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SoxProspects News

March 31, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Q&A with Lucas LeBlanc

Lucas LeBlanc was the Red Sox’ 11th-round draft pick in the 2010 draft out of Delgado Community College in New Orleans—pretty high for a guy that didn't expect to make Delgado's team in the first place when he walked on in 2009. In his 2010 season at Delgado, LeBlanc hit .420 with 89 hits and 67 RBI. Like the Red Sox' 39th overall pick, Anthony Ranaudo, and fourth-round pick, Garin Cecchini, LeBlanc was also set to play at LSU in 2011 if he had not signed; but he felt that playing professionally was his best option, and signed for $500,000 at the August 16 signing deadline. Playing professional baseball was never LeBlanc's intention; now it's his day job.

LeBlanc’s hard work since joining the organization appears to be paying dividends already. He has impressed many this spring training, and it looks likely that he will start the season with the Greenville Drive. LeBlanc sat down with Elizabeth Dreeson of SoxProspects.com to discuss his progression as a player at Delgado, as well as his time in the Red Sox organization thus far.

Elizabeth Dreeson: You were drafted in the 11th round out of Delgado Community College, but you were also committed to LSU. What were the deciding factors in choosing to go professional rather than going to LSU?
Lucas LeBlanc: Financially, I knew if I went to LSU and had a bad year or got hurt, my chances of getting drafted that high weren’t good. It was hard because I’m from Louisiana. I wanted to go to LSU, but at the end of the day, I had to take care of the family. I mean, I always wanted to play. I like the Red Sox; I wanted to play here too, I’ve got to look out for the family at the end of the day.

ED: Going back to high school, what were your strengths and weaknesses there, how did you mature at Delgado, and how are you a different player now than you were in high school?
LL: I think (in) high school, I didn’t take it as seriously as I do now. It was more of a game, time to hang out with friends. I worked hard, but I didn’t take it as seriously. I think taking it lightly has its advantages and disadvantages, but I would say in high school I played more loose, where at Delgado I developed a work ethic, coming everyday, working out, getting better. I think that’s where I’ve kind of matured as a player and gotten better.

ED: What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking it lightly?
LL: The advantages (are that) you don’t want to be up (at the plate) tense all the time, but you don’t want to take it too lightly where you’re not competing, so you have to be focused without being tensed up. Sometimes that’s hard to do when you’re competing for a spot, and you’re still trying to have fun out here. It’s still a game, but at the same time, it’s your job now, so you (have to) find that balance. (I’m) still trying to figure that out.

ED: What was your biggest challenge last year at Delgado?
LL: Just living up to the hype. I had a good year my first year, and no one really knew about me, and my first game (last season) there were fifteen scouts there. I saw them, and I think being that go-to-guy and learning to take that role and use it to my advantage was a big step, but it ended up working out. I had a good year.

ED: So you say no one really knew about you your first year, but then you were kind of a big deal your second year. What clicked? What made you the big focus?
LL: I didn’t have a Division I scholarship out of high school. I just didn’t get noticed. I was from a small town, not a big baseball school, and then I walked on at Delgado. I guess they just saw something in me, and they put me out there starting, hitting third, and I think scouts finally noticed me. I had a good year, and I had an even better year my second year, so I think just getting noticed, people coming out to see me.

ED: So you were a walk-on?
LL: I walked on at Southeastern University and got redshirted, and then I walked on at Delgado. I didn’t think I was (going to) make the team at first, and then I ended up being our starting center fielder, hitting third for two years in a row, and then I got drafted and (had) an offer at LSU.

ED: So was playing professionally always part of the plan, or did it just kind of happen?
LL: It happened. I never dreamed I’d be playing professional baseball. It kind of just went on with the plans. It’s crazy. In high school if you asked me if I was (going to) play professional baseball, no way…

ED: How did the Fall Instructional League contribute to your development and what did you see it as an opportunity for?
LL: Just getting in the routine of (being a professional baseball player). I’m being coached more here: little things like in my swing and defense. That helped me get a little better and fine tune some of my weak points. I think that’s the biggest thing from Instructs I learned: just kind of tweaking, getting everything a little bit better.

ED: So what exactly did you tweak?
LL: Hitting-wise, I was just using all hands (and) no legs, and I’m in the transition of using more legs than all hands. (In the) outfield, just defensive work: fielding the ball outside my leg, and crow hop—just (the) technique of doing everything right. I hadn’t really been coached too much in high school, so I’m learning a lot from it.

ED: So right now, what is your biggest strength and biggest weakness?
LL: My biggest strength is I have a good arm from the outfield, and I think on the bases I’m pretty quick, but I have a good approach at the plate. I would say my biggest weakness at the plate is my pitch selection: I tend to swing a little bit outside. I’m very aggressive at the plate. I would say that’s something I need to work on as well.

ED: If you had to pitch against yourself, what weaknesses would you take advantage of?
LL: I would say inside fastball, because I’ve been trying to look opposite field, so to adjust to inside fastballs is what I need to work on right now. And maybe off-speed low, off-speed away, getting myself to chase. I think I’d pitch myself pretty good, actually.

ED: Where do you think you’re going to start the season?
LL: I think in Greenville. I think I’ve proven myself. They never really got to see me play at Instructs—I was kind of hurt, beat up—but I’ve played in a couple of games. I haven’t done outstanding, but I think I’ve done well enough to earn a spot in Greenville.

ED: What was your injury in Instructs?
LL: I pulled a muscle in my labrum playing in Wisconsin, and I never really got over it. It kind of lingered, so they helped me out until I was 100%.

ED: So you’re anticipating starting in Greenville, which is obviously a full-season affiliate, which you might not necessarily be used to. How are you preparing for the daily grind?
LL: This summer I learned a lot, because this summer was the first time I dealt with failure. I didn’t hit as well as I would have liked. I didn’t live up to my expectations, and I didn’t play as long. I played for three months straight everyday, so I got a little taste of it there, but I think as far as maturity, I think I’m a lot more mature than most because of the family. I think I can handle failure better than some guys, so I think I’ll handle it well.

ED: You played in the summer league in Wisconsin you said?
LL: I played for the Madison Mallards. I was just trying to prove myself to the Red Sox that I could play. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked. I think I (kind of) hurt my draft stock, but I still went 11th.

ED: What is the biggest thing you’re working on this spring?
LL: Probably just getting to be more (of a) professional hitter—pitch selection, hitting balls opposite field—I think those are my two biggest things I’m working on. I think I’m comfortable with myself in the outfield. More hitting, being a professional hitter, is what I’m really working on the most.

ED: Who are some other players around camp that have impressed you?
LL: On the Salem field, (Kolbrin) Vitek swings it really well; I was impressed. I knew he was a first-rounder, so I was expecting it, but he really swung it well. Defensively, (Jose) Garcia at short is really good. I would say those two guys have really stood out to me

ED: What is the biggest thing fans overlook or take for granted when it comes to the game?
LL: I think behind the scenes. They see what’s on the field for three hours, (and) they’re like, “oh, you just come play for three hours.” But getting to the field at 1 for a 7 o’clock game, getting home late: it’s just a grind of playing every day for six months. Being away from family—I know I’m experiencing that right now. Bus rides at two in the morning on the way home. I think a lot of people don’t see that and don’t really understand what baseball players go through.