Cory Luebke is considered to be one of the Padres’ top prospects. Baseball America ranked him sixth in the system, and I’m one of the few who doesn’t see him as a top-10 San Diego prospect.
He seemed to me like a finesse lefty who could make for a decent back-of-the-rotation starter, a la Wade LeBlanc/Clayton Richard/Cesar Ramos. But I got a look at him in a spring game the other day, and Luebke looked very different from what I expected.
He showcased a clean delivery and well-above-average velocity for a lefty. The former I expected to see; the latter I didn’t. He also showed solid command of the strike zone.
It bothered me, however, that Luebke didn’t show much else. His slider looked fringe-average, and he also threw a few high-80’s pitches with a bit of sink that I’m guessing are changeups. Baseball America’s scouting report confirms that Luebke has trouble getting velocity separation with the fastball and change.
A lefty who throws 90-94 with command is nice, but without any other good pitches, I don’t see Luebke being anything more than a fifth starter, even with Petco around. Even more troubling is that he’s already 25 and has little experience above A-ball; it’s not like we’re talking about a 20-year-old here.
Luebke sounds a lot like Richard: a lefty with good velocity and command, a playable but unspectacular slider, and not much else. Like Richard, he’s probably best served as a lefty reliever down the line, although possibly more than a specialist.
He’ll need to tighten up his offspeed stuff and show a lot in Triple-A this year to stand out as anything other than a future nondescript fifth starter/second lefty.