Pittsburgh Pirates fans should not sleep on Jack Leathersich

The Pittsburgh Pirates have made their first round of September call-ups and a recently acquired lefty is certainly a player to keep tabs on this month and into spring next year.

When the Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Sunday the minor leaguers that would join the parent club in September, Jack Leathersich may have been a name that not many people recognized. Perhaps they saw his name come across twitter when the Pirates claimed him on September 4th, shrugged, and then got back to their Fantasy Football Draft.

But they should not sleep on him.

More than just a cool name

Leathersich was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Chicago Cubs on September 4th, so the southpaw will see some big league action before even throwing a pitch with Indianapolis.

Leathersich spent the majority of 2017 with the AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. He did pitch two thirds of an inning for the Cubs this year, in which he gave up two runs on a hit and four walks to go along with one strikeout. Given that this is an extremely small sample size, it is fair to not be too worried by this abbreviated outing.

With Iowa, Leathersich threw 44.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.84. He surrendered just three home runs in those innings, so he does a good job of keeping the ball in the yard. His strikeout numbers have been impressive too, as he had 72 strikeouts in those 44.1 innings.

Through his entire minor league career Leathersich has averaged 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He certainly fits the profile of the players the Pirates like to gamble on for relief roles. A hard thrower that can rack up strikeouts at an impressive rate.

That strikeout ability is due in no small part to Leathersich’s deception, which comes from an odd place:

Though there does not seem to be anything outwardly unusual about his delivery, Leathersich does a great job of hiding the ball, giving him a slight advantage. You’ll also notice in the video that the left-hander can get a bit wild sometimes.

Walk the line, or better yet, don’t

Almost equally unimpressive is the amount of walks that Leathersich has given up during his career. This season with Iowa he averaged 5.7 walks per nine innings which is a little higher than his minor league career average of five. So add in the fact that Leathersich needs to tighten up his control to the face that he is a strikeout machine and it makes sense why the Pittsburgh Pirates added him.

He fits the mold of a reclamation project for Ray Searage.

On reason that Pittsburgh Pirates fans should keep an eye on Leathersich is that the bullpen will be in need of another left handed reliever and he will be in the mix for that role. With Antonio Bastardo gone and Wade LeBlanc far from having a job secured in 2018, Leathersich could be a top candidate for a bullpen job next season. He has a few weeks in September and the spring training to show the team what he can do. But considering that he is not arbitration eligible until 202o and will not hit free agency until 2023 at the earliest, Leathersich is the exact type of player a time in the Pirates’ situation should look to acquire. This is a very low risk acquisition that has the potential to be very valuable.

Photo credit – Flickr Creative Commons

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