right now in practices. That's why I really focus on the mechanics. Once I get in the pen, I just trust myself that my mechanics will get me where I need to be. I try not to think out there. I just take a look at the sign, trust the catcher, trust what I feel to throw, and try to think as least as possible.

Do you feel like you get that downward plane to change the hitter's eye level, especially as a tall guy? Everyone talks about that downward plane, you need that downward plane. Some guys, though, whether they're not standing up tall, their arm drags, they're a little more three-quarters… how do you feel?

Matt Lollis: There are times where I feel like I'm really good. There are outings where I feel like I have a great downward plane. There are other days where I am still trying it myself. I'm still kind of young. I'm still trying to find out how to get that downward plane every pitch. There's been a few times I've been standing up, leave the ball up and I'll get hurt. I think it's 50-50. I'm up and down. I'm really working on that out here getting my mechanics in so I can stay in the bottom of the zone as much as possible.

Do you feel like you've had any mental challenges since signing? You have dealt with the heat in Arizona and three different leagues so far.

Matt Lollis: That's not really a problem. It's pro-ball. You have to deal with your circumstances. This is nothing compared to when you get up higher and you have 50,000 fans. You have to deal with the circumstances you're in. I try not to think about anything like that. I just do what I've got to do, do my job, and try to work as fast as I can.

As a guy who signs late, did you feel like there's pressure that you need to show them quickly because I was one of the last guys in here.

Matt Lollis: I thought about that, and then when I got here, they didn't seem like they were going to rush me that bad. I got out here, threw a side, and I was in a game within a week. I never really felt rushed. I felt good. I felt ready to pitch. They asked me, "how you feeling?" I didn't throw too many innings in junior college, so I was still pretty fresh. I didn't feel rushed, and I was glad to get some more innings in this year. I'll come back and workout during the off-season and hope to come back and do well at spring training.

You mentioned you're working on a couple things here. Is there something specifically that you really want to perfext?

Matt Lollis: Yeah. Coach Cooch has got me working on a slider out here. I've usually been the kind of guy that steps across my body. I've really been working on changing my line to the plate, and I've come a long way with that. My line to the plate is pretty much straight now. It used to be kind of a cross fire. Right now, I'm doing pretty well, working on my mechanics and staying back, not throwing off the mound. Staying back and driving off the mound, not just falling down the mound.

Now, it's a Catch-22 in a sense. The throwing cross body could be a deception thing versus staying on line and maybe a hitter picks it up.

Matt Lollis: Well, I feel when I was crossing over, I wasn't having as much velocity. I felt it more in my arm, and I also got hurt my senior year in high school because of that. Throwing so much across the body is so much strain. Now, going straight to the plate feels free and easy. I feel a lot more comfortable with that now that I've been working on it. I feel like I have better control.

What's the off season going to be like for you?

Matt Lollis: It's going to be a lot of working out, a lot of running. I'll take maybe three or four weeks off of throwing and just run, condition, and get myself in the best shape I can get to come back out here. Feel my bullpens back home. Just work my butt off in spring training and try to move up as quickly as I can.

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