MadFriars' Interview: Lee Orr

SAN ANTONIO, TX: Lee Orr, 25, was one of those guys in high school everyone always envied, a good student and talented enough to have the opportunity to play two sports at the next level.

Despite having a football scholarship to West Texas A&M, Orr followed the sport he liked best and went to McNeese State in Lake Charles, Louisiana where after a four year career he finished off with a slash line of .298/.396/.575.

Last year in Lake Elsinore he had his best year so far in the organization hitting .276/329/.481 with some wild variations in which he hit .378 in April, .138 in May and .291/.328/.491 in August and September.

This year he has had trouble getting consistent at-bats at first base and in the outfield and has struggled against AA pitching in San Antonio with a .159 batting average.

When he's on, he gives the Padres an interesting right-handed power option that can play either corner outfield spot, first and can fill in as an emergency third baseman.

You played with Jace Peterson at McNeese State. Could you give us an idea of your high school career and how you got to McNeese?

Lee Orr: In high school I went to El Campo High, which is about two hours from San Antonio to the east. I was going to go play college football, I was committed to West Texas A&M as a wide receiver and defensive back.

Towards the end of the summer of my senior year I was playing in a tournament in Louisiana and one of the coaches on McNeese asked me after one of the games if I wanted to play college baseball. The next day the head coach of McNeese State called me up and offered me a pretty good scholarship without ever seeing me play. So I ended up going there and giving up football.

I ended up signing there in the beginning of August and started school ten days later; so everything happened really quick.

I really enjoyed it and played with Jace for three years and then we got drafted together and we ended up playing together again.

You didn't play football at McNeese State. You were pretty good in both, how come you didn't end up playing football too?

Lee Orr: I wanted too but there were rules if you were on a baseball scholarship you couldn't play football but if you were on a football scholarship you could play baseball.

The coaches asked me if I wanted too but I couldn't give up my scholarship. Also with summer ball I was pretty much playing baseball year around. It would have been tough for me.

You must have been pretty excited to not only get drafted but to also go to the same team with Jace.

Lee Orr: Definitely. I was gone the night that he got drafted. I was playing my last game in the summer league and I drove back to Lake Charles that night. I was staying at his house when I found out I was drafted by the Padres the next day.

His family is like my second family. It was a pretty awesome deal and have always been happy for all the success that Jace has received since he has been here.

What was the biggest adjustment for you coming into pro ball?

Lee Orr: The pitching. In college you might face a Friday night starter who was pretty good and then it falls off. Here everyone was the Friday night starter or a high school guy that was better than the Friday night starters. There aren't any gimmes.

We always hear that what gets to hitters the most is not the velocity but the change of speeds?

Lee Orr: That is the main thing. Also not only do they throw hard but its also with movement; especially the cutter. If someone is throwing a really good cutter it is nearly impossible to barrel that thing up.

I mean Mariano Rivera threw that one pitch for twenty years and had a pretty nice career. The key is going up there with a game plan or you aren't going to do it.

At Lake Elsinore last year you had some good months and some really down months. On one hand it had to give you some confidence having the high that you know its in you, but just about consistency.

Lee Orr: I believe in myself and trust in my abilities but for some reason I go into these lulls. I know sooner or later its going to click. You need to keep the good memories in your head and try to chase out the bad ones.

When I talk to either position player or pitchers at this level its all about learning how to get the mental discipline to bring out your best performance on a consistent basis.

Lee Orr: It's a tough game. I get out seven times out of ten at-bats, I'm good - but at the same time it's hard to wrap your head around that. Whenever it's going good it feels so good because you know how hard it is.

When things are going well, it's like tunnel vision. You hear nothing you are just so locked in. Although any time it's happening if you get to cocky it's going to come back at you.

A former hitting coach with the Padres, Tom Tornincasa, said that when you get to AA the plate is 18 inches and you can cover 12. So you have to pick either middle-in, middle or the opposite.

So do you try to mix it up where you are looking, since most of you guys like the ball middle-in?

Lee Orr: I try to look away. When I am going good I have my arms extended. I'm looking for something not to high and if its out there I can still pull it but I will also use the whole field more.

I'm not very good sitting in because I hook it too much. It's all about having a plan and not trying to cover too much of the plate.

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