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Mike Leake skips minors, named Reds fifth starter

Apr 2, 2010, 7:42 PM EDT

Mike Leake.jpgThere was a possibility that a certain pitcher would skip the minor leagues to win a spot in the Reds rotation this spring, just nobody — or nearly nobody — expected it to be 2009 first-round pick Mike Leake. But he will.

Leake will become the first drafted pitcher to skip the minor leagues altogether since Dodgers pitcher Darren Dreifort in 1994, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Reds manager Dusty Baker made it official on Friday afternoon.

“It’s kind of surreal right now,” Leake said. “It has to soak in a
little.”

Because he signed last August, the 22-year-old right-hander didn’t make his pro debut until the Arizona Fall League, posting a 1.37 ERA and 15/3 K/BB ratio over 19 2/3 innings. As a result, he was a relative longshot to crack the rotation this spring. The Reds changed their minds after he posted a 3.00 ERA and 10/4 K/BB ratio over 18 innings, showing maturity beyond his years. He outlasted the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Travis Wood, Kip Wells, Matt Maloney and Micah Owings for the assignment.

  1. john - Apr 2, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    because if there’s a manager in baseball you want to give a pitcher who skipped the minors, it’s Dusty Baker.

  2. GimmeSomeSteel - Apr 2, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    The Reds being noted throughout their recent history for their development and handling of starting pitchers, Cooperstown should get Leake’s bust ready ASAP.

  3. Grant - Apr 2, 2010 at 10:58 PM

    +1,000,000

    and GimmeSomeSteel gets +999,999 for being second.

    Great work fellas

  4. Tired - Apr 3, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    Great! Now get Chapman up around June and another bat or two & lets see what happens!

  5. jwb - Apr 3, 2010 at 1:37 AM

    The pitchers who have skipped the minors since the draft was instated aren’t exactly the most inspiring group:
    Spring 2009 Mike Leake
    Spring 1995 Ariel Prieto
    Spring 1993 Darren Dreifort
    Spring 1988 Jim Abbott
    Spring 1978 Tim Conroy
    Spring 1978 Mike Morgan
    Spring 1973 David Clyde
    Spring 1973 Eddie Bane
    Winter 1973 Dick Ruthven
    Spring 1971 Pete Broberg
    Spring 1971 Burt Hooton
    Spring 1969 Steve Dunning
    Spring 1967 Mike Adamson

  6. yankeh8r - Apr 3, 2010 at 3:54 AM

    Well all I can say is that if you gave Jim Abbott a right hand I would officially have never heard of any of these guys – great company to keep.

  7. Astrozac - Apr 3, 2010 at 4:38 AM

    ^ As a whole you’re right theirs no hall of famers there. But “officially” how’ve you never heard of Mike Morgan, Darren Driefort or at least Burt Hootan(who also threw a no-no in has career) though…

  8. Paul from Virginia - Apr 3, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    A little bit of minor league season is the proper rite of passage – just check the record books. The Nats are doing it right with Strasburg; the Reds are making a big mistake with Leake. Dreifort was a bust with the Dodgers, really. Big Ben McDonald was the same with the Orioles. Patience will pay bigger dividends.

  9. A/CbigE - Apr 3, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    Looks like the reds are buying time for chapman. This is not good for leake and 18 innings of spring ball isn’t enough of a guage to throw him into the rotation. Long relief would have been a better fit (at least early) while allowing wood some starts.

  10. jwb - Apr 3, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Heh. Burt Hooton, the best of the lot, is now the pitching coach at Round Rock.

  11. yankeesgameday - Apr 3, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    Speaking of ESPN New York…
    Rob Parker from ESPNNewYork.com, must have been one of the first people to log on to see my article about Robinson Cano being the Most Important Yankee considering that his Friday article bears nearly the same title and utilizes many of the points I made last Wednesday in this article entitled “The Most Important Yankee”. Let’s see how quickly we see articles about Brett Gardner’s situational hitting and AJ Burnett’s control being important to keeping the bullpen fresh coming out of ESPNNewYork as well.
    Check mine out at http://yankeesgameday.blogspot.com/2010/03/most-important-yankee.html
    And his at http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/columns/story?id=5051296
    I give him props for have fancy stats and a better research department than I do.

  12. Matt - Apr 3, 2010 at 7:38 PM

    Another promising pitcher that Dusty Baker can ruin by over-using. Among the list of other promising pitchers ruined or being ruined by Dusty Baker:
    Mark Prior
    Kerry Wood
    Edinson Volquez
    Aaron Harang

  13. cas0cs4 - Apr 3, 2010 at 7:40 PM

    Baker will ride this horse till his arm falls off. Like he did in Chicago with Zambrano. Not good.

  14. jwb - Apr 4, 2010 at 12:16 AM

    I’m not by any means a Dusty Baker apologist, but Kerry Wood’s first surgery came during Jim Riggleman’s tenure. Perhaps we should be worried about Strasburg.
    “mingus feat”

  15. san - Apr 4, 2010 at 7:22 AM

    A couple of people left off your list of players not to play in the minors….
    Sandy Koufax
    Bob Feller
    Mike Morgan had a good career. Jim Abbott was not bad. The major leagues and Cooperstown has tons of players that hardly played in the minors. I doubt that short stint was the deciding factor in their career. Heck, Tim Lincecum spent all of a month in the minors on top of his short time the year he was drafted (which Leake missed).
    On top of all of that, I am sure Leake will be send down at some point. It a stop gap measure while Volquez is rehabbing and/or Wood and Chapmen get some time in the minors.

  16. taa - Apr 8, 2010 at 4:10 AM

    Wow, you sure know a lot about baseball if you can’t recognize one of those names. Did you just start watching last year?

  17. George Borow - Apr 8, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Mike has five great pitches. He doesn’t rely on just a fastball to get him through a game like Chapman. He won’t be having back “issues” every other week. He puts the ball into play and leaves it up to the infield to make the outs. This is what the Reds need. He went 16-1 last year in the hardest College league. He does not get intimidated by the batter no matter who they are. He’ll do fine.

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