Q&A with James Leverton

The Cubs added several arms on Day 2 of the draft Friday, one of which was left-hander James Leverton, 22, of Texas Tech in the eighth round. In 31 relief appearances this season, Leverton (listed as 6-foot-2, 200 pounds) led the Red Raiders with a 3.86 ERA and held opponents to a .227 average against. He struck out 27 batters and walked 12.

Congratulations on being drafted.

JAMES LEVERTON: Thanks. It means a lot to go in the eighth round, especially for the Cubs being a historic organization.

You talked about working with Coach Dan Spencer a lot this year. What did the two of you work on specifically?

LEVERTON: He taught me a lot about my (secondary) pitches, my slider and changeup. He worked with me on that and mentally let me know that I don't have to make perfect pitches. He let me know how good I really am on the mound. He's great at getting guys ready to go out and compete against other guys.

Was the mental thing something you'd had to deal with in the past?

LEVERTON: At the plate, I'd out-think myself. On the mound, I'd say I was a lot more stable.

How much hitting did you do this year?

LEVERTON: I think I had 20-something at-bats because guys went down with injuries and I DH'ed.

Was there a point where you had to choose between pitching and playing an everyday lineup spot?

LEVERTON: Yeah, this year. (laughs) I've always enjoyed pitching and having the game in your control, but I've also enjoyed playing in the field every day. I think I enjoyed playing in the field my first year (at college) more than pitching, and then I kind of wanted to get into more pitching because I knew that was kind of my way, being left-handed.

All of your appearances were in relief this year. Have you done much starting?

LEVERTON: Yeah, I was a starter all throughout high school. I'm preparing to do whatever they (Cubs) ask me to – starter or be a setup man like I've been doing. I just want to get there.

Were you happy with the season you had?

LEVERTON: I was happy with how well I did. I think I could have done better. I got knocked around a few times, but overall I'm happy with how it turned out.

Tell us about your repertoire.

LEVERTON: My fastball is a four-seam and a two-seam. I'm probably anywhere from 89 to 92, 88 to 91 (mph). I throw a circle change ... and then my slider is probably my best off-speed pitch. My slider and cutter is probably low 80s, high 70s.

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