Image credit: (Photo by Mike Janes/Four Seam)
“From Phenom to the Farm” releases new episodes every other Tuesday featuring players whose experiences vary across the professional baseball spectrum. Players will discuss their personal experiences going from high school graduation to the life of a professional baseball player.
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The University of Arizona baseball team ended the 2007 season with many thinking that the future was bright for the program. The team won 40 games for the first time since 1989, highlighted by a 16-game win streak, then reached the Wichita Regional final as the No. 2 seed, eventually falling to the top-seeded host Shockers.
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Despite the disappointing regional loss, the Wildcats were expected to bring back a majority of their pitching staff, including two future first-round picks in Daniel Schlereth and Ryan Perry. That alone meant that there was plenty of reason for optimism in Tuscon.
That is, unless you were rising redshirt-sophomore right-hand-pitcher Brett Lorin, coming off a year that saw him throw just 9.2 innings, and the loaded returning pitching staff not giving much hope for him to top that figure in 2008.
Lorin entered the program as a preferred walk-on, redshirting as a freshman to allow for a bit more time to grow into his lanky 6-foot-7 frame. He made up for lost innings after his redshirt season in a wood bat summer league, and entered his second year at Arizona ready to contribute. However, he found himself low on the depth chart of the aforementioned deep pitching staff, many of whom unlike Lorin were on scholarship. In the few chances Lorin did get, the results certainly weren’t what he’d consider successful.
Lorin was in a tough spot. He loved Tuscon and being at Arizona; it was why he’d chosen to join the program in the first place. But, riding pine all season watching other guys pitch wasn’t something he wanted to do. Lorin felt confident in his ability and desired a chance to prove himself on the collegiate level. Not only was it a matter of pride, but Lorin held professional baseball dreams that weren’t going to be accomplished without quality innings .
“As far as leaving Arizona … I loved the school but if I was going to play pro ball I couldn’t just stay there and hang out and graduate after four years, like I was going nowhere,” Lorin said. “I wanted to see the baseball stuff through so I had to make a move.”
There can be a stigma of assuming a transferring athlete is leaving a difficult situation for an easier one, stepping into guaranteed playing time at a lower level or lesser program. That’s not quite what Brett Lorin chose to do.
Lorin transferred to a Long Beach State team that would have 11 players selected in the 2008 draft, including three future big league pitchers (Bryan Shaw, Vance Worley, and Nick Vincent) on the staff. Still, the California native felt that playing for the 2008 Dirtbags was his ticket to showcasing what he could do on the mound and getting to that next level.
Surrounded by talent, Lorin rose to the challenge, slowly working his way into Long Beach’s rotation. He began the season pitching in middle relief, then got some starts in mid-week games, and finally finished the year as the club’s Saturday starter, besting California in an NCAA regional game. Lorin wound up carrying a 2.61 ERA in what would be his only season in Long Beach. The walk-on had bet on himself, and that bet paid off handsomely.
“It was the turning point in my pre-pro ball career,” Lorin said. “When you pick a college, you’re not sure if it’s the right place, but you have to really evaluate after two years and say ‘hey is this the right place for me?’ so luckily I was able to get out of there.”
Just one year after barely being able to sniff the mound for Arizona, Lorin became the Mariners 5th round pick and was the recipient of a $170,000 bonus. Seattle felt confident in Lorin’s ability that they sent him to full season ball in his first professional summer, intent on catching him up on the innings he’d missed out on while in Tuscon. Not bad for a walk-on.
On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’, Brett Lorin joins to discuss his seven-year professional career. He’ll talk about when he knew it was time to transfer, being frustrated with how long he was stuck in the low minors, and the excitement and nervousness associated with being a Rule 5 draft pick.