Name: Matt Lollis
DOB: September 11, 1990
Selected in the 15th-round of the 2009 MLB Draft, Lollis was viewed as a pitcher that could have been taken much earlier. They were able to come to terms with him just before the deadline to sign draft picks and believe they have a potential stud on the mound.
Lollis was 2-3 with a save and a 4.46 ERA for Riverside Community College. He appeared in 11 games, starting seven. In 40.1 innings, Lollis struck out 30 batters, while walking 10. He also allowed 47 hits and 26 runs, 20 of which were earned.
Because he signed late, Lollis saw action in just six games for the Arizona Rookie League Padres. He went 0-0 with a 5.19 ERA across 8.2 innings, giving up 11 hits and walking two while fanning seven. The opposition hit .385 off him with runners in scoring position.
"A 15th-rounder that is 6-foot-8," former AZL Padres and current Fort Wayne manager Jose Flores said. "The kid is a beast. He has a real good arm. The kid is a bulldog. He wants the ball all the time."
Lollis went on to pitch in the Padres fall Instructional League. He allowed six runs in 12 innings of work, giving up 18 hits and walking two while striking out seven. He threw 70.6 percent first-pitch strikes and tossed 10.6 percent changeups.
Nicknamed "Old Country", Lollis features a low-90s fastball that can top out at 94-95 mph. It has good movement down in the zone when he stays on top of his pitches and finishes with a strong follow through. Because of his towering stature, Lollis creates angles on his fastball much like San Diego Padres pitcher Chris Young.
There are times when his fastball flattens out – normally a byproduct of Lollis getting too low on his plant foot. That makes the angle disappear and the ball tends to fly straighter.
"We have to work on his mechanics and delivery, but I see him as a surprise," Flores said. "As big as he is, he is very athletic on the mound in the way he fields his position. He throws in the low-90s – 93 mph – but the kid is impressive. Seeing him and not knowing how much he pitched before coming to me – the impression I got is we might have something here. Hopefully, he matures and gets stronger. He is going to be good."
His secondary pitches are lacking in many respects. His curveball is loopy and does not have consistent bite. Tightening the spin and control of what can be a plus pitch is essential.
Lollis also needs to work on improving his changeup. The right-hander throws it too hard and it lacks consistent fade. Adding a pitch that goes in the opposite direction will be important, especially when facing left-handed hitters.
As he begins refining his mechanics, Lollis should be an intimidating force on the mound. He has the demeanor to be effective but the stuff suffers when he is unable to repeat his delivery.
"He has a tendency to get a little flat – his pitches do – and that is when he starts to get hit," AZL Padres pitching coach Jimmy Jones said. "He does need to work on his secondary pitches to make them sharper and a little bit tighter. If he gets it together and leans up a little bit, he can be pretty good. He falls towards the plate a little bit.
When he doesn't catch up to himself that is when the ball starts flattening out. He might still be throwing hard but it does not have that extra life. The angle of the ball is a little different and it really affects his secondary pitches. His curveball becomes loopy and slower and hangs in the zone a little too long. It is very noticeable when you are the hitter – to be able to see that pitch. That could be his size. He is only 19 and still a kid."
Right-handed hitters have been able to focus on the outside corner against Lollis with success. Attacking hitters inside must become more common to get the hitter's feet moving.
The Riverside Community College alumnus is quite an athlete for his size. He moves well around the mound and can adequately field his position.
"Matt Lollis is a very big guy, and at 6-foot-7, 230-pounds is a load and someone to watch," former Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said.
"In my reports, I made him a big leaguer in 2012 or 2013," Jones said. "He is a big guy but he moves around pretty well. He is a good athlete and does a lot of things really well."
Conclusion: Lollis has the tools to be a plus performer on the mound with his intimidating presence on the mound. What he needs to do is improve on his secondary pitches to take his game to the next level. If he can clean up his mechanics while taking advantage of his height, he will reach his considerable ceiling.
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