Aaron Leasher is a prospect who will one day pay dividends for the San Diego Padres. His track record of improvement dictates we have yet to see the best from the southpaw.
The San Diego Padres are loaded with pitching talent.
MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino may steal all the publicity as far as minor league pitchers go, but the system is well stocked. In identifying prospects that are “flying under the radar,” it is necessary to look far beyond the numbers. Certain intangibles cannot be recognized.
The San Diego Padres selected Aaron Leasher in the sixth round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Moorehead State. The left-handed pitcher improved in each of his three seasons in college, showcasing a plus fastball and an excellent changeup. Leasher went 9-3 his last year at Moorehead and struck out 105 batters in 92.1 innings pitched. Despite a 5.37 ERA in college, the Padres saw something in the pitcher they greatly admired.
A player must recognize his strengths and weakness. Young pitchers must learn to adjust and need to recognize the tendencies that batters show against them. For Leasher, the vast improvement each year in college has transitioned to the professional level where the lefty has improved in each of his three seasons with the Padres. The Michigan native went 10-7 last year with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.225 WHIP in the California League. At the age of 24, there are a ton of reasons to be excited about Aaron Leasher.
Throughout his pro and college career, left-handed hitters have hit better against the pitcher than right-handers. His changeup and outside fastball location is key to his success. Leasher does throw a slider, but the pitch is not on the same level as his other two selections. Or at least, it hasn’t been. The pitcher is working hard to rectify that. “One of my main focuses this off-season was developing a more consistent slider. Figuring out what adjustments I needed to make to get that pitch where it needs to be,” Leasher said. If he can master a third pitch, his likelihood of advancement improves vastly. The slider is key as Leasher is aware of his necessity to get left-handers out more efficiently. “Improving the ability to spin the ball will make me less one-dimensional with my FB-CH combo,” Leasher admits. The southpaw wants to be more consistent with the pitch. If he can use the slider as an out pitch against left-handed batters, he could turn the corner with his overall production. That is an exciting thing to imagine for the Padres.
The 6-foot-3 pitcher is motivated and has been throwing since mid-November in preparation for the upcoming season. Here is a glimpse at Leasher last year, in Lake Elsinore, to give you an idea of his mechanics and such as he throws the ball.
The Padres admire the fact Leasher is an innings eater. The southpaw threw 122.1 innings last year and 118.2 innings the year before. Last season, for the Storm, Leasher never amassed 100 pitches in a game. Despite that fact, the pitcher threw many seven-inning games for his team and had no trouble constantly going deep into games. “Being efficient is a big part of pitching for anybody. In my mind, it’s about making every pitch you throw a competitive one and attacking the strike zone in any count. If you’re pitching behind in the count frequently, that makes it tough to pitch deeper into games,” Leasher said. There is an understanding of how to pitch from this young hurler. Taking pride in going deep into games is one thing, but there is a desire in Leasher to improve significantly.
At the end of the 2019 season, Aaron Leasher earned a promotion to Double-A Amarillo and the Texas League. Participating in the Sod Poodles’ playoff run is fueling the pitcher. There is an understanding from him that he is getting close to his goal of major league service time. Several pitchers leapfrogged into the major leagues last year from Amarillo. If all goes well, the pitcher will be knocking on the door very soon. “My main focuses for 2020 are to stay healthy, keep learning, and keep adapting. Making adjustments when necessary and doing what I need to do to be as prepared as possible,” Leasher said. There is no question he will be prepared when his time comes. Expect the pitcher to start to earn some national press this coming season as he creeps closer to major league service time.