HT: 6-1 WT: 172 POS: RP
Delmarva Shorebirds/Bowie Baysox - (48 G, 0 GS, 57.2 ip, 4.99 ERA, 90 K, 56 BB, 1 HR, 0.69 GO/AO)
Luis Lebron picked up where he left off last season- walking or striking out nearly every batter he faced. The diminutive Dominican continued to work in relief, making his way up to a cameo in double-A Bowie by the end of the season.
Lebron isn't actually 6-1; he's probably not even 6-0. Short right-handers that work exclusively in relief, walk nearly a batter an inning and sport 5+ ERA's in A-ball generally don't make their way into the top 20 of an organizational prospect list. But Luis Lebron is no ordinary A-ball reliever.
Lebron probably has the fastest arm action in the system- to the point that it's actually pretty fascinating to see him throw a ball. His lively fastball reaches the upper-90's and he has a plus slider to back it up. His arsenal would probably work in a starting role, but the organization is reluctant to tempt fate by stretching out the short righty. He lacks a good downward plane, obviously, and this translates into a high flyball rate. Still, he keeps the ball in the park, since so few A-ball hitters could get good wood on his power arsenal.
Command is obviously a huge issue with Lebron. He has to make major strides to reach his substantial ceiling. His incredible arm action means this may be a tougher process for him than many prospects, but you can be sure he'll get plenty of attention from the coaching staff.
Lebron will likely begin next season in high-A Frederick, but his stuff is already major-league ready. He's just a matter of throwing strikes away from becoming a major force in the Baltimore bullpen. His ceiling is as a late-innings reliever and next year could see his emergence on the top prospect scene.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com