- Full name John Victor Leathersich
- Born 07/14/1990 in Beverly, MA
- Profile Ht.: 5'11" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: R / Throws: L
- School Massachusetts-Lowell
- Debut 04/29/2015
Drafted in the 5th round (162nd overall) by the New York Mets in 2011 (signed for $110,000).
View Draft ReportUMass-Lowell's Jack Leathersich has been in the Riverhawks rotation since his freshman year, but he's best suited to pitch out of the bullpen, which is where he had success in the Cape Cod League last summer. An arm-strength lefty, Leathersich struck out 31 batters in 21 innings of relief for Orleans, running his fastball up to 95 mph, while he works at 88-92 as a starter. He shows two fringe-average breaking balls, a slurve and a curveball, but he slows everything down in his delivery on secondary offerings. Scouts have concerns about Leathersich's mechanics, as he throws across his body with recoil and often loses his arm slot. Some talked him up as a potential top-five-rounds selection, but he'll probably be taken in the eighth- to 12th-round range.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Cubs' offseason bullpen makeover opens a door for Leathersich, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers in November 2015 and added to the 40-man roster after the 2016 season. Leathersich was coming off Tommy John surgery, which he had in July 2015. He has big league time with the Mets, and he got back on the mound in June 2016, finishing at Triple-A Iowa and pitching 23 innings overall. Leathersich has never had good control, but he has thrived with deception on a low-90s fastball that tops out at 94 mph. He's wild but gets swing-and-misses at an advanced rate with his high fastball and inconsistent, but at times plus, curveball. That has helped lead to a career mark of 15 strikeouts per nine innings. He will occasionally mix in a below-average changeup. Leathersich will compete with Rule 5 pick Caleb Smith, veteran Brian Duensing and prospect Rob Zastryzny for lefty bullpen innings in 2017.
Few pitchers revel in missing bats quite like Leathersich, who notched 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings as a reliever across two Class A levels in 2012 before upping the ante in 2013 with 15.7 whiffs per nine at Double-A and Triple-A. That rate that topped all qualified minor league relievers. Unfortunately, Leathersich also walked 6.9 per nine. Batters struggle to pick up--or square up--Leathersich's 92-94 mph tailing fastball, though Triple-A batters did a better job fouling it off while waiting for the southpaw to throw four wide ones. His breaking ball can feature wicked depth at times, but he could improve its consistency by staying back in his delivery. He also mixes in the occasional fringe changeup. Leathersich has the ideal reliever's mentality in that he never backs off, even when he's getting hit. Now he needs to throw more strikes. Remarkably, Leathersich has held righthanded batters to a .170 average in his two years in full-season ball, striking out 40 percent of them.
As a starter at Massachusetts-Lowell, Leathersich ranked second among all NCAA Division II pitchers with 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011. As a pro, he has raised that mark to 14.8 per nine working in relief. After breezing through two levels of Class A ball in 2012, he isn't going back to the rotation. Where many lefty relievers rack up whiffs with breaking balls or changeups, Leathersich generates most of his swings and misses with a 91-94 mph fastball he throws downhill with tailing life. He throws slightly across his body and hides the ball until the last instant, which proved to be a tough look for righthanded batters in 2012. They hit just .162/.276/.237 with 83 strikeouts in 205 at-bats. Leathersich sometimes shows tight rotation on an above-average curveball, and he can improve the consistency and finish on the pitch by staying back in his delivery. He'll need to refine a fringy changeup to give him a weapon to combat righties as the level of competition improves. He already has a memorable Twitter handle (@LeatherRocket), and with improved control Leathersich one day could be remembered as a quality reliever.
Leathersich ranked second among all NCAA Division II pitchers with 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011 and became the first Massachusetts-Lowell player drafted since Marlins 29th-rounder Aaron Easton in 2004. After signing him for $110,000, the Mets shifted Leathersich to the bullpen with Brooklyn, where he made one- or two-inning relief appearances every five days. He struck out 26 of the 47 batters he faced while allowing just six hits. Leathersich sat at 88-92 mph as a starter in college but ran his heater up to 96 with good life as a reliever. His curveball has big, hard break and graded as a plus-plus pitch at times in short bursts out of the Cyclones bullpen. Leathersich has below-average command and little feel for a changeup at this stage. Add in mechanical concerns--he throws across his body and his arm recoils after release--and he may be limited to a relief role. New York intends to develop Leathersich as a starter, but his potential as an impact lefty reliever could hasten a role switch and put him on the fast track.