The move to Triple-A was a bit eye-opening for Leathersich, who turned in a 7.76 earned run average in 28 Vegas games. His strikeout rate was similar to what it was when he tore through Single-A, fanning 47. He ran into issues with walks, however, and he’s spent parts of the offseason looking to eliminate them.
“My arms feels great,” he said between workouts in Atlanta alongside the Mets’ Zach Wheeler. “It’s been timing and mechanics. Especially this offseason, my time, energy and focus has been on mechanics — cleaning some things up so I can throw more strikes.”
After the season, pitchers typically don’t throw for a few months to care for their arms. Leathersich did plenty of strength training at Cressy Performance in Hudson, and has relished the chance to work out with fellow pros down South.
When a pitcher is working on his form, there is simply no substitute for an actual dirt mound. Those are hard to come by in New England in January, when a surprise snowstorm can ruin a long toss session post haste.
“It’s such a big difference being outside and being on a dirt mound. I’m really lucky to be able to use some of these facilities. It’s been awesome,” Leathersich said.
“It’s just so much more realistic. Even just having a dirt mound, being able to wear spikes and plant your foot in there makes a difference. The temperature, the wind ... throwing inside can be great, but it is different.”
If Leathersich returns to Triple-A, it’ll be with a familiar face. The Mets recently named former Red Sox starter Frank Viola, who worked with him in Single-A, as the pitching coach in Las Vegas.
In the meantime, the goal for the Beverly High graduate is to throw strikes. Doing that will certainly lead to getting outs, and ultimately if the chips fall the right way, lead him to New York.
“I’m definitely very confident going into this year,” said Leathersich. “I’m excited to get down there and get starts. I’m going to keep doing my thing — and I think it’ll all pay off.”