On its face, this trio is a hodgepodge. It is. However, when read as part of a greater group that covers #26-33 it makes more sense as a range where the rankings mix unproven guys with upside like Chris Flexen and Corey Oswalt with more accomplished players like Jack Leathersich and Cam Maron with lower ceilings.
#31 – LHP Jack Leathersich
Born: 7/14/90 (Beverly, MA)
2012 Rank: 34 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Leathersich is ranked here because he is a middle reliever. His fastball is ordinary; mostly 91-93 on a good night. He attacked lower-level hitters with the pitch and a little bit of deception and that was good for crazy strikeout numbers in the New York Penn League and South Atlantic League.
Leathersich did a better job repeating his delivery in 2012 and he showed a solid understanding of pitching mechanics. Instead of opening up too early, he stayed online to the plate better. As a result, he had a more consistent release point and better break on his curveball.
2012: Leathersich blew through the South Atlantic League but ran into trouble in advanced-A St. Lucie. Note that his walk rate climbed above the MLB average of 8.5% in advanced-A as batters partly stopped chasing his stuff. Of course, he also struck out an absurd 36% of opposing hitters.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A nice middle reliever.
Debbie Downer Says: A nice middle reliever in AAA
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 2014
#32 – RHP Chris Flexen
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 215 lbs
Acquired: 14th rd (Memorial HS)
2012 Rank: NA | Stats
Why Ranked Here: I saw Flexen’s first professional start. It was something less than love at first sight, but I like his arm. He has a good pitcher’s body at 6’3” with some bulk. At the time I wrote: ”he showed a 92-94 mph fastball and then four other pitches. He used his cutter a lot, at 85-86 mph, it looks like a slider, but he calls it a cutter. He also showed a curveball at 74-75 that has a chance to be average, a slider at 81 mph and changeup at 83 with some good armspeed.
He was hurt by fastball command when I saw him. “I went out there, left a few pitches up, guys swung the bat,” he said. “Just gotta go back, analyze everything and fix the mistakes. I was leaving a lot of fastballs up and middle. So, location, location, location. Gotta hit the spots better.”
2012: So the Appalachian League hit him up a bit. Even so, his walk rate was under 10%.
Dr. Pangloss Says: There’s a small chance there’s a mid-rotation starter in here if his fastball command comes along and everything else improves too. Otherwise, I’ll take 94 out of the bullpen please.
Debbie Downer Says: The fastball command is a long way away. He might never graduate AA.
Projected 2013 Start: Extended Spring Training then Brooklyn.
MLB Arrival: Late 2017
#33 – C Cam Maron
Why Ranked Here: Maron moves up six spots by having a nice 2012 in which he was one of only 12 players in the SAL who qualified for the batting title to hit .300 in his age 21 season. He did it in an environment – Historic Grayson Stadium – that is extremely hostile to offense. Maron is an extremely patient hitter who rarely expands his strike zone. He generates very little power naturally. By the second half of the season, he had learned to attack pitches that he could turn on.
Maron’s batting average will take a hit as he moves up. He ran a .366 BABIP in Savannah. Some of the bloops and grounders that find holes in a-ball will be gobbled up by more advanced defenders.
Maron works well with his pitching staff, and works hard at understanding his pitchers strengths and weaknesses and opposing hitters. That’s the strong part of his defensive game. Throwing out runners is a decided weak spot. He nailed just 13% of attempted base stealers in the SAL in 2012. I just do not see enough carry and zip on Maron’s throws to make him an average catcher when it comes to throwing out opposing baserunners. His arm strength puts a whole lot of pressure on his footwork and release to be nearly perfect.
One of the problems with ranking Maron is that if he does not hit enough to start, he might not have a big league role as teams like to carry catch and throw guys as their second-string catchers.
2012: Maron got better as the season went on and finished each of his last three months (June, July and August) with an on-base percentage of .396 or better including a .333/.470/.468 line in August and September and the FSL playoffs.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Remember Josh Thole? Yeah, kinda like that.
Debbie Downer Says: Yes, doctor, I do. Thole is starting in AAA for Toronto this year.
Projected 2013 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie
MLB Arrival: 2015 for a cup o’ MLB