In his first spring training ever—and with last year's Arizona Fall League listed as the only professional fodder on his Major League résumé—Mike Leake snagged the role of fifth starter for the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.
The move makes Leake only the 13th pitcher to completely skip the minor leagues since the amateur draft was introduced in the mid '60s.
It's been 16 years since the last one, Ariel Prieto. He went 15-24 during a six-year career—a possible indicator as to why it has been so long.
Let's hope Leake is lucky number 13.
The rest of the fraternity reads like a who's who of guys the opposing team would like to see on the mound.
Of the 12, only three had careers lasting longer than 10 years: Burt Hooten, Mike Morgan, and Dick Ruthven.
Morgan pitched in four different decades. That probably played a big role in his 186 career losses.
He also had one All-Star appearance. (Ruthven had two, and Hooten had one.)
Hooten is also the only member with a career winning-percentage on the positive side, going 151-136 in a 15-year career. In 1978, he finished a distant second to Gaylord Perry in the NL Cy Young Award race.
Jim Abbott also finds himself on the list.
The human interest story of the club, Abbott did everything left-handed...because he was born without a right one.
He did go 18-11 in 1991—but also sported a 2-18 record in 1996.
Abbott and Hooten did both throw no-hitters.
If anybody wants to be king baseball dork on their block, walk around the neighborhood repeating this to everyone:
"Since the inception of the amateur draft, one out of every six big league pitchers who have jumped straight to the majors has pitched a no-hitter.
"That is not counting Mike Leake. But once the 2010 season starts, it will be one out of every 6.5—that is assuming he does not toss a no-no. If he does, the ratio drops to an amazing three out of 13. Or one out of every 4.3333 (infinity) pitchers."
The brothers to Abbott, Hooten, Morgan, Prieto, and Ruthven names are unheard of to most—excluding family members, close friends, and mistresses (if they were dumb enough to tell them their real names).
In 1967, there was Mike Adamson, the founding father, if you will.
He should have served as a a big, red flag warning, poster child of the move's futility. He ended his three-year career with an 0-4 mark, posting a career 7.46 ERA.
In 1969, Steve Dunning came along, and '71 had two, Hooten and Pete Broberg. Not to be out done by '71, 1973 brought three more members to the clan: the aforementioned Ruthven, Eddie Bane, and David Clyde.
Clyde was the first to jump from high school straight to the big leagues. That didn't really work for him. In 84 games pitched, his career ended with an 18-33 spot.
Baseball wizened up for a few years. It wasn't until 1978 that Morgan and another high-schooler, Tim Conroy, were given chances.
After a 10-year truce, Abbott saw action in 1988. Abbott's success perhaps led the Dodgers to give Darren Dreifort the same treatment five years later.
As mentioned up top, Ariel Prieto was the last guy to get the chance to take the hop.
This has been by far the longest drought—16 years—since an amateur has been tapped to play in the bigs without passing go.
Now, it's Leake's turn. All of Reds' country, keep your fingers crossed. Hopefully, we've got another Hooten on our hands.
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