Q&A with 25th Round Pick Jason Leblebijian

We talked to the Blue Jays' 25th round pick, Jason Leblebijian, for a Q&A session. Find out what the shortstop from Bradley University has to say about his game, his strengths and weaknesses, who he would compare his game to at the big league level, if he's looking to sign quickly, and more!

FutureJays.com: Tell us, what was going through your mind once you knew you had been taken by Toronto?

Jason Leblebijian: You can't even explain it. Just to know you can start your big league career, it's something you work for your whole life.

FutureJays.com: Had you been in contact with Toronto prior to the draft? Had they showed you an interest in you?

Leblebijian: I had talked to them a couple times but to be honest, they were not one of the teams that I thought was going to pick me right away. They called me about two minutes before the round and talked to me then so I kind of knew this was going to happen at that point.

FutureJays.com: They drafted you as a shortstop which is where you played your entire college career. Has there been any discussion of a positional switch yet or do they foresee you staying on the left side of the diamond?

Leblebijian: It's too early to say, we haven't talked about any of that stuff yet.

FutureJays.com: Defensively, are you comfortable at shortstop? Do you think you have the range and arm to play the position at the professional level?

Leblebijian: I think so. Ultimately it's their decision where they see me fitting into the program. As long as I get a shot to show what I can do, there's no doubt it my mind. I'm going to learn so much new stuff defensively at the next level, footwork and things like that. Only time will tell so we'll see how it goes.

FutureJays.com: You picked up your home run totals this past season (from zero to six), describe your offensive game to us.

Leblebijian: Offensively it was a down year for me average-wise but that's the way it goes some times. I worked the count better [this year] and saw more pitches and really just tried to build on what I've accomplished so far.

FutureJays.com: Your walk totals were up this past year as well. Was patience at the plate something you worked on heading into your junior season? What else did you work on?

Leblebijian: I worked on just driving the ball. I was more of a slap guy just hitting it to right field. The power numbers were up this year, I really just worked on, when I get my pitch, put a powerful swing on it and try to hit the gap for extra base hits.

FutureJays.com: Have the Jays told you specifically what they like about your game so far?

Leblebijian: Not really. They've told me they like my athleticism and the body language at short and things like that, but we haven't really gotten into the fine details yet.

FutureJays.com: What is the biggest strength of your game right now?

Leblebijian: Aggressive hitting. I want to get a hit, I don't want to get a walk. I look at it as a positive. Defensively, I'm solid to my left and the routine ball.

FutureJays.com: What do you want to work on most as you look at starting a pro career?

Leblebijian: Cut down on some of the strikeouts offensively and really get down the backhand defensively.

FutureJays.com: Is there a major league player you model your style of game after or say my style of play is most similar to this player?

Leblebijian: Not really. I guess my favorite player is Michael Young and just the way he goes about his business. He doesn't really worry about the outside media and things like that. He just plays the game with a lot of passion, no matter what position he plays, he's out there giving 100 percent.

FutureJays.com: Did you have a favorite team and player growing up?

Leblebijian: I guess I shouldn't tell Toronto this but Texas has always been my favorite team and Michael Young has been my favorite player for as long as I can remember.

FutureJays.com: Other than today, what has been the highlight of your baseball career so far?

Leblebijian: I would definitely say when we played Missouri State in the conference tournament. I hit a three-run home run. It was 3-2 with two outs and guys on first and second, we were down three. I hit a home run to tie the game and go into extras. Ultimately we lost, but at the moment it was definitely my greatest accomplishment.

FutureJays.com: You're junior so you have one year left at Bradley. Are you entertaining using your last year of eligibility or are you anticipating getting your pro career started this year?

Leblebijian: Obviously it's a once in a lifetime opportunity. But I'm meeting with a scout tomorrow and we're going to talk more about the details.

FutureJays.com: Have they given you any indication as to what level you would start at if you sign?

Leblebijian: Not really. Like everyone else you go through the mini camps and they evaluate you from there. But they had said short season or maybe low A.


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nFutureJays.com: Tell us, what was going through your mind once you knew you had been taken by Toronto?
\r\n
\r\nJason Leblebijian: You can't even explain it. Just to know you can start your big league career, it's something you work for your whole life.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: Had you been in contact with Toronto prior to the draft? Had they showed you an interest in you?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: I had talked to them a couple times but to be honest, they were not one of the teams that I thought was going to pick me right away. They called me about two minutes before the round and talked to me then so I kind of knew this was going to happen at that point.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: They drafted you as a shortstop which is where you played your entire college career. Has there been any discussion of a positional switch yet or do they foresee you staying on the left side of the diamond?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: It's too early to say, we haven't talked about any of that stuff yet.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: Defensively, are you comfortable at shortstop? Do you think you have the range and arm to play the position at the professional level?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: I think so. Ultimately it's their decision where they see me fitting into the program. As long as I get a shot to show what I can do, there's no doubt it my mind. I'm going to learn so much new stuff defensively at the next level, footwork and things like that. Only time will tell so we'll see how it goes.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: You picked up your home run totals this past season (from zero to six), describe your offensive game to us.
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: Offensively it was a down year for me average-wise but that's the way it goes some times. I worked the count better [this year] and saw more pitches and really just tried to build on what I've accomplished so far.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: Your walk totals were up this past year as well. Was patience at the plate something you worked on heading into your junior season? What else did you work on?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: I worked on just driving the ball. I was more of a slap guy just hitting it to right field. The power numbers were up this year, I really just worked on, when I get my pitch, put a powerful swing on it and try to hit the gap for extra base hits.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: Have the Jays told you specifically what they like about your game so far?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: Not really. They've told me they like my athleticism and the body language at short and things like that, but we haven't really gotten into the fine details yet.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: What is the biggest strength of your game right now?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: Aggressive hitting. I want to get a hit, I don't want to get a walk. I look at it as a positive. Defensively, I'm solid to my left and the routine ball.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: What do you want to work on most as you look at starting a pro career?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: Cut down on some of the strikeouts offensively and really get down the backhand defensively.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: Is there a major league player you model your style of game after or say my style of play is most similar to this player?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: Not really. I guess my favorite player is Michael Young and just the way he goes about his business. He doesn't really worry about the outside media and things like that. He just plays the game with a lot of passion, no matter what position he plays, he's out there giving 100 percent.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: Did you have a favorite team and player growing up?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: I guess I shouldn't tell Toronto this but Texas has always been my favorite team and Michael Young has been my favorite player for as long as I can remember.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: Other than today, what has been the highlight of your baseball career so far?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: I would definitely say when we played Missouri State in the conference tournament. I hit a three-run home run. It was 3-2 with two outs and guys on first and second, we were down three. I hit a home run to tie the game and go into extras. Ultimately we lost, but at the moment it was definitely my greatest accomplishment.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: You're junior so you have one year left at Bradley. Are you entertaining using your last year of eligibility or are you anticipating getting your pro career started this year?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: Obviously it's a once in a lifetime opportunity. But I'm meeting with a scout tomorrow and we're going to talk more about the details.
\r\n
\r\nFutureJays.com: Have they given you any indication as to what level you would start at if you sign?
\r\n
\r\nLeblebijian: Not really. Like everyone else you go through the mini camps and they evaluate you from there. But they had said short season or maybe low A.
\r\n
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