This season I’ll be bringing you Q&As with rising stars and interesting players from the other teams in the Eastern League. This edition features Jack Leathersich, the 5th round pick of the New York Mets in the 2011 draft and the #22 rated prospect in their system.
You grew up in Beverly, Massachusetts which is about 30 minutes away from Boston. Were you a big Red Sox fan growing up?
Jack Leathersich: Yeah. Everybody likes the Red Sox up there.
Who were some of the baseball players you liked and emulated?
JL: Billy Wagner was one of them. Tom Glavine. As far as hitters, I like Manny Ramirez but I was never really much of a hitter.
It must have been a privilege to play in the Cape Code League growing up as a Massachusetts boy.
JL: I went to a DII school and it was a stretch for me to get in there but my college coach helped. It was awesome because I was close to home, about an hour and a half away from my house. The Cape is beautiful in the summer, too. It’s an awesome place to play with big crowds. That’s really, really good baseball. That was one of the first times you knew why everybody was there because everybody was good.
What confidence did you gain from playing in that league when you went back to school for your junior season?
JL: I didn’t have a very good sophomore year because my mechanics were all messed up. I had a good summer at the Cape. I learned a lot pitching-wise, baseball-wise just from all of the guys from all over the country. They all had different little tidbits they could give me. I found a consistent delivery in the Cape that wasn’t so long and loose. I tightened up everything and I guess the results came.
What made you choose UMass – Lowell?
JL: In high school I didn’t throw very hard. I probably threw about 85. I was little. I got some offers from some smaller DI schools, but I just really connected with the coach there. They play at an awesome field, the Lowell Spinners field. For any school in the country, you’re not going to play at any better park and we used their locker rooms. The main thing is I wanted to play. I didn’t want to go somewhere and sit on the bench as a freshman. I didn’t want to redshirt, so I just wanted to get in there and play right away. It was good. I’m glad I went there. I wouldn’t change anything.
This spring you traveled with the big league team to a couple of games and pitched. What was that experience like?
JL: It was awesome. It was kind of what I expected. Everybody was just really professional and goes about their business. It was just cool the knowledge you could learn from those guys that have been around the game for so long. It was fun, it was a good experience.
We always hear how the jump to Double-A might be the toughest in the minor leagues, yet you’ve been pretty successful so far. What has been the key to your transition?
JL: My thing has always been my command since sometimes I get a little wild. In Spring Training, I really worked with Frank Viola, Phil Regan, Abby (Glenn Abbott), and pitching coordinator Ron Romanick tightening up my mechanics a little bit more. My thing has always just been keeping the ball down and not being up in the zone. This year I’ve made some adjustments that have helped me to do that. My off-speed pitches have come a long ways. When I came to Double-A I wasn’t trying to change anything up or do anything different. I was just trying to do what I’ve always done which is throw strikes and get outs because so far in my professional career all of the teams I’ve played with the defense has always been awesome. So I just kind of let them make the plays and I just take care of my business out there on the mound.
JL: I like it, it’s fun. It’s a way to get away from baseball and interact with the fans and people who support you. You wouldn’t be here without them. I just like to have fun with it and I can tell they have fun with it too. It’s a good way to get away from baseball and take your mind off of things.
Thanks so much to Jack for taking the time out of his busy schedule and I wish him all the best and continued success on his baseball journey. Also, big thanks to Tim Heiman, Binghamton’s Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations, for arranging the interview.