Cincinnati Reds' "Iceman" Mike Leake Strong in First-Game Performance
Who needs the Minor Leagues? Mike Leake certainly doesn't.
He pitched the first professional game of his career yesterday at Great American Ball Park against the Chicago Cubs.
In the first inning, he had the bases loaded with no outs, yet managed to keep his cool and leave the innings unscathed. That's what I'm talking 'bout.
He showed the poise of a veteran as he worked into the seventh inning of his pro debut. He was wild as a buck but allowed minimal damage from his control problems.
Leake was only the 21st player to jump straight to the Major Leagues without spending one day in the minors. Chicago Cubs outfielder Xavier Nady was the last to do it in 2000.
Just last season Leake was pitching for the Arizona State Sun Devils.
In his pro debut, Leake's final line reads: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 7 BB, 5 SO. That boils down to a fine ERA of only 1.35. He also had a wild pitch to go with the seven walks.
After a three-up, three-down second inning, Leake left two men on in the third, yet worked his way out of trouble.
Kosuke Fukodome can lay claim as the first player who "owns" Leake. The Cub right fielder was 3-4 against the 22-year-old rookie. He proved harder to get out than blood from khakis.
Keep in mind this was not your average rookie start. This was a professional debut, not just an MLB debut.
Things to take from his first appearance include his calmness. He was unrattled even with the bases loaded and nobody out. Iceman, I tell you.
Leake complements what promises to be a very good starting rotation of Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, and Aaron Harang (if he pitches like he did against the Cubbies).
He had some fairly stiff competition for the fifth spot on the rotation in the Cactus League. Matt Maloney, Aroldis Chapman, and Travis Wood all were in line for that final spot in the rotation.
I don't think the walks will be a continued problem as he allowed less than two per nine innings at Arizona State.
Any real Reds fan will look at what Leake did and not only marvel at it, but take solace in the fact that he will be here for a while.
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