After a stellar 2016 season with New Hampshire and Dunedin, Jason Leblebijian is off to a torrid start for Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan League this fall.
Leblebijian, 25, had a season in which he hit for unprecedented power, hitting 13 home runs between the two minor league clubs after a campaign in the Australian Baseball League in which he hit .312/.386/.535 with 19 doubles, a triple and eight home runs. In Advanced-A and Double-A, Leblebijian put up career-best numbers, hitting .294/.361/.436 with 26 doubles, a triple and 13 home runs despite playing at his highest level ever.
A 25th-round draft pick out of Bradley University in Illinois, Leblebijian has been mostly used as a utility infielder and, until this past year, was never considered to have the potential to make the majors despite his excellent glove work. This year, however, he has upgraded that ceiling to possibly being a big-league utility man. His start to the Venezuelan Winter League season is likely giving him more confidence than ever.
In his first three games in the VWL, Leblebijian is 5/10 with a double, a home run, five RBI (I think – the stats page is in Spanish) while walking three times with a .500/.643/.900 slash line. Obviously things will regress, but it’s not uncommon to US minor league players struggle in their first go-round in a Latin-American winter ball league. With Rowdy Tellez scheduled to play in the Dominican Winter League, it’s going to a fun winter to keep track of the Jays’ minor leaguers.
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