Ex-Woodford standout Hollon setting high goals in Blue Jays' camp

Toronto ObserverMarch 6, 2014 

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Clint Hollon is no stranger to the spotlight.

The 19-year-old Toronto Blue Jays minor-league pitcher embraces the pressure that comes with being a highly touted prospect, citing the phrase "pressure makes dominance" as a personal motto.

Being front and center on the baseball stage from an early age has helped Hollon become comfortable under the professional sports microscope.

"I was No. 1 in the nation on Perfect Game and ESPN and all that stuff for a while," Hollon said, standing under a cloudy sky at the team's minor-league complex this week. "I've had a lot of expectations on me since I was young, and I thrive off that."

Expectations are high from others, but Hollon puts pressure on himself to perform to the best of his abilities.

One year removed from playing high school baseball at Woodford County High School, the young right-hander believes he could pitch for the Lansing Lugnuts, the Blue Jays' Low Class-A affiliate.

That would be accomplishment enough for a player entering his first full season of professional baseball, but Hollon has his sights set even higher, on the Class-A Advanced Florida State League.

"I told (my coaches) that I plan on ending the season in Dunedin, which is an even greater goal," Hollon said. "I feel like if you put hard expectations on yourself, then it's going to make you work harder to get there."

Hollon, a Lexington native, saw his stock slip in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft because of a bout with shoulder tendinitis. Widely regarded as a first-round pick, Hollon fell to the Blue Jays in the second round, the 47th overall selection.

If the 2013 Rawlings First Team All-American needed any extra motivation, being passed over by so many teams did the trick.

"How I feel is that anyone who passed on me in the draft is going to regret it," Hollon said. "That's really what I'm out to prove more than anything.

"Anyone that questioned my love for the game or how good I was going to be, my size, or anything like that, I'm just out to prove that I can be what everybody expects me to be."

The young pitcher showed glimpses of what could be possible in four games for the rookie-class Gulf Coast League Blue Jays last summer. In 12 innings of work, he did not allow a run and conceded only two hits.

Hollon has plenty of talent, but he also seems to have the confidence needed to succeed in professional baseball.

"I feel like all my pitches are good," Hollon said. "All of them could use a little work, but I feel like all of them have the potential to be above-average major-league pitches."

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