He’s a New York Met pitching prospect enigma, at times an untouchable strikeout machine and at times a guy who struggles to get the ball over the plate. Jack Leathersich is a perplexing Met pitching puzzle, a pitching paradox that often lands him at one end or the other of the effectiveness spectrum; overpowering brilliance, or a maddening inability to throw strikes.
Good news for Met fans. Recent indicators out of Binghamton seem to suggest that Jack Leathersich has found the strike zone. Check out his pitching comparisons below
First 9 outings: 11.0 IP, 5 ER, 10 H, 9 BB, 18 K
Last 8 outings: 10.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 21 K
A deceptive delivery, not a triple digit power arm make Leathersich’s deliveries difficult to hit. Opposing batters call his pitches the ‘invisi-ball,’ Zack Wheeler told John Harper of the New York Daily News this spring, that Leathersich’s pitch is tough to detect as it approaches home plate.
In 2013, the 5-foot, 11-inch Leathersich led all professional pitchers in strikeout ratios fanning 15.7 batters in every nine innings he pitched. But, a base-on-ball average of one walk per every inning in Las Vegas impeded his progress with the Mets sending him back to Binghamton for the start of the 2014 campaign.
It’s not that Triple-A batters proved they could handle his stuff. The lefty reliever sent muttering Triple-A batters walking back to the dugout after an at bat at a sparkling 14.6 per 9 inning clip, but Leathersich’s issues with command prevented him from becoming something special.
The Mets have always liked what Leathersich brings to the mound in the late innings. That’s why they selected the lefty in the fifth round out of Massachusetts-Lowell, a Division 11 College where his strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings were both school records.
Leathersich started on a fast track through the Mets minor league ranks, dominating in Brooklyn in his first taste of professional ball in 2011 fanning 26 batters in 12 2/3 inning so work with a 0.71 ERA. Savannah proved much the same at the start of 2012 where Leathersich amassed 37 strikeouts in 24 innings with a 0.75 ERA.
After a promotion to St. Lucie for the second half of the season in 2012, Leathersich has been on a roller coaster ride, at some points his pitching stellar at the crest of the pitching curve and at others points middling, spiraling downward due to a lack of command.
In the piece this spring in the New York Daily News, former Met 20-game winner and a minor league pitching coach in the Met farm system Frank Viola talked about Leathersich.
“The first report I ever wrote on him I remember writing that I thought he could be a late inning guy at the major league level, because of his arm and his deception,” Viola recalled. “At Triple-A, he finally couldn’t get batters out just by throwing up in the strike zone, and now he has to adjust. He has to get a little mentally tougher and attack the strike zone.”
Back in Binghamton in the first half of the 2014 campaign, after a slow start, it seems Leathersich is doing just that. Leathersich understands his ability to locate pitches in and around the strike zone is the golden ticket that could take him to the big leagues. The entertaining left-hander has much still to prove and his next stop in Las Vegas could prove pivotal. I’m rooting for Leathersich to punch that golden ticket on a station to station jaunt to the majors.