Interview: Jack Leathersich on Strikeouts, Mechanics and Improving

Jack Leathersich, the Mets’ fifth round pick out the University of Lowell in the fifth round has put up some eye-popping numbers in his brief professional carer. In Savannah, in 24 innings, he struck out 37 and walked eight, fanning 40% of the batters to face him while putting up a 0.75 ERA (2 ER/24 IP).

His fastball sits in the low 90s, 91-93 mph on a given night.  Hitters really do not seem to see it well out of his hand at all as he turns his back to the hitter in his motion. However, he believes that the key to his success has been an improved curveball born out of cleaner more repeatable mechanics.

He earned a promotion to advanced-A St. Lucie just one day after we sat down for this interview.

On his how he gets his strikeouts:
I kinda just try to get ahead, strike one. I like to throw off-speed early in the count sometimes and get ‘em guessing and then late in the count, I’ll just try to throw a fastball belt up to either get the swing and miss or fly out.

On improving his curveball:
Yeah, it’s coming along. Frank and I have been pretty close for a while now. The number one thing was off-speed pitches. I’ve made some big strides and I’m able to go out there with confidence and able to throw them in most counts.

The adjustments that have helped his curveball
Same release point every time. Sometimes I’d come in, and I’d open up and it’d be flat. I throw it as hard as I can and just try to stay through it as Frank says and keep my head online to the catcher’s glove.

Why focusing on his head helps
I’ve always had a tendency to fly open because my leg gets down before my arm get through the zone so that would cause my breaking ball to be flat and my fastball to be up and out of the zone. So just kinda staying through, and head to the target and having my leg balanced when I bring it up has been a major adjustment. I can’t say enough about Frank; he’s really helped me out with all of that stuff.

On making his delivery more repeatable in Savannah
Absolutely. Same thing happened last summer. Sometimes you’re just trying to go a million miles an hour instead of, as Frank says, just kinda “slowing the game down.” Lately, I’ve just been able to do that, and keep my team in the game and give them a chance to win.

On Finding a Summer Collegiate League Team in the Valley League in Virginia (where he started to get noticed as a professional prospect):
My coach, Ken Haring, at UMass-Lowell, we bonded pretty quick out of high school. I wanted to go to a school that I could pitch. I didn’t want to sit around as a freshman. I wanted to get my work in and start improving as a player and as a person. He had a connection down there. He had a guy who played for him, Ryan Fecteau, who’s now the coach down there in Haymarket. I went down there right after my freshman year and pitched pretty well.

Next steps as a pitcher
Just staying consistent with everything. Staying through the ball. ‘Cause when I get in trouble, I’m not thinking about that stuff. It’s all about throwing strikes. If you can get ahead of the hitters, it makes your job a lot easier and it makes the hitters’ job a lot tougher.

On becoming a reliever after starting in college
During the summer [in 2010] in the Cape Cod League, I was a setup guy down there, so I’d throw the eighth inning every night. We had a closer, Marcus Stroman, who should be a top 10 pick this year’s draft. He’s one of my good friends and he kinda helped me out with the ‘pen. I definitely like throwing out of the bullpen more. Starting, I think too much. I’m just more one of those guys who needs to say, “you’re pitching in the next five minutes, so get ready.”

On joining Twitter where he tweets at @LeatherRocket
I was in the Cape Cod League with Marcus and he had one, and he got me on there one day. He always called me “Rocket” so I kinda made that name and it stuck. I like it. It’s a way to get out to the fans and talk to some people and kinda get your name out there.

Best Meal in Savannah
Definitely the Pink House. It was unbelievable. I had the shrimp and grits. It was phenomenal. … And I’ve eaten a lot of oysters down here so far.

 

Complete Audio of our interview is below
Jack Leathersich Interview