With a plus two-seam fastball, spike curve and a good change-up Lemond probably would have been taken higher in the draft if not for a soreness in his lower right arm that sidelined him for a few weeks.
“In a way that was one of the best things that could have happened from a Padres’ perspective,” said Jim Callis, who covers the minor leagues, college baseball and the draft for MLB.com.
“By taking a little bit of risk San Diego may have taken someone who could be much better than his draft position.”
Last season for Eugene the Padres used Lemond as both a starter and reliever, being careful with his innings after a long college season. He posted a 3.79 ERA in 38 innings with a 34/5 strikeout-to-base-n-balls ratio for the Emeralds and threw a nice cameo appearance in his native Texas for the AA San Antonio Missions that saw his toss four scoreless innings.
We caught up with Zech in Peoria to find out how his first professional off-season went.
Now you have your first pro season under your belt what were some of the things that you tried to work on this off-season?
Zech Lemond: Going into this off-season wanting to put on 15 pounds and I made it. I took a couple of weeks off and then started to get after it.
So I was 195 when I started and now I am 6-2, 210 lbs.
The Padres seem to see you as a starter as opposed to the relief role that you had for your first two years at Rice.
Zech Lemond: Pretty much. I am trying to get as many starts as possible and get as many wins for my team as possible.
When I spoke with you in Eugene you seemed to have a simple philosophy when asked the differences between being a starter and reliever.
You said, “It’s just pitching.”
Zech Lemond: Definitely, always has been and always will be.
When you pitch you don’t differentiate about sequences as a starter compared to coming in as a reliever and trying to blow guys away?
Zech Lemond: There are definitely things that go into it but for me it always comes back to, get the guy out.
Are you still throwing the same pitches as last year?
Zech Lemond: Mainly two-seamers, change-up and slider. I throw a few four-seamer, but rarely.
No more spike curve ball?
Zech Lemond: It is still the spike but looks like more of a slider.
What is the difference on a spike curve as compared to a regular one?
Zech Lemond: Mine kind of comes out like a slider and I have the ability to make it into more of a slider or get some downward action with it.
What is your velocity on the two-seamer?
Zech Lemond: My two-seamer is really just as fast as my four-seamer. My velocity is around 92 to 95 and I can touch 97.
You had a little bit of arm problems at Rice and had a few nagging injuries at Eugene. How do you feel now?
Zech Lemond: Everything feels good. My body feels great and I’m ready to rock’n roll.