3 Cubs relievers fighting for a bullpen spot – #1: Ben Leeper
Ben Leeper’s story is truly remarkable. By the age of 16 he already had two Tommy John surgeries and was nearly ready to hang up his glove. Persistent as they come, he did not give up. He fought hard to get healthy and impressed enough in 2020 with a 2.45 ERA before the college season was scrapped due to the pandemic. Once again, he didn’t stop there and has seen nothing but upside since.
This spring, he pitched three innings, recording 5 Ks and a 3.00 ERA. It’s hardly a surprise he was invited to big league camp in the first place as he posted incredible numbers already at the Triple-A level just a year removed from college. First, he recorded a 1.26 ERA in 14 1/3 frames in Double-A Tennessee and then moved up to Triple-A where he earned himself a shiny 1.31 ERA in 20 1/3 innings of work. That’s not exactly that small of a sample considering he didn’t get shelled badly at all.
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Now, still just 24, Leeper seems like he’s finally healthy and is ready to make his mark. It has been an incredibly difficult road to this point, but against all odds he never gave up on himself and has stayed mostly healthy since his last major operation in 2016. It will be a solid feel-good story to see him more than likely make his debut this year if he stays hot toeing the rubber in Iowa.