Padres Prospect Interview: Cory Luebke

LAKE ELSINORE, CA: Cory Luebke, 24, was selected by the Padres in the supplemental first-round of the 2007 draft. The athletic 6-foot-4 left-hander out of Ohio State is not a typical finesse lefty nor is he going to a light up the radar.

Luebke's fastball comes in around 88-91 and can top out at 93-94 mph; he throws a nice slider to go along with a change, with everything down in the zone. Last year, the Padres attempted to fast-track him by starting him in the Cal League, where he struggled going 3-6 with a 6.84 ERA before returning to form in Fort Wayne where he went 3-3 with a 2.89 ERA.

This season, with some rebuilt mechanics from the end of last year, he is off to a hot start in Lake Elsinore with a 7-2 record and 2.48 ERA in the first two months of the season, helping to consolidate what is the Padres best minor league rotation.

Can you give us a brief background on you, where you went to school and so on?

Cory Luebke: I grew up Maria Stein, Ohio. It's a little farm town in western Ohio, then I went to Ohio State for a few years after that.

You were a pretty good high school basketball player. Did you have a chance to play after high school?

Cory Luebke: Maybe a smaller school, but not Division I. I always enjoyed playing all three sports, but baseball was my best sport.

Last year you started the season up here, struggled, went down to Fort Wayne and put up some pretty good numbers. What enabled you to turn it around with the Wizards?

Cory Luebke: Just cleaning my delivery up. I had a lot of things that were making it hard for me to locate my fastball. I just fell into some bad habits the year before and they carried over.

What type of things were you "cleaning up"?

Cory Luebke: Mainly it was just my posture and bottom half. I was kind of rushing my bottom half and not keeping my weight back. Just keeping a better posture through my delivery.

As a former basketball player it seems that your pitching delivery should be like shooting free throws, only there seems to be many more things that can go wrong.

Cory Luebke: That is true [laughs].

How tough is it to keep a consistent delivery throughout the season?

Cory Luebke: With how it is cleaned up now, it is much easier because there is a smoother drop with my leg as compared to how I used to throw before. When there is something wrong, it is a lot easier to fix it than before, especially during the game.

Last year, it seemed when there was a problem things used to snowball, now its much easier.

Some of the people around the press box last night mentioned that. This year when there is a problem you seem much more composed out there.

Cory Luebke: I just have more confidence in my delivery. Now when I miss with a pitch, I can understand the why faster, as compared to before. Last year when things were going bad, it would take a few batters and by that time it could be too late.

Can you give us an idea of your stuff? You sit around 88 to 92, have a slider and a change?

Cory Luebke: That is about right. I'm also mixing more four-seam fastballs this year. When I throw into lefties I use the two-seam, righties the four-seam.

What do you need to work on to improve?

Cory Luebke: Just to be more consistent with my off-speed. My first four or five starts, my change was my best pitch and then Grady and everyone let me know that I needed to start using my breaking ball more to righties. I had a few good starts doing that, then I wanted to go back to my change and it wasn't there [laughs].

So its about trying to have all my pitches working at all times.

Is it a big difference going into your second year having a better idea of what you want to do in the off-season?

Cory Luebke: My off-season hasn't changed that much. I went on a little different lifting routine this winter, but my velocity is about the same; maybe a little harder. I think that has more to do with a cleaned up delivery.

Last year, I had games where for three or four innings I was doing fine, then I would give up that big inning. That was one of the things I worked on this off-season trying to figure out how to keep those from happening. A lot of it was not evaluating so much the result of the play, but what I did on it.

A few ground ball hits get through and you get frustrated and you have to learn to deal with it and not get frustrated and focus on the next batter. We are pitchers and that is going to happen.

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