James Leverton Q&A

Left-hander James Leverton was one of several key arms the Chicago Cubs added on Day 2 of the 2008 amateur draft. The Texas Tech alum and eighth-round Cubs draft pick spent his first pro season at short-season Class Low-A Boise, making 10 starts and posting a 4.61 ERA in 54 2/3 innings.

Going back to last season, you struggled some in the beginning but it seemed that you straightened things out in time. Were you pleased with how things ended up?

JAMES LEVERTON: I was very satisfied. I did struggle at the beginning of the year just finding the strike zone, but (Boise pitching coach) Tom Pratt helped me out with learning how to pitch and being in situations and getting out of jams, so I felt like I made big steps from beginning to end.

What did Tom Pratt say or do to help in that regard?

JAMES LEVERTON: It was more about mechanics I guess you would say. In between starts, you're throwing your sides and stuff. It was more about slowing things down, calming my body down, being more consistent with my delivery and doing the same things with every pitch.

You did both starting and relieving. Which role do you feel geared more toward?

JAMES LEVERTON: Honestly, I'd like to be a starter, but a lot of guys start in the minors and then move to the bullpen if they get up through the system. I'm prepared for anything and am up for anything. I just want to move up and get guys out, you know?

How is the development of your slider and changeup? You talked last year about Dan Spencer, your college pitching coach, and how he'd worked with you on your secondary pitches.

JAMES LEVERTON: I quit throwing my slider and went back to a spiked curve. I'm more comfortable with my (circle) changeup than my curveball, but in Instructs I worked a lot on my curve. I'd say the changeup was really good, and then we [shelved] the slider and went to the curveball.

How has that transition gone, from slider to curve?

JAMES LEVERTON: Pretty easy. One day in the bullpen before playing Salem, I just showed T.P. that I threw a spiked curve. We worked on it in the ‘pen and decided to start throwing it the next game out.

How did your first Instructs experience go, and what were you able to take from it?

JAMES LEVERTON: In Instructs, I worked on my breaking ball and fastball; mostly just throwing strikes with both pitches. And I just soaked up a lot of knowledge. I was only there for two weeks out of the month. There are a lot of sit-down meetings and stuff, and I also learned a lot about the mental side.

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