Sunday, December 9, 2012

Patrick Leonard Scouting Report

The Rays and the Royals made a blockbuster trade on Sunday night. The Rays gave up Wade Davis, James Shields, and a Player to Be Named Later (or cash) for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard. Since he is the least known guy in the trade, and I haven't written anything about him, I decided to write a report on Patrick Leonard. According to J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, he was a prospect "on the rise" (and BA had him as the 18th best player in a good system).

Leonard was a 5th round pick by the Royals in 2011 out of high school in Houston Texas. The 20 year old 3rd baseman (also DH'ed 7 times this year) is a monster of a man, listed at 6-4 225. He made his minor league debut in 2012, playing 62 games of Rookie Ball in the Appalachian League with Burlington. He showed off some skills with the bat there, with a 113 wOBA + and 133 OPS + despite being a touch young for the league. Burlingon's park also played slightly pitcher friendly (but it played slightly hitter friendly in 2011, so you can probably chalk up this fact to sample size, and consider it roughly an average park) and it showed up in his splits as well, as he had a .207 ISO at home and .277 ISO on the road. Of course, we are dealing with small statistical sample sizes, so splits may not be very helpful. This is why I would not be concerned with his .043 ISO against lefties. It is just 53 plate appearances, he is a right-handed hitter, and his K/BB is better than against righties. He didn't hit for a very good average, but didn't strikeout a high amount for a power hitter, had a low BABIP, and walked, giving him a good OBP. Going with what I have seen of Leonard as far as video, he stands very upright (which has worked for some hitters like Troy Tulowitzki) without much leg splits. He seems to take an early leg stride, but not much of a kick, as it isn't very high at all. The stance goes from open to normal by the time the ball gets there (which is, if nothing else, what the leg kick does). He seems to possess a flat swing, but it does not look especially quick. It is very controlled, calm, fluid, and smooth. I suspect that he is a better low ball hitter than a high ball hitter considering his swing and his speed (though some have raved about his bat speed). According to John Sickels, there was concern about how he would handle breaking pitches. Perhaps it is too early to say that this has been proven wrong, but he performed well with a decent walk rate against his peers, so it isn't a massive problem as of now.

Obviously 55 games is a very small sample size at 3rd base, but range factor said he was a very good fielder. FRAA told the same story. He was a shortstop for most of his pre-draft prospect career, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised he is showing good range. Evidently, there is still some thoughts that he may be moved to right-field, but as of right now, that doesn't make a lot of sense. A move may come later, but since he hasn't played a single full season ball game yet, that discussion is most likely premature. He does have good arm, so he would definitely fit out there if needed. He has always been viewed as an athletic player, and he stole 6 bases and had a 5.9 speed score in 2012, so he should either be a good corner outfielder, or at least as of now provide some baserunning value. Considering the power and power potential, that is pretty valuable.

It is obviously early in Leonard's career, but there is a lot to like about Leonard. He could turn into a good three facet player (with a good bat, glove, and running ability) at a non premium position. Of course many things can happen, including probably the likely scenario of his size eventually cutting down on his speed/defense but improving his power. As far as the trade goes, even though I am the least high on Wil Myers than basically anyone I know (the power in AA and AAA are in hitter friendly leagues, a lot of strikeouts, not much, if any, defensive or baserunning value), giving up Odorizzi and Leonard (along with a flier like Montgomery) is too much. As many have pointed out, Shields has scary home/road splits, and Wade Davis has somewhat struggled as a starter (but has been a great reliever).

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