After a very successful 2009 season where he posted 91 strike outs between Frederick and Bowie, Luis Lebron looked to strengthen his prospect status with a strong 2010 before injuring himself in spring training (2010). He underwent Tommy John Surgery (performed by Dr. James Andrews) the following May and obviously missed the entire season.
His fastball is easily a plus pitch, sitting in the mid 90′s, touching 98 mph and there could be some more velocity to come if he cleans up his stride and plant which would give him more momentum going towards home. His spotty command, control and lack of movement on the pitch is what’s holding his FB back from jumping above a 70 grade on the 20-80 scale.
Lebron’s high strike out totals haven’t been totally due to his overpowering fastball. His slider is a plus pitch at times and his changeup gives him a quality third pitch out of the pen, which is always a bonus.
Although his command and control will likely hold him back from ever becoming a closer in the bigs, when he’s locating his pitches well he can be absolutely lights out and look like closer material.
He had a particularly impressive run of outings during his time with Bowie in 2009, when he struck out 39 batters over 27.1 innings (24 appearances). What’s even more impressive about this stretch of outings is his opponent batting average of 0.093. That’s right, Lebron allowed just 8 hits over those 27.1 innings. Despite a BB/9 of 4.3, he still managed a WHIP of 0.79. It’s clear Lebron will find success even without the control you’d normally like to see in a back of the bullpen pitcher.
Finally healthy, Lebron has been throwing bullpens in side sessions this spring training but is unlikely to make a game appearance in the Grapefruit League. He should hop onto Norfolk’s roster some time in May or June and will almost assuredly make it to Baltimore at some point in 2011, assuming he stays healthy and finds success similar to 2009.