Throughout spring training I’ll be running down my list of the top 30 Rays prospects, with the occasional weekend interlude. Check back daily to get caught up on the system with a new capsule each day.
Patrick Leonard | 6-4/225
5th round, 2011 draft (St. Thomas HS, TX)
What happened in 2012? Leonard came over to the Rays as the least-familiar face in the James Shields for Wil Myers tradestravaganza. He was taken in the 5th round of the 2011 draft but paid like a 2nd rounder ($600,000 bonus), and his late signing forced him to wait until 2012 to debut. As a 19-year-old with the Burlington Royals in the Appy League, Leonard hit .251/.340/.494 and tied for the league lead in home runs. He walked in 11.2% of his PAs and his 20.5% K% hurt his batting average, though a .269 BABIP did him no favors.
What needs to happen in 2013? Leonard’s 2012 statline reminded me of Jeff Malm’s 2011: A corner guy who hit for a low average but showed on-base and power skills. So Leonard needs to do the things we hoped to see from Malm in his full-season debut: improve the average by cutting down on the strikeouts and becoming less pull-happy and continue to hit home runs and draw walks. Defense will also be a factor here. At 6-4/225 with below-average speed, third base is the last stop before a move across the diamond to first. His actions are good and he has the arm for the hot corner, he just needs to watch his thick lower half. He’s ready for full-season ball but there’s a bit of a third base logjam with Richie Shaffer and Tyler Goeddel in front of him.