By: James Burrows
Canadian Baseball Network
DUNEDIN, FLA. - Jason Lebleblijian isn’t on anyone’s top Major League prospect list.
He’s starting to hit like he should be.
Over the past five seasons, Lebleblijian has played at nearly every level of the Blue Jays’ minor-league system, including a winter-league stop in Australia.
After never getting above High-A Dunedin he was named a Mid-Season All-Star for the Florida State League in 2016. A promotion to the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats soon followed.
He made the most of the trip. In 75 games with the Fisher Cats last summer he batted .293 with a .359 on-base percentage and .448 slugging average, and continued his stellar defence at multiple positions.
Always a solid defensive utility infielder, Lebleblijian often struggled with his consistency at the plate. After five years in the system, he’s changing his approach.
“My first couple years I didn’t do too much heavy weightlifting but now I do a lot more dead lifting, a lot more front squats,” said Lebleblijian. “It was just a choice I made.”
In 2015 Lebleblijian struggled in A-ball but found his form after playing in Australia for the Canberra Cavalry, where he batted .324/.401/.578, and showed the organization that he might be more than just a good fielder.
That success has paid dividends; he finds he’s more relaxed.
“Every year I used to stress about certain things but now I’m at a point where I’ve really started to understand what I’m trying to do,” he said. “I maybe take half as many swings as I used to but it’s more focused.”
Lebleblijian knows he’s going to need that focus to succeed at Double-A and saw a big difference in the level of pitching in New Hampshire.
“In the lower levels you’re usually going to get a fastball to hit in the at-bat,” he said. “When I got to Double-A I started learning that that’s not always the case.
“You’re going to get a (pitching) mistake every at bat but it’s not always going to be a fastball.“
For now, Lebleblijian is just trying to be consistent and trust his new approach.
“We have multiple nutritionists that give us information that allows us to take control of our career instead of looking up some article on the internet or going to McDonalds.” he said. “It really gives us a plan and an understanding of how to do it the right way.”