Top 50 Prospect Profile: Jered Liebeck

Top 50 Prospect Profile: Jered Liebeck

<p>The new year is here, and the <b>FutureBacks.com Top 50</b> debuts tomorrow.&nbsp; The Top 50 will feature profiles, commentary, and analysis from the FutureBacks.com staff, Diamondbacks coaches and officials, as well as Scout.com experts.&nbsp; In a system chock full of outfielders, Managing Editor James Renwick stays close to home with ASU product <b>Jered Liebeck</b>.

Vital Statistics:

Name Jered Liebeck
Position Pitcher
Age 23
Height 6'1"
Weight 200
Bats Right 
Throws Right
'04 Club Lo-A South Bend Silverhawks (Midwest League), Hi-A Lancaster JetHawks (California League) Short Season A Yakima Bears (Northwest League)

Past and Future:  Liebeck has been AZ all the way.  After the Diamondbacks drafted him in the 45th round out of Mountain Ridge (AZ) High School, but he elected to go to Arizona State University instead and then was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003 by the Diamondbacks who were still impressed by the young righty.  He's impressed everywhere he's gone and had appeared to really find his groove in Lo-A South Bend this past season where he put together a 26 inning scoreless streak before he was promoted to Hi-A Lancaster.  The results were more mixed there and he was quickly moved down to Short Season A Yakima.  The reason for the demotion might not be as clear as poor performance.  At least one report had Liebeck suffering from shoulder stiffness, more often it was said that Liebeck was moved down to help his conversion from the bullpen to the starting rotation, while others claimed it was simply a matter of too many arms in Lancaster and not enough in Yakima.  

Regardless Liebeck will likely start 2005 in Lancaster and the D'Backs have an eye on a quick promotion to Double-A if he starts well.

Jered Liebeck W-L ERA K/BB IP
(Hi A) Lancaster JetHawks (California League) 1-0 11.57 4/5 7.0
Lo-A South Bend Silverhawks (Midwest League) 5-2 3.23 63/15 53.0
Short Season A Yakima Bears (Northwest League) 4-2 4.53 52/19 59.2

Pitches: Liebeck's fastball is in the mid to upper 80s, explaining why he went undrafted despite being named to the All Pac-10 squad at ASU, but he has exceptional control, both in and out of the strike zone.  His curveball was vastly improved from his first pro year, sharper and with more control.  His change up is problematic, only differing in speed by about six miles an hour from his fastball.

ETA:  Very quietly the Diamondbacks have started talking about Liebeck as a solid #3 starter at the Major League level.  He is poised on the mound, and follows game plans exceptionally.  Once again much of the credit goes to ASU's baseball program, which set Liebeck up for success.  The rumors of shoulder problems could amount to nothing, and 2005 will be about evaluating whether or not Liebeck can hold up as a starter.  He projects to get his shot in late 2007 or early 2008.

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