Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 97 of 286. Stay tuned.
Zack Skyler Moutsos Leban is a 6’3″, 245 lb. right-handed reliever from Bellevue, Washington, origin also of Tim Lincecum. Born on May 30th, 1996, Leban was a 12th round selection of the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft by the Miami Marlins, out of the University of Kansas.
The University of Kansas has produced 28 major leaguers, most notably Bob Allison, who played 13 seasons for the old Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins starting in 1958. The three-time all-star first baseman led the American League with 99 runs and a 151 OPS+ in 1963.
In Leban’s three seasons of college ball for the Jayhawks, he got into 66 games, coming out of the bullpen 64 times and starting twice. He went 8-7 with a 4.73 ERA, striking out 81 batters in 96 1/3 innings. He closed his college career with a 1.43 WHIP.
Leban, who you can follow on Twitter @Zleban, was the UK closer in 2018. It was probably his most accomplished collegiate season. He struck out 36 in 39 innings and collected 12 saves in 26 games.
Players chosen 357th overall have made it to the major leagues at a 12 percent clip. If Leban makes it that far, he will be the eighth to do so. The group is led by Darin Erstad (1992, New York Mets, 32.4 career WAR), Bob Horner (1975, Oakland Athletics, 21.9 WAR), and Jim Slaton (1969, Seattle Pilots, 17.3 WAR).
After signing with the Miami Marlins for a $125,000 bonus, Leban reported to the Florida-based, rookie-level GCL Marlins, in the Gulf Coast League. It was a trial by fire, a short season that would see Leban allow an opposing .407/.478/.542 slashline in 12 appearances. In his first two appearances, Leban allowed nine hits and two walks in two innings, with a 36.00 ERA.
Leban composed himself nicely after those first two games. On August 9th, in an 8-4 win against the GCL Cardinals, he struck out two over two perfect relief innings.
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It’s important to understand that at these lower levels of minor league ball, management isn’t necessarily looking at the statistical bottom line, at least not as far as the statistics that we track out here in cyberspace. What they’re looking in a reliever is situational awareness, mechanics, velocity, and rotation.
Leban held the opposing team without an earned run in eight of his 12 appearances, and struck out 11 batters in 13 2/3 innings. He walked seven and allowed 24 hits, including one home run. His case was not helped by opposing batters putting up an unsustainable .469 BABIP, but Leban ended the season with a 2.27 WHIP.
Leban looks to commence the 2019 campaign with the short-season-A Batavia Muckdogs, in the New York-Penn League. With a little work, and good results, we should eventually see him rise through the ranks. The best case scenario for Leban would put him in Spring Training with the Miami Marlins in 2022.
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