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Peter Lannoo: Club Ball To Pro Ball

When Peter Lannoo first stepped on campus at Cornell University, he wasn’t quite sure of the direction his competitive baseball career would take. He enrolled just like any other student; however, with such a passion for baseball, he tried to walk on to the team as a freshman. Unfortunately for Peter, Cornell was coming off of a tremendous 2013 season and did not have any available roster spots. Under the advice of then coach Brad Walkenbach, he turned to club baseball.

After trying out again his sophomore year, he impressed the coaching staff enough to earn a fall roster spot with a chance to make the team in spring. There, he would begin his career as a reliever. As a walk on, Peter sought to outperform low expectations, as he quickly recognized that Coach Walkenbach gave everyone a fair chance to contribute.

After making six relief appearances his sophomore year, Peter transitioned to the starting rotation during the third week of his junior year. He would go on to post a 5.15 ERA over 10 appearances, of which included seven starts. In an effort to keep his arm in shape and develop, he began playing summer ball, first in 2015 in Victor, NY, and later in 2016 in North Adams, MA. “You get to see a lot more competition and the chance to play against kids from Power 5 conferences,” he explained. Peter established himself as a dominant reliever during his senior season in 2017, as he recorded 8 saves in 17 appearances.

Peter was first scouted during his sophomore year, but it wasn’t until later in his career that his profile as a professional prospect began to take shape. “I didn’t talk to anyone until my senior year after a game at Dartmouth. That’s where scouts first saw me and gave me questionnaires,” he explained. The 2017 season unfortunately ended a bit early as the team failed to qualify for the Ivy League Championship Series, but Coach Pepicelli used that time to give Peter and now St. Louis Cardinals prospect Paul Balestrieri some pro workouts. He had confidence in his players and wanted to see both pitchers gain exposure and ultimately be selected in the upcoming amateur draft that June.

As June rolled around, Peter had received a lot of interest from the San Francisco Giants and other teams, but explained that it’s challenging to understand which teams will actually follow through in the selection process. He described it as a bit of a roller coaster experience, and had the draft not worked out, Peter planned on attending Duke University to take advantage of his remaining year of eligibility. Fortunately, in the 27thround, Peter received a call from Giants scout Ray Callari informing him that the Giants were ready to make him their selection.

He began his professional career with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Northwest League, the Short-Season A affiliate of the Giants. He threw only 21 innings during his senior year, so the Giants were a bit more aggressive throwing him. “I was happy to be playing pro ball with a great organization like the Giants. Whatever they wanted me to do, I said OK. They had me both starting and relieving”. Peter threw 40 innings for the Volcanoes, making 5 starts.

Peter attributes a lot of his success to Coach Pepicelli and his coaching staff. He says what helps him the most from his Cornell career is his mental toughness. He uses the same drills that Coach Pepicelli taught him to work on being aggressive but also smart on the mound, and uses that mentality to go after hitters, refusing to back down from anyone. In fact, he still uses Coach Pepicelli as a resource today.

After 2018 Spring Training, Peter was assigned to the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League, which is the Giants Single-A affiliate. He spent just over one month in Augusta before making one brief appearance for the Richmond Flying Squirrels in May, where he struck out two batters over 1.2 scoreless innings.

After the appearance, he was sent to the High-A San Jose Giants, where he worked solely as a reliever, picking up two saves in 58 innings. As he moved up, Peter took advantage of the advanced scouting reports and hitter heat maps. “In High-A, hitters are more selective”, he said. “Good pitches will still get good hitters out, but if you leave a fastball over the plate or hang a curveball they’ll punish it.” He noted that the concentration of good hitters increases as you move up the ladder, so he has to remain aggressive and worry about making good pitches while making far less mistakes.

After his first full season as a professional, Peter explained that his favorite parts of his new career are simply getting the opportunity to play baseball everyday and getting to meet tons of new people each step of the way. He enjoys conversing with players from Latin American countries and learning about the different cultures. He understands that “it’s a dream that everyone has and not everyone gets to realize”.

As of right now, Peter does not plan on playing winter ball to give his arm some rest. He plans to start throwing and hitting the weight room in a couple of months entering Spring Training. Heading into 2019, he doesn’t know exactly where he’ll be headed, as he admits that most of the decisions are based on other guys and he can only focus on how to improve himself for the time being. As for a post-baseball career, Peter does not even like to think about it. He feels that it takes away focus and dampens his current intensity, but sees himself always being around the game, whether it’s coaching or working for a front office. Peter is one of four Cornell University students currently playing in the Minor Leagues. He will continue using the skills that he learned on campus through each part of his journey.

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