NEW YORK—Just for fun, Jack Leathersich created a Twitter account using the name "LeatherRocket." An equally interesting fact: He's a lefthander who touches 98 mph.
A fifth-round pick from Massachusetts-Lowell in June, Leathersich built a following on Twitter with his outgoing personality.
"All my friends are on it," Leathersich said. "It just took off from there. I'm just trying to have fun. I'm still a kid, trying to have as much fun as possible with this."
These days, a lot of things are fun for the 21-year-old Leathersich, a reliever for short-season Brooklyn. He led Division II in strikeouts this spring, and now he pitches in front of 8,000 fans per game with the Cyclones.
A starter at UMass-Lowell, Leathersich shifted to the bullpen upon turning pro, where his schedule dictates that he throw one inning every five days. He struck out the side in order, touching 98 mph, during his July 7 debut.
In his next two appearances he allowed only one hit and no walks while striking out four.
"I've never been afraid of contact," Leathersich said. "I just come right after guys. I don't nibble around. I just try to throw it by you. I'm going to let them hit it. I know my kids are going to make the plays out there. I battle, try to get out of the inning quick as possible."
The Mets intend to shift the 5-foot-11, 205-pound lefthander back to the rotation next season, but the organization ultimately views him as late-inning reliever.
"Kids in the Cape (Cod League) started calling me Rocket last year, just a mess-around name," Leathersich said. "On the field I'm all business, but off the field I like to joke around, chill with friends. They just started all calling me Rocket. It stuck, then this year all the guys on my college team started calling me that."
Leathersich said he threw only in the mid-80s in high school in Beverly, Mass. He received only low-level Division I offers, so he opted to stay close to home in Lowell.
"I didn't want to go to college and sit around my freshman and sophomore year," Leathersich said. "I wanted to get my name out there, jump into some good summer leagues.
"I had a pretty good freshman year, but still didn't throw very hard. I kept working hard, put on 15-20 pounds and before I knew it was hitting 95, 96."
• Righthander Jeurys Familia went on the Double-A Binghamton disabled list with a shoulder impingement. He went 2-2, 3.38 in 10 starts, notching 64 strikeouts and 25 walks in 56 innings.
• Triple-A Buffalo outfielder Fernando Martinez hit the disabled list in late July with a left hip flexor problem.