PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – When it comes to 23-year old pitcher Payton Lobdell, one word comes to mind: Experience. Because of that experience, he finds himself pitching on the independent circuit, trying to pave his own path to the big leagues.
Lobdell is about to complete his first season of professional baseball with the Lake Erie Crushers of the Independent Professional Frontier League. His rookie season has had it’s fair share of ups and downs, but all in all, he’s put together a very respectful rookie campaign. Lobdell has logged 83.2 innings, earning a 6-7 record and a 5.81 ERA.
The Huntington Beach native pitched for the Power during the 2016 season and went on to pitch once again in the 2017 California Winter League. In a recent interview, Payton talks about how his time with the Power and the California Winter League helped prepare him for professional baseball.
Why did you choose to take part in the California Winter League?
“Originally, I had looked into the CWL to possibly further my life in baseball. Once Casey (Dill) told me that it would probably be in my best interest to play in the CWL, not just for the exposure but the experience, that’s when I chose to attend.”
Was the value of the CWL experience everything you thought it would be?
“The CWL was a lot of fun and something I’ll never forget. Coming out of college, I didn’t have too many options to continue playing so I went out of my way to try and find a job. The CWL made it much easier to showcase my skills and eventually land a job in the Frontier League. From a player’s perspective, you get what you pay for here, absolutely. I saw my time here as a great investment into my career.”
How has the CWL helped you with your professional baseball career?
“The CWL basically started my professional career. They gave me the opportunity to play in front of major league scouts from around the nation and eventually landed me my first job, with the Southern Illinois Miners.
What types of players do you think would benefit from the CWL?
“College seniors that are out of eligibility that were looked over during the draft I feel have a great opportunity to get looked at in the CWL. That’s what I was and it worked out for me. You will get looked at here.”
What were you able to learn from this experience? Do you feel you have improved as a baseball player?
“Absolutely. The CWL is hands down one of the best leagues I’ve played in competition-wise. It really brings out the best in you. When you’re playing with 200+ guys out there trying to earn a job, you realize what you’re made of and try to bring out the best of yourself. I have definitely improved after getting the experience with coaches and scouts here.”
What are your thoughts on the Palm Springs Power summer league and what did you take away from that experience?
“Pitching for the Power was the best summer ball experience I’ve had. Even though it is hot here, my teammates and the staff found ways to make it a fun experience each and every day. The coaching staff definitely helped me improve my game and prepare me for professional ball.”