Aaaarrrrrrooooollllllldddddisssss Chhhhhaaaapppppmaaaaan!!! This spring seemed like the Aroldis Chapman Show in Cincinnati Reds camp. Scouts and fans were excited to get the opportunity to see the flame throwing, left-handed Cuban defector. Mike Leake, on the other hand, flew under the radar. Leake came to camp and showed that he was worthy of the 8th overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft. Heck, Leake even had to take a back seat to Aroldis in this article.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Mike Leake’s minor league stats were unbelievable. He didn’t give up a hit, he didn’t give up a run. In fact, Leake didn’t even pitch in the minor leagues. He skipped them all together. That’s kind of like getting double promoted in elementary school, it means you’re doing something right. In Leake’s case, he’s doing everything the right way. Any time I hear a young pitcher being compared to Greg Maddux, it gets my attention.
Leake has gotten off to a nice start in 2010 for a pitcher that has never pitched professional baseball. The results haven’t been awe inspiring, but he has shown a great deal of poise and talent in his first 20+ innings with the Reds. I’ve been surprised that Leake has walked as many hitters as he has, considering that he’s always been known as a control pitcher, but he’s done a great job of limiting big innings and stranding runners on base. He even picked up his first win on April 22nd against the Dodgers.
At this point, it’s pretty tough to call Leake fantasy relevant, but there is definitely potential there. As he adjusts to big league hitters and strike zones, he should have a lot of success. The odds were really stacked against him as he broke spring training with the big team. He’s never pitched at any level above college baseball. The NL Central is undoubtedly better competition than the PAC 10 and he’s pitching in one of the worst pitchers parks in the majors. Not to mention, most Reds fans were more concerned about Aroldis Chapman’s first start in Triple-A than Leake’s debut in the big leagues.
I think Leake is more of a target for dynasty leagues and long term keeper leagues. It’s pretty obvious that he has the talent and strong mentality to be a great pitcher eventually. He’s impressed me, but there will be some growing pains.
My projection: 4.07 ERA/1.34 WHIP/10 W/139 K/170 IP.
Tim George is a teacher and football coach from Huntington, WV. He's a forum member at the cafe...TimGeorge2
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