Fast Facts (parsed largely from 2013's Leake Report):
- June 6, 2006: Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 7th round of the 2006 amateur draft, but did not sign.
- June 9, 2009: Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1st round (8th pick) of the 2009 amateur draft. Player signed August 17, 2009.
Signed 1 year, $9.775M contract on 01/16/15 (avoided arbitration in his final year of team control)*
* via Cot's Baseball Contracts
Pitch f/x Pitcher Profile (career):
Pitch f/x Pitcher Profile (2014):
Mike Leake's ERA+ by year since 2010 has been 96, 102, 90, 112, and 97 for a cumulative five year mark of 99, meaning his park adjusted career has placed him as a firmly average hurler while on the mound. Combine that with solid range on defense, plus hitting as a batter, and the kind of health and durability every team would envy, and he's had a five year run of being an above average middle-of-the-rotation starter. Fortunately for the Reds, he's spent the bulk of those years as a back-of-the-rotation starter while being relatively inexpensive, and he's been quite the valuable asset for them throughout.
That changes in 2015, though, as Leake will finally be tasked with being a front-line starter, and he'll do so while making a hair under $10 million. If his 2014 is any indication, Leake's peripheral stats suggest he may be capable of rising to the club's wishes, as he posted career best marks in K/9, K/BB, FIP, HR/9, and IP, all while posting a WHIP below his career mark. Batters also sustained a .301 BABIP off Leake in 2014, which suggests there was no significant luck fueling those career best rate stats, either. It's worth noting that he also posted career highs in velocity on most every pitch in his arsenal while also using his fastball significantly more often than in the previous three seasons. That coincided with a drop in usage of most every one of his breaking/secondary pitches - including cutting the use of his change-up nearly in half - and that helped to produce a career best GB% nearly 10% better than his career mark to that point.
In other words, he started using the pitches that he'd historically had the most success with more often, and cut back on using the pitches he'd had the least success with. Smart kid, that Leake.
There may be no pitcher in baseball easier to create stock projections for than Leake, since he's been steady and predictable since he rolled into the majors straight from Arizona State, and most every system sees his 2015 much the same way they've looked at each of his seasons. About 200 innings of 4.00 FIP ball with an ERA slightly better than that due to the remarkable defense behind him, and with his plus pitcher's bat and plus defense, he's probably going to be a 2.5 WAR player. Leake, of course, will be hoping for a bit more than that since he's heading towards free agency at just 27 years of age, and he surely knows that any significant uptick in that performance will be extremely lucrative.