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Young Lollis on fast track with Padres

Young Lollis on fast track with Padres

Young Lollis on fast track with Padres
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Armed with a big right arm and plenty of leverage, Matt Lollis opted not to stick by the phone after the first eight rounds of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft had passed without a phone call.

"People told me don't go [sign] anywhere after the seventh or eighth round," said Lollis, who had just completed his first season as a pitcher with Riverside Community College.

"And I had another year of junior college. So when I didn't get any calls after the eighth round, I decided to call my buddy and go play golf."

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When the Padres called to tell Lollis they had drafted him in the 15th round, Lollis was nowhere to be found.

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When Lollis finally did call back Pete DeYoung, the Padres' West Coast scouting supervisor, he was less than encouraged by the way the Draft played out.

"Usually, when a kid is drafted, it's the highlight of his amateur career," DeYoung said. "For him, he was disappointed."

Lollis, 20, eventually bypassed his final season at Riverside and signed with the Padres for $100,000. He's moved quickly ever since.

Lollis, after an impressive performance in the Padres' rookie development program last month, was added to the list of pitchers invited to Major League camp before Spring Training got underway earlier this month.

Lollis, who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 280 pounds, has impressed manager Bud Black and pitching coach Darren Balsley with a clean and nearly effortless delivery and four good pitches.

"He's a guy with a bright future. For as young as he is, he's got a great delivery. He's a good athlete for his size -- for any size," said Balsley of Lollis, who originally signed a letter of intent to play at San Diego State, but was injured most of his senior year while playing at Riverside's Patriot High.

"He's only 20 but he's going to gain velocity. With taller guys, it usually takes them awhile to get things in sync in Spring Training. But he's clean right now."

Lollis had thrown 97 innings in the Minor Leagues, all but 8 2/3 of them last season, as he split time between short-season Eugene and Class A Fort Wayne. He went 7-4 and had a combined ERA of 2.12 in 15 starts, striking out 69 in 89 innings.

Lollis will likely begin the season at high-Class A Lake Elsinore, where he'll be one of the youngest pitchers in the league.

The Padres, who aren't shy about moving up their top prospects, would like see him advance to Double-A San Antonio this season.

"The first thing that you notice is his size, but what struck me is how he's a good athlete," DeYoung said. "We could see the potential and how clean his arm was. He had a really good feel for the strike zone."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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