Jason Leblebijian wasn’t a household name throughout his career, and was never a top prospect. But the 25th rounder is having his best season in Buffalo and striving for an MLB call-up. Currently, Leblebijian is hitting .310 with 8 home runs and 41 RBI’s.
However it wasn’t always easy for Leblebijian. It all started with his crazy path to baseball. His parents were from the middle east and didn’t know much about the game but his dad decided to get his sons into the sport. “I think I was 9 or 10 years old, and my dad came here when he was 5 months old so he is pretty Americanized, but one day he just came home and told me and my brother he signed us up for little league. And that is pretty much it. I remember my 1st game actually, getting on base and stealing second and thinking it was like 1st base and running right through it and right into the outfield, and eventually was tagged out but that is how it started”
From there on the passion for the game baseball only grew, and with it he only got better and better. And in 2012, in the 25th round of the MLB draft, Jason Leblebijian’s life changed forever as he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. “Oh it was extremely special, you know it is kinda funny though. Because the day my dad signed me up for little league, and my mom basically said why is he going to play baseball. And just going through, high school ball, college ball, travel ball, and finally getting to hear your name called is definitely a special moment.”
Unfortunately for Leblebijian he had a slow trip up the minor league systen, whenever he got promoted to High A, it would follow with a demotion to low A. And this went on for about four seasons spending time in Class A, and many thought his career was over. “Honestly, yeah. It was like 2 and a half years ago they sent me down to low A from high A, and what went through my head was it was beating a dead horse, and it isn’t meant to be. But those are moments that kind of help you I guess cause going through that struggle, and that adversity helps you. But it mostly taught me to kind of take care of your business one day at a time so you never have to question yourself.”
From there something seemed to click, he started making more and more hard contact, and not swinging at pitches off the strike zone. When that started to happen it all followed by continued success and promotions through the minor leagues. Now he is in Triple A, hitting over .300. What changed for Leblebijian? Was it his approach? His swing? “Well when I first started playing pro ball I never really focused on my approach that much, because I was so focused on my swing being right. And then I finally started talking to coaches and learning, and watching swings and stuff and I finally came up with a plan I enjoyed, you know when it comes to the mechanics of the swing that I actually believed in. So once I got to that point, that was really like 2 years ago it was when I started actually having an approach and never blaming my swing, if I had a bad result. That was the problem for me, I would always blame my swing and not really blame the pitches I was swinging at. I think last year was really the first full season I actually worked on my approach day in and day out depending on what pitches and pitchers you see.”
Part of the reason he is having success at the plate is Carlos Delgado. Delgado is a roving hitting instructor in our system, and he helped out Leblebijian. “Oh I mean he is one of the best hitters of all-time, you can sit there and pick his brain. But I think the thing we all love about him is how positive he is and how he simplifies things. Especially for younger guys as they often try to make things complicated, and try to out think the game, and Carlos, does a great job bringing back to reality and simplifying the approach.”
At 26 it may be now or never for Leblebijian get the call to the majors. “You know I think at this point in a lot of guys careers, I wouldn’t say now or never but it kinda is like you want to continue to remain consistent so when the opportunity does come you are ready for it. And whenever the opportunity happens it happens, and when it does I feel like I will be ready. You know I don’t think it is do or die, and I’m panicking in that sense, but I am feeling good.”
He may get his chance, the Jays have been consistently being hit with the injury bug, if another infielder goes down he may be the next call-up. However, Leblebijian would need to be added tot he 40 man roster to get a call-up. “I think a lot of it is just consistency, as last year was really my first full year playing everyday since opening day. So I think just getting another season showing them that I can play everyday, and hopefully that just builds confidence and helps my case more for a call-up.”
Leblebijian has remained consistent at the plate this season, and with continued success don’t be surprised to hear of Jason Leblebijian getting a call-up to soon.