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Chasing The Dream: The Eric Eadington Story and Interview

Since the birth of professional baseball, Harvard has only produced 16 athletes that have appeared in at least one professional game. Eric Eadington, an Economics grad from Harvard University hopes he will make number 17. As pitchers and catchers begin taking the field this week for the 2013 edition of spring training, we take a look at left-handed pitcher Eric Eadington and his unique quest toward making his major league debut.

Eric Eadington: Quick Stats

edingtonbioTeam: Los Angeles Dodgers

Twitter: @EricEadington

Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 220 lb. Born: February 9, 1988 in Orange, California

Drafted:  Undrafted – Signed by the Dodgers as a free agent

Favorite Player: Sammy Sosa/Roger Clemens

Chasing The Dream: The Eric Eadington Story

Many famous scholars and celebrities have graduated from the prestigious Harvard University.  John Hancock penned papers there in 1754 before signing his now famous signature on the Declaration of Independence. Presidents past and present have graced the halls of Harvard including Adams, Roosevelt, Bush and Obama.  The list of graduates from this famous educational is draw-jopping.  Since the birth of professional baseball, Harvard has only produced 16 athletes that have appeared in at least one professional game. Eric Eadington, an Economics grad from Harvard University hopes he will make number 17. As pitchers and catchers begin taking the field this week for the 2013 edition of spring training, we take a look at left-handed pitcher Eric Eadington and his unique quest toward making his major league debut.

A native of the state of California, Eadington starred at Corona Del Mar High School, setting a school record for career strikeouts with 179. During his senior year, the southpaw finished with a 1.80 ERA, while striking out 98 in 58 innings. He also earned Los Angeles Times Dream Team honors. After closing the books on his high school career, Eadington enrolled at Harvard University and prepared himself to join the Crimson baseball team. Eadington had a successful freshman campaign as a member of the Crimson bullpen going 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA. The southpaw continued his impressive strike out numbers setting down 34 hitters in 32 innings and holding left-handed batters to a .125 batting average.

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Eadington went undrafted following his senior season at Harvard

Entering his sophomore season, Eadington was prepared to build on his successful freshman year when he injured his throwing arm after just two starts. After spending six months away from the game resting and rehabbing the injury, Eadington attempted to get back on the mound for some throwing sessions. Unfortunately the pain remained and he was forced to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery. After the surgery, twelve additional months of  rest, rehab and hard work took place. Finally after missing 2 seasons of Crimson baseball, Eadington returned during the 2010 season, going 3-1 with a 4.33 ERA over 27 innings.

Eadington returned to Harvard for his senior season and was out to prove he was healthy before he started his professional career. In his senior season at Harvard, Eadington struggled, going 0-7 with a 5.16 ERA as a starter. Even though the team record and Eadington’s numbers were not strong, he was able to flash a fastball that could reach 94 mph and also showed an aggressive mentality that looked to give him a future in professional baseball.

The 2011 mlb draft arrived and concluded without Eadington hearing his name called. Although he had talked to scouts and threw during workouts not one team took the leap to give Eadington a shot at his dream. Even though he was armed with a Harvard degree, Eadington was also armed with a desire not to give up on his dream of baseball. Eadington reached out to some friends who had baseball connections. One of those friends was former major league pitcher Ray Krawczyk, who was a former youth league coach of Eadington’s. After working the phones on Eadington’s behalf, Krawczyk discovered the Dodgers were looking to add a few more arms to their system. Eadington signed quickly, got in his car and headed to Arizona. He was eager to prove that he deserved a chance.

Eadington began his professional journey in the Arizona Rookie League in 2011. In nine appearances he posted an ERA of 1.59 and an eye-popping strikeout rate of 14.3/9. That earned him a late season promotion to Ogden of the Pioneer league. He continued to make ease of the competition, not allowing a run in his nine appearances. After a successful debut in professional baseball the Dodgers took an aggressive approach with Eadington during the 2012 season. Entering the year, Eadington was 24 years old and some around the game still doubted his abilities due to the lefty being older than most of the competition he faced. After appearing in just 11 games for the Great Lakes Loons of the Midwest League, the Dodgers bumped the southpaw up yet another level. Eadington spent the majority of the 2012 season closing out games for the Dodgers entry in the California League, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. In 35 games with the Quakes, Eadington shut the door 21 times while still averaging just over a strikeout an inning. Known for being a hitters league, Eadington proved hard to hit and held opposing hitters to a .261 average while yelding zero homeruns.

Late in the 2012 season Eadington earned yet another promotion, this time to the double A ranks in Chattanooga. The competition at the AA level proved to be more advanced as Eadington discovered quickly. In nine appearances as the year came to an end, Eadington went 1-2 with a 5.73 ERA but continued to average over a strikeout per inning. Beyond the Dodgers aggressive approach with Eadington, they showed even more faith in his potential at season’s end when they invited him to be one of just a handful of Dodgers prospects to represent the organization in the Arizona Fall League. Eadington was reunited with one of his Dodgers pitching coaches in the fall league, Matt Herges who continued to help the lefty with not only mechanics but his mental approach. Eadington’s experience in both double A and the AFL has prepared him for the future and what he needs to do to get more accomplished hitters out at the plate.

As pitchers begin throwing their first bullpen sessions this week and position players begin to also arrive, spring training is now officially underway. Eadington like many others look to improve their skills and get off to a good start. We will be sure to follow Eadington every step of the way, from spring training games to the last pitch of the regular season. Follow Eric on twitter @EricEadington and follow-us for updates on all our featured players at @CTD_Sypien.

