Jack Leathersich, who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 amateur draft by the Mets, is putting up numbers in AA that are simply absurd. The 5′ 11″, 205 pound lefty has struck out 51 batters in 27.1 innings pitched (16.8 strikeouts per 9). That’s not a typo. Aside from the insane strikeout rate, Leathersich has held opponents to a .165 BAA while compiling a 1.32 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. It’s reached the point where the Mets should be considering him for a promotion to the big leagues, while skipping him over the pitcher’s hell that is AAA Las Vegas.
The 22 year old has been known for his wildness in the past, but he seems to have gotten that in check. In the month of May and so far in June, Leathersich has walked only three batters while striking out 30 over 14.1 innings pitched. During his outing last night for Binghamton, Leathersich touched 96 MPH on the gun with his fastball. Toby Hyde of Mets Minor League Blog noted before the season that Leathersich ordinarily sits between 91 and 93 MPH with his fastball. If he’s able to reach back for 96 at times, that’s huge.
It’s important to realize that while Leathersich is a southpaw, he is not someone who should be used to get lefties out. He has severe reverse platoon splits, sporting a .320 BAA versus lefties compared to a .111 BAA versus righties this season. If and when Leathersich is called up, someone in the organization will have to explain to manager Terry Collins that Leathersich isn’t his new toy that should be used to get lefties out.
Before the season, Toby Hyde ranked Leathersich 31st on his list of Mets prospects, noting that his ceiling was that of a “nice middle reliever.” That may turn out to be the case, but that ranking was made before Leathersich began tearing through AA this season. Even if Leathersich turns out to be just a “nice middle reliever,” and not a late inning guy, that’s still something the Mets certainly need.
Presently, the Mets have a bunch of players on the major league roster (both position players and pitchers) who have done nothing to merit keeping their spot in the majors. The team is 22-33, nowhere near contention. This is the time that should be used to decide which players may be able to contribute to the next contending Mets team. It’s on the Mets to decide who to demote/release to make room for players who need to be evaluated. Either way, Leathersich deserves an opportunity to show what he can do at the major league level – sooner rather than later.