Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Off-season Check In: RHP Luke Leftwich

Luke Leftwich, image- Jay Floyd
Right-handed hurler Luke Leftwich had a remarkable season in 2016, earning a nod as a Class A South Atlantic League All-Star with a 7-3 record with a 2.00 ERA through his first 12 starts of the season before being promoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater in June. Overall, in his first full year as a pro, Leftwich tallied a 10.1 K/9 mark along with a .255 batting average against and a 1.26 WHIP.

The 22-year-old was a 7th round draft selection by the Phillies in 2015.

Recently, I talked with Luke about his off-season which includes working to finish his college degree.  Read ahead for that interview.


- How are you spending your time since the season wrapped up in September?

I'm studying accounting right now.  I went to Wofford College, which is considered a pretty good school, for three years (before being drafted) and my mom's a principal and she was not about to let me go there for three years and not finish.  So, I'm taking this semester and then going back (to baseball) for the season and then I'll finish (with college) up next fall.  

-With all the studying is there any time for work or coaching this off-season?

Pretty much just school.  I've been helping out with the college baseball team whenever they need me or to help run a practice or something.  Or when I get home (from school), I know I'll help the local little league, so I guess I'll be doing that coming up here.

- How much to you look forward to working with those youth players?

It's really a special experience because I know when I was a kid, we had some of the Arizona State players come through and help us with practice and they were, like, idols to me back then and to see them go on and a lot of them played professional baseball, so I got to watch them move on and play farther when just prior to that they were helping me when I was just a little kid.  So, hopefully, I can be that to someone.

- The Phillies will mandate certain things they want their players to work on during the off-season.  Do you have access to good facilities to get your work in?  And once the throwing program starts, do you have a good place for that?

Yeah.  I'm lucky to be at school because the Carolina Panthers do their training camp at Wofford, so they paid for our entire weight room and we have a state-of-the-art NFL quality weight room, so I have access to pretty much anything I need.  I'm lucky there.  And then once I start throwing, I'll have baseball guys at school that I can have a catch with and then once I am home, I'll be able to have a catch with my dad and he's more than okay at playing catch.

- Is there much variance, besides school, with your off-season this year versus last year?

The main thing is just school.  Last year I went to instructs and then went home for the whole off-season.  This year I've been at school, so I've had a little bit different of a routine.  Basically, just trying to work around class and getting my school work done while still trying to get all the workouts that I need in.  And I think I've been crushing it so far this year.

- Do you have any expectations for spring training arrival time?  Will you head down early?

Last year I went about a week early and I thought that was kind of perfect.  It gave me time to get back into the swing of things, get over the time difference of going from Arizona to Florida and I just felt like that was perfect, so I am going to do that again.

- I talked to Zach Morris and he mentioned that you guys had kind of an off-season bro-date, going out to a football game.  How was that for you?

Yeah, I was telling-- my grandmom lives up in the D.C. area and I knew he lived up there too, so I texted him one of the days before and I told him we should catch up and hang out (while I was visiting), and he said he had an extra ticket to the Redskins game, so I was like, "Absolutely!" It was my first Redskins game and we had a really fun time tailgating.  We got to watch the game from a box suite because (Zach's) dad got those tickets.
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