This is a popular feature piece here at the IBI that specifically looks at some of the prospects that have maybe not had as much attention they deserve for a variety of reasons but who are interesting or are coming onto the scene. The focus often times can be on the top 50 or so prospects in the organization, but there are some interesting players scattered throughout the system who are interesting and deserve to be talked about as well.
Each week through the end of the season I will profile a player so that people can learn a little more about them. Today we will take a look at right-handed pitcher Michael Letkewicz. What kind of prospect is he? How is his stuff? What kind of future does he have as a prospect? I provide some information on all of that and more below...
Name: Michael Letkewicz
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Current team: Low-A Lake County Captains
2016 Stats: 21 G, 6-0, 1.74 ERA, 41.1 IP, 37 H, 8 R/ER, 0 HR, 18 BB, 24 K
2017 Stats: 5 G, 0-0, 2.89 ERA, 9.1 IP, 12 H, 3 R/ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 6 K
Facts & Info: Letkewicz was selected by the Indians in the 23rd round of the 2016 Draft out of Augustana College (SD). In his senior season in college last season he appeared in 12 games and racked up a 3.59 ERA and in 62.2 innings allowed 67 hits, 25 walks and had 54 strikeouts – and left Augustana ranked tied for 6th in the school in wins (14), 7th in innings pitched (169.0) and 3rd in strikeouts (178).
Stuff: Letkewicz is a pretty dependable strike thrower and does a nice job of locating down and navigating to both sides of the plate. He is a big, strong player who is very muscular and has some arm strength, and has a lot of flexibility and durability to his frame. He shows an above average fastball that sits at 90-93 MPH and flashes plus as it will get up to 94-95 MPH on occasion. He mixes in a developing curveball that flashes above average and can be very feisty and tough on hitters, especially when he is leveraging it down in the zone. His changeup is a is a work in progress and has a chance to be another solid offering for him as he learns to develop a better feel for it and commands it better.
Delivery & Intangibles: Letkewicz shows the makings of a good delivery with some good arm action and has a little bit of deception to it. His delivery is similar to a long toss delivery as just drives and lets it go and doesn’t have the orthodox high leg lift and drop and then stride and drive. He takes a real professional approach to his work and knows how to take care of himself every day. He is very diligent in getting intent with his throwing program every day and is really focused on his plan and what he’s working toward. He is a great teammate and has a good makeup.
Focus: Last year, the strikeout rate was low (5.2 K/9) and the walk rate a little high (3.9 BB/9), but the Indians feel they can work with that and they liked Letkewicz’s ability to limit hard contact, keeping the ball on the ground and toughness with runners on base. Right now, it is about getting him to consistently get to the velocity up to 94-95 MPH and developing his feel for pitching. The big question is just how much upside he has as on one hand he is already 23 years old at the start of his first full season, but on the other hand the Indians believe there is a lot of untapped talent in his right arm that they are hopeful they can bring out of him over the course of the next few seasons. They have really worked with him to refine his pitches by really honing in on his fastball and changeup. Also, even though he pitched in 49 games and threw 169.0 innings in college, he lacks much experience against higher level competition, so the Indians are working with him to get more accustomed to the nuances of pitching and developing a better feel for pitching.
Future: Letkewicz came in as one of the biggest wildcards out of the 2016 Draft because of how raw and undeveloped he is, but he put forth a strong performance in his pro debut with Short-A Mahoning Valley. He was initially a relief pitcher his freshman year at Augustana College but he saw an increase to his velocity and stuff between his freshman and sophomore season and moved into the rotation for his sophomore season. He struggled with injuries in his junior season as he came down with some shoulder pain at the outset of the season that forced him to miss some time and even when he returned he was never really 100% the rest of the year. He came back last year and had a very good showing in his senior season and parlayed that into a selection in the 2016 Draft. While the ERA was impressive and the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark was nice, his middling 3.9 BB/9 and low 5.2 K/9 brings some concern. Still, for a pitcher brought in as somewhat of a project, it was a good first showing and he brings some potential the Indians are hopeful they can tap into. He opened the season at Low-A Lake County and should pitch there for most of the season, though could see a push to High-A Lynchburg late in the year if the opportunity arises to fill in some innings there.