Catch Up With The Cajuns: Ryan Leonards
Ryan Leonards flashed the leather over at third base for the Ragin' Cajuns. The White Sox struck some gold when they drafted this grinder.
The "hot corner" requires lightning reactions and a cannon of an arm. He and Blake Trahan made the left side of the infield nearly impenetrable for the Cajuns. His .324 career average while playing under Tony Robichaux was a factor in getting him drafted in the 21st round, but it's the small things that are still translating to the next level.
He's fourth on his ball club, the Kannapolis Intimidators (Full A), in doubles, which should surprise zero members of Cajun nation. With his wheels and contact, it's bound to happen sometime. Speaking of wheels, Leonards already has ten stolen bases to his name in the minor leagues. He played most of his time at third base for the Cajuns, but he's played more at shortstop (56 games) than at third (28). The numbers don't lie though. His fielding percentage is much better at short (.944 vs .877).
He might only be hitting .251 so far in the minors, but he's hitting .273 in his last ten games. Improvement is what managers look for. It doesn't get much better than a grand slam though. The folks in Greenville learned what it looks like when Leonards gets a hold of a ball. Take a gander at this gem from the beginning of June.
That's one of his three career long balls in the pros. He's still lighting up the gaps though: fourteen career doubles and three triples. The walk to strikeout ratio could improve (35 BB, 54 SO), but it takes a while to adjust to big league arms.
Ryan Leonards might not have had the bushiest beard on the Cajuns. He might not have given a ton of sizzling quotes or rubbed shoulders with opponents either. The role he played for the Cajuns made you almost forget about third base. Plays were simply made. Outs were collected and errors rarely went up on the scoreboard or in the score book. Attention to detail, sacrificing with the body in the field and the bunt at the plate and fancy glove work will keep Leonards in the pros.
How fast will he advance through the minor leagues? Only one way to find out. Keep catching up with the Cajuns. Acadiana never forgets their own.