- Full name Wade Matthew LeBlanc
- Born 08/07/1984 in Lake Charles, LA
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 195 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Alabama
- Debut 09/03/2008
Drafted in the 2nd round (61st overall) by the San Diego Padres in 2006 (signed for $590,000).
View Draft ReportLeBlanc was bound for hometown McNeese State before he blew up as a senior at Barbe High in Lake Charles, La., earning first-team All-America honors. When McNeese coach Todd Butler left for Alabama, LeBlanc followed. He was BA's Freshman of the Year in 2004, posting an 8-4, 2.08 record. He missed time with a bruised collarbone as a sophomore and was capping his college career strongly, winning each of his first eight decisions. LeBlanc fits the mold of the classic college lefthander with a feel for pitching and a repertoire that profiles in the back of a rotation. He has a smooth delivery, which he repeats well, and a durable frame. His bread and butter is a plus changeup that he throws with good arm speed. It's a deceptive pitch, with late sink and fade, and he commands it well. He relies on it heavily, which could present a problem as advanced hitters lay off it. His fastball velocity is below-average. He can touch 90 mph, but typically settles in at 84-87 mph, and struggles with command when he throws harder. His overall command is above-average, and he can manipulate the strike zone with both his fastball and changeup. He was not as sharp as a junior as he had been during his first two years at Alabama, however. His breaking ball is a get-me-over offering, with average spin and break. LeBlanc's strong track record boosts his stock, but his modest ceiling keeps him from becoming a first- or second-round talent.
Organization Prospect Rankings
In 2007, his first full season, LeBlanc reached Double-A, led the system with 145 strikeouts and finished third with a 2.95 ERA. Last year's results weren't quite as good, as he got thrashed in Triple-A and during his September callup. He did finish strong at Portland, going 7-5, 4.06 in the final three months and ranking second in the Pacific Coast League with 139 strikeouts. LeBlanc handles righthanders with his plus-plus changeup, which he throws with uncanny feel and terrific arm speed. In fact, he has such feel for the pitch that he throws two versions of it--slow and slower. He runs into trouble because he lacks true fastball command, and he doesn't have the velocity or movement to cover mistakes. He sits at 85-86 mph and occasionally scrapes 90, and he's now incorporated a low-80s two-seamer at San Diego's behest. But when LeBlanc misses it's to his arm side, so his fastball tails back over the plate against righthanders. His curveball is an average pitch at times but generally lacks finish or bite, and he would benefit from throwing it more for a surprise strike one. LeBlanc has a smooth, high three-quarters delivery and a competitive makeup, but he'll need better command to make it as a mid-rotation starter, which is his ceiling. He didn't challenge big leaguers enough in September. He's in the running to break camp with San Diego this spring.
LeBlanc earned BA's Freshman of the Year honors in 2004, missed much of his sophomore season, then led Alabama to super-regionals as a junior in 2006. In his first full pro season, LeBlanc led all Padres farmhands with 145 strikeouts while finishing second with 13 wins and third with a 2.95 ERA. LeBlanc is a classic college lefty with command who pitches above his raw stuff. His smooth, repeatable delivery allows him to throw three pitches for strikes, and the finish on those pitches improved in 2007. While he generally works backward, LeBlanc gained confidence in fastball and used it to better effect setting up his secondary pitches. His changeup is a true 80 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale at times, and he delivers it with deceptive arm speed. As the season progressed, he improved his feel for locating his solid-average curveball down in the zone. LeBlanc's fastball leaves him little margin for error. It sits at 86-88 mph and tops out at 90, and it's a bit too true. He's working to develop a two-seamer he can throw to the outer half of the plate with life. Improved fastball command would make his offspeed offerings that much deadlier. LeBlanc sometimes rushes the delivery of his fastball and his body gets ahead of his arm, causing him to miss up and away to righthanders. His command, durability and competitiveness mark him as a future No. 3 starter.
LeBlanc was bound for hometown McNeese State when he blossomed as a senior at Barbe High in Lake Charles, La., earning first-team All-America honors. McNeese coach Todd Butler left for a job with Alabama, though, and LeBlanc followed. He was BA's Freshman of the Year in 2004, going 8-4, 2.08, and while he missed much of his sophomore season, he led the Tide to super-regionals as a junior. The Padres made LeBlanc, a classic college lefty with command and feel for pitching, their second-round pick last June and signed him for $590,000. He's proven durable, and his smooth, repeatable delivery allows him to throw three pitches for strikes. His best offerings are his curveball and plus changeup. He possesses two versions of the latter: a get-me-over pitch and a strikeout changeup that one Padres official said appears to stop in midair. His curve has average spin and break, but he lands it for strikes. LeBlanc has average command of a deceptive 84-88 mph fastball, which peaks at 90, but he can get in trouble with the pitch because it's straight at lower speeds and hard to command when thrown harder. To combat this, LeBlanc is experimenting with a two-seam fastball, a cutter and a slider. The Padres would like him to stick with just his three pitches and instead improve his pitch location and sequencing. LeBlanc is poised and highly competitive and projects as a back of the rotation starter in the big leagues. He'll probably follow Ramos' path by getting an extended look in high Class A this season.
Minor League Top Prospects
LeBlanc may throw his fastball at just 86-89 mph, but that's more than enough to set up one of the most devastating changeups in the minors. He can locate his fastball on both sides of the plate, and he likes to go up and in with his fastball and then put hitters away with a low-70s changeup on the outer half. "It's a cartoon changeup," a manager said. "It's laughable the way people swing and miss at it. There's so much contrast." LeBlanc's fastball not only lacks velocity but it's also fairly straight, and his curveball is ordinary, leaving him little room for error. But he makes few mistakes and had no problem making the jump to Double-A in the second half of the season.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Changeup in the Pacific Coast League in 2009
- Rated Best Changeup in the San Diego Padres in 2009
- Rated Best Control in the Pacific Coast League in 2008
- Rated Best Changeup in the San Diego Padres in 2008
- Rated Best Changeup in the California League in 2007
- Rated Best Changeup in the San Diego Padres in 2007