Jack Leathersich, RP: The 22 year old Jack Leathersich burst onto the scene this year after a promising debut in the New York Penn League last season. In 12.2 innings last season for Brooklyn, Leathersich struck out 26 batters and only walked 3. Although it was only 12.2 innings, his strikeout/9 innings pitched (K/9) of 18.47 was too impressive to ignore. No one was putting Leathersich in the hall of fame yet, but he certainly gave Mets fans reason to get excited for his full season debut in a year.
Leathersich did not disappoint this year in the South Atlantic League (SAL). In 24 innings pitched in 12 games, he racked up 37 Ks and only 8 BBs while maintaining a 0.75 ERA. Those numbers look impressive at first glance, but when one realizes that equals out to Leathersich having a strike out rate of 65%, it really puts how impressive it was in perspective. Not only that, but batters only hit Leathersich at a .132 clip in the SAL league. Pure dominance.
His results in the SAL gained him a promotion to the Florida State League (FSL) fairly quick into the season. Unfortunately, Leathersich was not able to keep up the pace he began the season with. In 48 innings in St. Lucie, Leathersich produced 76 Ks, 24 BBs, and a 4.13 ERA while batters hit .224 against him. Although Leathersich didn’t see his strike out rate reduce that much (65% to 63%), his walks were up significantly. He went from walking a batter 33% of the time in the SAL to walking a batter 50% of the time in the FSL.
Batters began to hit him a bit harder too, but nothing for them to brag about. He only allowed batters to hit .224 against him, but that is almost .100 points higher than the SAL league. With the combination of walks and hitters hitting him more regularly, Leathersich naturally gave up more runs. Even with his 4.13 ERA, there is still a lot to be excited about when it comes to Leathersich. His strike out rate stayed strong and steady and hitters still were not hitting much against him. All he needs to work on is his control and he should be able to come back and dominate the FSL early next year.
Next year, I see Leathersich making it to Double A Binghamton easily. Double A will be the real test for Leathersich. He is not the youngest player out there, but as a reliever 22 years old is not too behind the curve. It will be easier for him to move through the system quickly considering he is not a starting pitcher. If Leathersich can get his control together he could find himself in the pen next September and if not then he will find himself in the pen by 2014.
I have seen people compare Leathersich to Tim Collins, the rookie reliever on Kansas City, which I think is a fair comparison. If Leathersich ends up like Collins the Mets will have a solid middle to late reliever for years to come.