, 20, admitted that he was surprised by the timing of his selection by the Mets in last June's draft. Yet the young right-hander, who could only play competitive baseball an average of two months per season while growing up because of Quebec's cold springs, impressed the organization enough to warrant an early selection.
His appealing attributes carried over to the Gulf Coast League where Leduc smoothly navigated through 20.1 innings pitched in six appearances [three starts], compiling a 2.21 ERA and high groundball ratio along the way. He worked over hitters with a high-80s fastball with good movement, a strong changeup and a budding curveball. However, going into 2008, Leduc knows he needs improvement in all three to succeed at higher levels.
"More than any other pitch, I put a lot of effort into my curveball because at the level I'm at right now, the curveball is too easy to hit. I need to put more speed and late break on it, but it's the pitch I've worked on the most and improved the most."
"The thing is, I'm going to use the pitch more when I try and get hitters chase the ball. When I do get more speed on it, it will look a fastball coming out and I should be able to get more guys chasing the ball down and away.
To pair with the curveball, which he increased in velocity from the low-70s to the upper-70s, Leduc set out to strength his already deceiving changeup. He relies on the pitch more than any when ahead in the count and in pressure situations, so when confronting the prospect of pitching in higher levels, he wants to ensure it is even more effective when needed.
"I think my changeup is really going to be the pitch that will get me out of big innings. I think it's getting even better. I threw a live batting practice the other day and nobody was even close to my changeup. They weren't even catching up to it, and it was the pitch I could get strikes and groundballs which I will need to get outs," he explained.
Lastly, Leduc hopes to attain my velocity on his fastball in large part to all the weight training he committed to during the winter. As a rookie, his fastball typically sat anywhere from 87-89 MPH, but moving forward, he would like to reach his target of 90-91 MPH.
"I'm still loosening up my arm up, but I think all the weight training I did will really give me more velocity on my fastball. I think Spring Training will give me the speed and let me keep my arm fresh, and I think I will have maybe two or three extra miles per hour on my fastball, and then keep that speed on my fastball through the first four innings of a game," detailed Leduc.
Aside from building his pitches, Leduc tweaked his approach so that he will move away from attempting to strike every hitter out into a pitcher who stays ahead of hitters and induces contact.
"The thing I was really good at last year was finding and taking advantage of the weaknesses of the hitters and getting groundballs and that came with a change in my mentality," said Leduc. "Getting groundballs and just going after hitters will keep my pitch count per inning down and just make it easier for me to last longer in games."
"That strategy really got me far because the lesser pitches gave me more success, and it was something I kept working on during the Instructional League. If I can keep doing that, I won't give up too many big innings."
Now, after a long energy-packed winter, Leduc has found his comfort zone in his first Spring Training. He is eager to earn his way to a starter's spot on a long-season squad and make an impression as he squares off against hitters from higher levels of the organization.
"I feel like I've learned more in my short time here in Spring Training than I have in my entire life, and it feels good to be put out there and challenge the higher ranked players. I'm trying to get to their level and so pitching to them is be a challenge, but a good one. It's lets me show the coaches what I can do without the pressure of being a rookie," admitted Leduc.
The French-Canadian right-hander was a sixth round draft pick in 2007, and while the transition to the Gulf Coast League could have been a cause for struggles, Guillaume Leduc quickly settled into his role. After his light workload during his rookie season, Leduc geared up over the winter with hopes of a strong Spring Training to propel him into the regular season.