Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jason Leblebijian Interview

Today's interview is with Jason Leblebijian.  Leb, as we know him as at Bradley University (or "Lebby" to one special guy), is a shortstop in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.  Currently he is playing on the Advanced-A FSL Dunedin Blue Jays.  He took time to answer some questions about his career.  Here is a link to his MiLB player page:


1. After playing shortstop for most of your collegiate career, you were asked to play different positions in the minors.  What positions did you play and do you think learning these positions will help you advance faster?
 After being drafted at the beginning of June, I was mostly playing shortstop and occasionally third base until the middle of the summer.  It wasn't until I was moved to the Lansing Lugnuts (Class A affiliate) with about three weeks left in the season that I was playing second base.  With that being said, I had to learn to be versatile.  Playing all of those positions has taught me a great deal about the game as a whole instead of just one specific position.  Even though I spent the shortest time at second base, I learned the most while doing so.  Because it was on the other side of the field, it was like a whole new ball game to me.  I had to get used to a different take on turning double plays and feeds when starting double plays.  In regards to advancing quicker, it's tough to say.  Sure, I'd like to say that because I was able to play different positions I am more of a useful player, but there's so much more that goes into the minor league process.  However, I do feel that it definitely opens up many opportunities for the future.  

2.  You played at three levels in 2012.  Describe the jump in competition as you advance through the minors.

Throughout the entire summer I was blessed to be able to jump so quickly and compete at higher levels to better my skills as a player.  Each level that I was able to play in was at a very different level of play; the pitching and defense became more consistent day in and day out. From a hitter's standpoint, I quickly noticed that the pitchers were better and more capable off commanding their off-speed pitches, along with cutting or sinking their fastball when it was needed.  

3. What are your goals for the 2013 season? Has the club told you what to work on during the offseason? 
When I first got home in September I realized that I had lost a significant amount of weight due the constant game playing every day.  My main concern for the first two months was to get to a weight that I felt comfortable with and that I could continue to maintain; luckily, it happened to be the goal weight that the Blue Jays had wanted me to reach.  Other than that there wasn’t one specific goal that I had in my mind, there were many.  My main goal was to continue to polish off all aspects of the game.  I wanted to get to the point where I had no doubt that I was ready for spring training and the upcoming season.  The one goal I have for the 2013 season is to be capable and ready to play every day.  The Minor League system is used to develop players, and I feel that the best way to do that is by putting my body to work and getting it used to the grind of playing 200 straight days of baseball.

4. What was the buzz around the organization after the Jays acquired Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and company?

The whole organization is ecstatic.  Walking around the locker room my first day of Spring Training, I immediately sensed the feeling that everyone involved in the organization felt confident.  I think everyone has the mindset and expectations of potentially competing for the championship.     

5. What was the draft process like? What interaction did you have with scouts during your college season and the days leading up to the draft?

Throughout the season I had talked to multiple teams and believe it or not, at the time the Blue Jays were not one of them.  In fact, I only spoke with the Blue Jays scout once in the fall of my junior year and that was it until the day of the draft. He called and we immediately talked about signability.  Within seconds we had come to an agreement on what it would take for me to be in a Jay’s uniform. The draft process was honestly everything I had expected it to be.  There was a lot of waiting around and just praying that my name would be called.  

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