Big Leake

The Reds are thrilled Mike Leake fell to them at No. 8

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CINCINNATIThe way Chris Buckley figures it, if Mike Leake had the prototypical build of a righthanded pitcher, he would not have been around when the Reds picked at No. 8.
The Reds were boxed in by their desire to stick to slot, and while RHP Mike Leake is a proven winner who should advance quickly, they could have gotten more ceiling at No. 8 overall. SS Billy Hamilton (second round) is one of the fastest players in the draft.

"I think if he was 6-feet-2, he probably would have for sure gone before us," said Buckley, the Reds' scouting director. "Dustin Pedroia is 5-feet-8. Sometimes they come in smaller packages."

Leake is definitely a smaller package at 6-foot, 170 pounds.

But the Reds were impressed with his record at Arizona State. He went into the College World Series with 40-6 career record and 2.81 ERA. He was 16-1 with a 1.36 ERA this year. He had allowed only 79 hits and 21 walks with 150 strikeouts in the 132 2/3 innings.

"He's a very polished college pitcher, throws four pitches," Buckley said. "The numbers are just off the charts. He's a very good baseball player. He's one of their better position players. This guy hit the ground running in college. He's a groundball pitcher. We're thrilled to have him."

The Reds will develop Leake as a starter.

"He throws 89, 93, everyone once in a while 94. Slider, curveball, changeup," Buckley said. "He's a very polished guy, low maintenance college pitcher. Those numbers to aluminum bats are pretty scary."

The 7.14-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio impressed Buckley.

"It's his command and how polished he is," Buckley said. "He throws four pitches for strikes. He can throw them at anytime. He's an outstanding fielder. He's got an outstanding pickoff move. He has all the intangibles that good pitchers have."

Buckley said general manager Walt Jocketty liked the pick.

"He was thrilled. First of all, we got the kid [Zach] Stewart last year from Texas (Tech). This guy's a ground ball pitcher. That's a good formula here."

Stewart, last year's third-round pick has already moved to Double-A. While Leake is polished, he's also pitched a lot of innings.

"I would think (he can start at a high level)," Buckley. "But again he's 16-1. So he's pitched a fair amount of baseball this year. You don't want to rush him and you don't want to put him in a situation where you could get him hurt."