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Pitching for a Paycheck
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2019-02-14

Stoudt enters junior season as viable MLB draft prospect.

 

            Levi Stoudt begins his junior season with Lehigh University on Friday

Levi Stoudt begins his junior season at Lehigh University
on Friday. Stoudt, a Pennsburg native, has drawn
significant cant interest from several Major League
teams in advance of June's First Year Player Draft.

under a microscope. Between 30 and 50 professional scouts are expected to watch him pitch in Durham, N.C. against Duke University, according to head coach Sean Leary.

            Stoudt, a Pennsburg resident, should expect similar scrutiny at each of his starts this spring for the Mountain Hawks. The 6-foot-1 right-hander, and projected staff ace, was named to College Baseball Daily's All-Patriot League preseason team. In November, College Baseball Daily named him as the No. 79 player in its Top 100 countdown.

            A fastball that tops out at 96 mph, a quality changeup, a developing slider and an even-keel approach has made Stoudt a prospect for this summer's MLB First-Year Players Draft. D1baseball.com describes him as a   "potential top-five-rounds prospect." The New York Mets and the Detroit Tigers have shown the most interest, according to Leary.

            The goal is to pitch well enough to get drafted and sign a professional contract, according to Stoudt, a Perkiomen School graduate, who has posted a 2.69 ERA over 127 innings in two previous seasons for the Patriot League team. Staying healthy is crucial.

            "I know I have the talent and stuff to do it," he said. "If I can pitch my game, I know I'll have success."

            Interest from Major League teams has reached the next level, according to Leary, in his 24th season leading Lehigh's program. He said the team hosted multiple private workouts, and that Stoudt has participated in unofficial meetings with area scouts and national cross checkers from 28 of the 30 big league teams. According to the coach, at least two area scouts watched him throw in a Feb. 8 scrimmage from the press box at J. David Walker Field at Legacy Park in Bethlehem. 

            "They are checking to see if Levi is ready," said Leary, who added that he hasn't seen this level of interest since Matt McBride was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the second round in 2006. "He is definitely ready to [take the next step]. I look at this as a job interview. If Levi does what he's capable of, he's going to have a great spring."

            So far, the additional distractions have not deterred Stoudt's ability to perform. According to Leary, the pitcher relies on a unique demeanor to focus on his performance.

"I do a pretty good job of not getting caught up in all of that," Stoudt said. "In the end comes down how I pitch. Things will take care of themselves if I do that."

            After spending last summer in the Cape Cod League, he abandoned his curve ball – described as too loopy – for a slider. Stoudt said the pitch, which can be thrown a couple different ways and tops out around 85 mph, has a sharper break, comes out of the same arm slot and is delivered at the same arm speed as his fastball.

            According to the coach, Stoudt needed only two bullpen sessions to throw the pitch comfortably. Leary said it has the potential to become another swing-and-miss pitch for the starter.

            "It looked like Levi was throwing it for two years," the coach said. "The pitch could be a real separator for him." 

            Leary wouldn't set a pitch limit for his ace, but stated that most starters are limited to 70 during the first weekend series. Stoudt said he expects to last between three and five innings.

"I'm going to be smart," he said.

            Stoudt will have the opportunity to test the pitch and his pitching acumen against the Blue Devils, who received Top 25 preseason rankings from Collegiate Baseball (20th), Baseball America (22nd) and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (25th).

             In the first of a three-game weekend series, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday, he will face lefty Graeme Stinson, a teammate in the Cape Cod League who also pitched for Team USA last summer, and could get selected in the first round of the MLB draft.

            "I can't wait to pick Graeme's brain," Stoudt said.


 

 

 

 

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