While the 2012 MLB draft was only a mere three months ago, there are already players from the draft making strides in the Blue Jays minor league system. Infielder Jason Leblebijian has become the first member of the 2012 class to make it to Michigan to play for the Lansing Lugnuts. The former Bradley University standout was selected by Toronto in the 25th round in June, a moment he admits was unexpected, but one that he says will always be remembered.
“Being drafted by Toronto was unexpected. I didn’t hear a lot from them, but I’ve always heard good things about their organization and farm system,” Leblebijan said. “The overall draft experience was amazing, it was everything I had expected and more from playing baseball every day.”
Shortly after Leblebijian signed with the Blue Jays, he played nine games with the Bluefield Blue Jays before making the trip to Vancouver for his first taste of action in Canada. After finding success in 37 games in the Great White North, Leblebijian made the trip to Lansing to finish out the season, appearing in 12 regular season games for the Lugnuts. Between three different leagues in 2012, Leblebijian batted .263 with 59 hits, 13 doubles, one triple, two home runs, and 24 RBI in his first professional season.
“Vancouver was unbelievable,” he said, discussing his experiences this year. “The fans there are great, the city is great, the guys are great. It was an unbelievable experience for my first minor league season.”
He also added positive sentiments to his present team. “Lansing has also been incredible. It has been great knowing that we are going to get a shot to win a championship. The guys are great. I think we’re going to have a great finish here.”
During his 2012 season, the 21-year-old prospect played second base, shortstop and third base for each of his three teams. He is now working on his fielding and abilities at second base.
“I played shortstop in college. In Vancouver, I played mostly third base and shortstop, and now, here in Lansing, I’ve started playing second base. It’s really coming along!”
No matter where he is on the field or at the plate, it is evident that Leblebijian gives everything he has in each opportunity he is presented with. He described his game play as being ‘high energy,’ adding that he enjoys playing the game ‘the right way.’ “I’m not too vocal,” he said. “Which I guess could be a negative at times, but I feel if you play hard it will set an example for other players as well.”
While playing hard may be a mindset he prepares to keep during the Lugnuts’ playoff run, Leblebijan indicated that he doesn’t have any concrete personal goals.
“I feel like if your goal is to hit .350 and you’re hitting .370 and the last ten games you drop to .350 you feel satisfied. But the way I feel it should be, is that you should work your tail off, and whatever is meant to be, will be. Don’t ever give up on at bats and compete every day and you’ll be where you want to be at.”