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AFL Rising Stars Game Is Patrick Leonard’s Latest Honor

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Patrick Leonard had a good game at the plate on Monday night, going 1 for 2 with a double and a pair of walks. Unfortunately, games like that have been few and far and between for him as a member of the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League. On the young season, he has just a .212/.297/.273 line in 10 games, striking out 10 times against 3 walks in 37 plate appearances. Yet he was acknowledged nonetheless by being named to the AFL Rising Stars Game, just the latest recognition of the prospect he is becoming.

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To be clear, Leonard is not simply on the team because the Tampa Bay Rays needed a representative. Justin O’Conner is also on the West Division team, and another player could have taken Leonard’s place. But the organizers of the event chose to include Leonard even though they did not have to because he has shown enough to be one of the top prospects in the league. When we look at his numbers, we have to remind ourselves that he just turned 22 years of age and spent all of last season at High-A. He’s young for the league and facing more advanced competition than he has seen before. That he was noticed despite his struggles is a testament to his talent.

Leonard had a poor 2013 at Low-A after the Rays acquired him in the James Shields trade following the 2012 season. This year, though, saw him finally deliver on the potential that made the Rays excited to add him to their organization. Leonard hit to a .284/.359/.448 line for High-A Charlotte, drilling 26 doubles and 13 home runs while driving in 58. Former scout Bernie Pleskoff has been impressed with his bat speed and pitch recognition, believing that Leonard’s power could only improve in the coming years. As people ask whether the Rays have impact hitters in their system, Leonard stands out as one example of a player that fans can look forward to seeing.

It will be fun seeing Patrick Leonard in the Rising Stars Game, and hopefully he can make some progress on his overall Arizona Fall League numbers before the season is through. Double-A will Leonard’s next stop as a professional, and he has the ability to impress once again.

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