Growing up in Canada is challenging for young pitchers aspiring to play professionally due to the climate and competition level. But in recent years, more and more prep players from Canada are getting noticed by professional scouts.
In the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft, 25 players from Canada heard their names called throughout the three-day draft process.
With the 2017 MLB Draft less than three months away, another young group of Canadian prospects could hear their names called on draft day, with right-handed prep pitcher Landon Leach likely going in the early rounds of the draft.
Baseball American ranks the Ontario native as the 42nd-best prep prospect in June’s draft. A University of Texas at Austin commit, Leach is trying his best not to get caught up in the draft attention.
“I’m not really think about (the draft) right now,” Leach said. “If everything goes well, hopefully everything then goes well with the draft.”
A 6-foot-4, 213-pound righty, Leach only started pitching last year, after being a full-time catcher growing up. His baseball coach recommended he switch to pitching last year, due to his arm strength and size.
“At first I was skeptical because all I knew was catching,” said Leach about transitioning to pitching. “It wasn’t that hard, but it was a little difficult at first getting to know the mechanics and mindset of being a pitcher. I’m glad I changed.”
Leach has a four-pitch repertoire, featuring a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, changeup and slider. His fastballs sit in the low-to-mid-90s.
“I attack the zone early in the count,” Leach said. “I feel like I have good mound presence. I don’t get down on myself when things are starting to go bad.”
Leach made it a priority to refine his changeup this past off-season and plans on continuing to work on the off-speed pitch throughout the spring in order to keep hitters off balance.
“It’s been coming along well, but I still need to perfect it,” said Leach about his changeup. “I had to start using it because 92 mph was night and day for hitters and it was nothing (to them). I had to start using my changeup because they kept ripping on the (fastball).”
Leach plays for Team Canada and was the team’s closer last season. He will make his first outing this spring with Team Canada against the Toronto Blue Jays in Florida on March 25.
In his final season of prep baseball, Leach hopes to remain injury-free, as he continues to build up his stamina on the mound.
“My goal is to stay healthy,” Leach said. “Stay healthy, throw a lot of strikes and go at hitters.”
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