CORY LUEBKE, LEFT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: March 4, 1985
Drafted: 1st round, 63rd overall, 2007 (Padres)
How Acquired: Minor league free agent
College: Ohio State University
Agent: Meister Sports Management
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Luebke had a very promising career interrupted by a string of arm surgeries. He was drafted as a lefty with solid stuff and good command. He threw a fastball at the time that registered 88-91; during his time in the majors he averaged a little over 91. He threw a slider that was regarded, back before the surgeries, as average or a little above, as well as a developing change. Luebke had a big rookie season in 2011, but had Tommy John surgery the next year, then needed the same surgery again before he made it back to the mound. In the end, he was out for three years, then had his rehab effort in 2015 interrupted by another surgery. During his one full major league season, he was deadly against left-handed hitters and wasn’t either a groundball or flyball pitcher. The Pirates signed him to a minor league contract for 2016 with an invitation to spring training.
Luebke started in short season ball, but the Padres moved him up quickly and he ended up getting one start and one relief appearance in high A. Baseball America ranked him the Padres’ 12th best prospect after the season.
The Padres sent Luebke to the hitting-happy California League to start the season and he had a very rough time, although his walk and strikeout rates remained solid. Demoted to low A for the last two months, he pitched much better, although with a low K rate.
A+: 8-2-0, 2.34 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 88.1 IP, 1.7 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
Back in the California League again, Luebke dominated, which pitchers don’t often do in that environment. He continued to pitch well in his last nine starts, in AA. BA rated him the Padres’ sixth best prospect.
Luebke dominated in both AA and AAA, and got a callup for September. He made three major league starts and one relief appearance, pitching reasonably well.
Luebke stayed with the Padres all year and had an impressive rookie season. He pitched in relief until late June, then joined the rotation. He was equally effective in both roles and almost unhittable against left-handed batters, holding them to a .422 OPS. Right-handed batters posted a .680 figure. His K rate was much higher than it had been in the minors.
Just prior to the season, San Diego signed Luebke to a contract extension running through the 2015 season, with team options for 2016 and 2017. He pitched well through five starts, but then went out with elbow soreness. He ended up having Tommy John surgery.
The Tommy John surgery kept Luebke out all year.
Luebke needed a second Tommy John surgery and missed the entire season.
Luebke finally returned to action in June. He got into seven games, but didn’t pitch after June. In July, he had surgery to remove loose bodies that were close to a nerve in his forearm. After the season, the Padres declined their 2016 option and Luebke elected free agency.
Luebke suffered a minor setback at the beginning of spring training, in the form of a hamstring strain. He was able to return around mid-March, though, and showed impressive stuff, including a 93-94 mph fastball and sharp slider. Whether due just to the stuff he showed or because they didn’t want to lose him — Luebke had an out clause in his contract in case he didn’t make the team — the Pirates added him to the roster and he’ll open the season in the bullpen. Due to the injury history, he appears to be limited to relief duty for the time being. He’ll be eligible for free agency after the season, as San Diego repeatedly put him on the disabled list rather than using options to send him to the minors. He burned nearly four years of eligibility during which he wasn’t pitching.
UPDATE: Despite impressing during spring training, Luebke was ineffective in brief action at the start of the season. He spent some time on the disabled list, went to AAA for a rehab assignment, was optioned to AAA, then returned to the Pirates and still was ineffective. With their bullpen a complete disaster, the Pirates designated Luebke for assignment in mid-June as part of a series of personnel moves.
2015: $5,250,000 (plus $1,750,000 buyout of two team options)
|Signing Bonus: $515,000
MiLB Debut: 2007
MLB Debut: 9/3/2010
MiLB FA Eligible: 2016
MLB FA Eligible: 2016
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 9/1/2010
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 5.033
|June 8, 2004: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 18th round, 532nd overall pick.
June 6, 2006: Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 22nd round, 658th overall pick.
June 7, 2007: Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 1st round, 63rd overall pick; signed on June 23.
September 1, 2010: Contract purchased by the San Diego Padres.
November 4, 2015: Contract option declined by San Diego Padres; elected free agency.
February 11, 2016: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
April 3, 2016: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
June 18, 2016: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.