Seven Questions with Eric Eadington

1. In college you had Tommy John surgery, What was that whole experience like for you?

If was frightening at first because I really didn’t know too much about it. If I would have known what I know now I wouldn’t have been so worried. At the time though, I thought it was a career ender. Once I met with the doctors I realized it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought.

After I hurt myself, I tried rehabing the injury for about six months after I did it. I had blown it out in March and I tried coming back in July.  I attempted some bullpens and It was still gone. I had my surgery in August of 2008 and it worked out well. I had a full 18 months to recover. I rehabbed and then started with bullpens. I just took things slow and made sure I was fully recovered.

2. You didn’t get drafted out of college, How did you find your opportunity to continue as a professional?

Not being drafted was one of the bigger disappointments I’ve ever had. In the back of my mind I thought maybe I wouldn’t get selected but I had been to a lot of work outs with teams and had talked to a number of scouts who are located in the northeast. No one was ever too committal though which was a concern. I figured I could get it up there at 92 or 93 and I’m a lefty and that would be enough to get selected.

After the draft I decided that I did not want to stop playing baseball. I started to call some people who I knew around baseball my college coach at Harvard was also helping me out making some calls. The guy who really helped me out was Ray Krawczyk who was a former youth pitching coach of mine. He was a former scout with the Giants and had some connections around baseball. He had a friend who knew Logan White and Sean Watson (of the Dodgers) and heard they were looking for some pitching. I ended up getting in through that. I was going to throw a bullpen for them but they ended up just talking to their northeast scout and he called me and asked me if I was ready to play baseball?

3. Last season you got to experience three different levels of baseball. What was the biggest difference between levels for you?

The jump from A to high A was more of a location jump and getting used to a new group of guys. The baseball was really similar. The big jump took place when I made it to AA. I realized I needed to make some adjustments. In A ball you can throw your fastball and no matter where it was you could get by on your stuff alone. In AA you learn really quick you got to keep the ball down and start making smart pitches. Also I started mixing things up. I started doing things like throwing first pitch sliders coming in relief which is something I never really did before. I was lucky enough to have Chuck Grimm there who is now our big league bullpen coach. He was awesome and I learned a lot from him about being a reliever and attacking batters.

4. Has there been a coach or instructor that has really helped you along you way in your professional journey?

I’ve been really fortunate with the Dodgers. I’ve gotten to go to a number of instructional camps. I was just back in Arizona last week for a young guns camp and pretty much every pitching coach in the Dodgers organization was there. I was working with Rick Honeycutt on some new stuff. I also had Matt Herges when I was in High A and he was extremely helpful on the mental side of the game. He really is a great guy to go to just like Chuck Grimm was, both Herges and Grimm have really taught me how to be a reliever. They both have years of major league experience.

5. Last season you had some opportunities to close out games. How do you prepare differently in the bullpen compared to when you started in College.

For me it was a pretty easy transition. I think I naturally always was better suited for a relief role. In college the best guys are always the starters. I have a go at every hitter mindset. That hurt me sometimes as a starter. As a reliever I’m able to go ate every hitter with my best stuff, 100% every single pitch.

6. You got to play in the Arizona Fall League this past off-season. What was that experience like for you?

It was a huge honor! It caught me by surprise. At the start of the year it was one of the lofty goals I had set for myself to play in the fall league. Even though things like that are mostly out of  my control. I wanted to make it to AA and also play in the fall league. Matt Herges actually tipped me off before I officially found out. It was really cool to find out from him. It’s a really fun place to play and a different experience. Matt Herges calls it a “Showcase” for players who have who have earned their spots. I just went out there and had fun. It was tough competition but it was a lot of fun.

7. What are your goals for Spring Training this year?

I try to avoid things I can’t control, ultimately of course I want to be in the big leagues. I just got to work on things I need to work on, like my slider. I just picked the pitch up last year so it’s a new pitch to me. If I can improve my fastball command, continue to work on my slider and the change-up verse right-handed hitters I can put myself to be in a good place.

A Few For Fun

1. Favorite baseball player growing up?

When the Sosa/McGuire thing was going on that was a lot of fun. I was a big Sammy Sosa fan. It’s funny to say that now knowing everything about him. When you’re a kid you really don’t know whats happening behind the scenes though.

Roger Clemens – I really liked watching him as well. There was always a few guys I liked to watch.

2. Being a Bullpen guy. Any bullpen stories or pranks you can share from being down in the Pen?

When I was in Midland we had a really fun bullpen and we got into this competition of sorts with the bullpen guys from Burlington. We had a dance off and some other crowd pleasers. At one point they snuck a guy behind the fence and water ballooned us! We tried to get revenge on them but their fence was locked off. They ended up getting the best of us that time.

3. If you weren’t playing baseball what would you be doing with your degree from Harvard?

Most likely I’d be working in Finance if I had to take a guess. I worked at Merrell Lynch for a short time while I was in college. I also worked a bit as an intern for the Dodgers for 6 or 8 weeks when I was recovering from Tommy John surgery. I also did some hedge fund work for  3 or 4 months when I was out of school.

4. Favorite TV show?

I watch a lot of T.V. Dexter and Homeland are two of my favorites though. I also like Californiacation an Boardwalk Empire. I try to stay on top of my shows as much as I can.

A special thanks to Eric Eadington for taking some time out of his last week off before spring training to answer some questions and share some great stories with us. We look forward to following him all season long and into the future. Please give Eric a follow on twitter @EricEadington and like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter @CTD_Sypien as we continue to feature and follow all of our featured players as they chase their way to the major leagues.

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