The Tampa Bay Rays have a tremendous number of high-quality prospects in their system. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
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Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The second player to be examined in detail is….
#30: Patrick Thomas Leonard, 1B/3B, 23 years old
- Bats: Right Ht/Wt: 6’4″ 225 lbs
- Drafted: by KC in the 5th round of the 2011 draft out of St-Thomas HS (Houston)
- Acquired: from the Royals as part of the James Shields deal
- Signed for: $600,000 in August 2011
- 2015 Affiliate: Montgomery
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2017+
More stats available here from Fangraphs.
- Made the 2010 Underclass First Team
- Was District player of the year prior to being drafted and was also noted for his pitching abilities while a Junior, going 6-1 with a 0.64 ERA
- Was committed to the University of Georgia prior to the draft
- The most prominent MLB players and prospects taken in the 5th round along with Leonard include Boston’s Mookie Betts (16 picks later) and Pittsburgh’s Tyler Glasnow (4 picks earlier)
- John Sickels had this to say about Leonard: Unrefined power hitter, some scouts think he needs to go to college and work on hitting breaking stuff, which he currently has problems with. Strong University of Georgia commitment
- Prior to the draft, Leonard spent 3 years at 3 different HS (2 in FLA, 1 in TEX). During his final season, Craig Biggio was his coach and mentor
- Did not make the Top 30 Royals prospects in 2012 after being drafted by them in 2011
- Throughout his minor league career, Leonard has seen big ups and bid downs, proving to be as streaky as they come
- On his season in AA, Leonard noted that “It hasn’t been the best start so far, but the last two weeks I’ve been doing better and feeling better,” Leonard said. “A big thing is ending on a good note.”
- His HS coach noted that although he played SS in High School, Leonard would likely wind up at 3B
- Showed off his power potential most of all while in HiA
Once he was drafted by the Royals, Leonard spoke about his baseball roots:
"“I was on my first all-star T-ball team when I was six years old, and the core group of that team stayed together for almost ten years and shared the goal of being major leaguers one day. Those years really fostered a love of baseball and a firm foundation of the game that I carry with me now.”"
On which position he would rather play, Leonard had this to say:
"“I just want to be out there playing. If I had to choose, I would definitely choose third because there is more exciting action.”"
Best Tools & Abilities
- Raw Power (50)
- Throwing Ability (55)
- Makeup and Positional Flexibility
- Scouting grades from MLB.com: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Leonard may be the most awkward ranking to go through as you go through the Rays prospect rankings. It’s frustrating because his power potential scream top 20, while his hitting ability tames that excitement and pushes him down to rounding out the Top 30. As an above-average player at 1B, he’ll need every ounce of his power to make it to The Show.
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First, we love Leonard’s makeup and everything we’re read about him speaks to a great character player and person. Someone who truly loves baseball, has a close knight family, and is making the best of the entire experience as he works through the minors. That will always buy a prospect more lives as a team attempts to decide who makes the grade and who is passed along.
When we take a close look at Leonard, there are glimpses of hope that provide us with opportunities to ponder. His positional flexibility, due to spending time at SS in HS, 1B/3B/OF in the minors, allow for us to see him brought up as a bat off-the-bench and utility player. While not an ideal way to make it, many players have taken on that role and have grown into full time regulars. The chance to work on their hitting abilities while helping the team out at various positions is an invaluable experience and one that Leonard may find himself in when he gets a shot at some point near 2017.
On the power side of things, Leonard has some of the purest raw power in the Rays system. Along with a few others, he can put a charge in any pitch and get it over the fence. The issue he had in AA was to make adjustments as required in order to square the ball up more consistently as pitchers increased their use of offside pitches. For now, he can only project as a gap-to-gap power guy, which limits his potential as a regular 1B.
Leonard made adjustments during the second half of the season in 2015, and wound up hitting .289/.392/.439 over that period. Along with 20 extra-base hits in 228 AB, it showed some promise. However, he also struck out 64 times over that span, more than a quarter of the time (28%). If he’s going to move up to the next level, Leonard will have to address that issue in 2016. The fact that he mashed LHP to the tune of .330/.390/.571 with 14 extra base hits in only 91 AB lends itself to the possibility of a future platoon and off-the-bench role in MLB.
Being available in the Rule 5 draft for the second time in 2 years, it remains to be seen whether or not another MLB team takes a shot on Leonard’s power potential. If he remains with the Rays, we expect him to repeat AA in hopes of resolving his issues and building up his confidence, with the possibility of making an impact late in the season or more likely in 2017 when the time is right.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about Leonard and his positional versatility may be the deciding factor that gets him in the majors. What he does with that opportunity if and when it comes will be fun to watch, particularly against LHP. We wish him all the best.
We hope you enjoyed the article and examination of Patrick Leonard. Along with our #40, Devin Davis, he’s part of great depth at 1B. While he has similar power potential to Davis and has him beat with a better bat overall, his defensive abilities will be an issue going forward. That may relegate him to a DH/1B matchup role depending on who the Rays are facing that day.
Hopefully it brought you some information you weren’t aware of and provides for a better appreciation of what he’s all about. As we conclude the article, here’s a video of him for your enjoyment.
A short video of his first AA Home Run, displaying his quick stroke and overall power: