MadFriars' Interview: Wade LeBlanc

MadFriars' Interview:  Wade LeBlanc

Tucson: LHP Wade LeBlanc was drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft by the San Diego Padres. After breezing through the lower levels LeBlanc, 26, has bounced back and forth between the big club and AAA since 2008.

While he probably has one of the better changeups not only in the organization but in all of professional baseball the key for him has always been how to get movement, whether through his two-seamer or cutter on his fastball; which he has to throw the majority of the time to set up his changeup.

We caught up with Wade on the weekend before he was called up to the Padres' rotation again to talk about the changes and improvements that he has made in 2011.

The question we always talk about is fastball command, specifically the two-seam fastballs and the cutter. How has that been going?

Wade LeBlanc: There is a difference between control and command and they have both been working well. I've only really had two bad games one here and the first game of the season.

So which one have you been using?

Wade LeBlanc: Mainly the two-seamer.

In the past that has always been the pitch that gave you the most trouble. What made you go back to throwing the two-seamer?

Wade LeBlanc: I don't know really. Everyone had always wanted me to throw it more and finally something just clicked. I think its basically what it is.

So have you been throwing the two-seamer for the majority of your pitches here? Up here you could throw just two pitches - a four-seam fastball and changeup and get the majority of guys out.

Wade LeBlanc: But as you know its not about what is here, its about getting back to the big leagues. Actually the majority of my pitches are two-seamers and its just a question of working to get my release points consistent with the four-seamer, two-seamer and cutter. I'm really not even throwing that many change-ups or curves.

It might be too technical for us to understand but what was the big thing about getting more control over the two-seamer compared to in the past?

Wade LeBlanc: Just using it, which is really the same with any other pitch. Pretty much any pitch you use is going to become a feel pitch. The more you can feel three or four good ones the better you are able to memorize what you need to do with it.

Then repeat it.

It seems like the two-seamer is the toughest to control because you aren't exactly sure where it is going.

Wade LeBlanc: It's similar to the change-up in you have to trust it. Its tough here because the ball really doesn't sink, so that makes it into a pretty good challenge.

Whenever you hit you always seem to be able to put the ball in play. How are you able to do that against major league pitching when you hardly ever get to swing the bat in the minors?

Wade LeBlanc: Low expectations. [laughing] Usually if there is a runner on we are going to bunt and if its a situation where there are two outs and nobody on just swing the bat and try to make contact.

Ok, but you have done a little more than make contact. You hit .295 last year in San Diego. Did you hit any at Alabama?

Wade LeBlanc: Not once.

High school?

Wade LeBlanc: I had seven at-bats.

Didn't you ever tell anyone, hey I can hit too?

Wade LeBlanc: [laughs] That isn't my style. They want me to do something I'll do it. I'm not really someone to walk around talking about what I can do.

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