Scouting Report and Video: Jose Leclerc
The brother of fellow Rangers farmhand Anyelo Leclerc, Jose Leclerc is two years younger and has the bigger arm of the two. While Anyelo, 21, works mostly at 88-91 mph and can throw all three of his pitches for strikes, 19-year-old Jose flashes plus velocity with a potential plus breaking ball to boot.
The brothers both posted strong numbers at the lower levels last season. Anyelo, listed at 6-foot-0, 170 pounds, had a 2.96 ERA with 52 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 48.2 innings for the rookie-level Surprise Rangers. Jose, on the other hand, was named a Dominican Summer League All-Star for his performance in the island circuit last season. The similarly built (6-foot-0, 165 pounds) righty had a 1.54 ERA in 19 relief appearances. Over 46.2 innings, he gave up 32 hits, walked 18, and struck out 41.
Signed in December 2010 by Rangers Dominican scout Willy Espinal, Leclerc made his pro debut with the DSL Rangers in 2011––playing alongside Anyelo. While Anyelo progressed forward to Arizona last season, Jose remained in the Dominican.
Jose's performance last summer put him on the prospect radar, however. He attended fall instructional league in Arizona following the 2012 campaign and is currently pitching in his first spring training. He'll make his state-side debut this season at a short-season level––with either the rookie Surprise Rangers or short-season Spokane Indians.
The 19-year-old Leclerc put on an impressive showing at instructs last fall and just narrowly missed being ranked in Lone Star Dugout's top 50 Rangers prospects list.
With the help of an ultra-fast arm, Leclerc produces plus velocity from his smallish 6-foot-0 frame. While at instructs last fall, the Dominican Republic native showed a 90-94 mph fastball (sitting 92-93) that had some late life down in the zone at times. He amped up the velocity during Tuesday's minor league intrasquad game, working consistently at 94 mph with one fastball at 92 and one up to 95 in his inning.
There's not much physical projection remaining for the youngster, but given the arm speed and present velocity, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him sit around the mid-90s in short relief bursts. Leclerc may pitch in a starting role this season, but his body and delivery give him an ultimate relief profile. There's some effort in his delivery, though he's a good enough athlete who should be able to repeat and throw strikes.
Leclerc's second pitch is his curveball; he shows the ability to spin a potential plus breaker. He's inconsistent with it at present, though. The offering has good depth with two-plane break when he gets on top. He doesn't always throw it with the same conviction (arm speed) as his fastball, causing it to be more of a low-70s pitch currently that should get harder as he develops. Though there is development needed for his curveball, the most important thing is that there's clearly a quality breaking ball in the arm.
The righty will also mix in a changeup, throwing it anywhere between 81-86 mph at instructs and 83-84 in Tuesday's game. Leclerc cuts his changeup so much at times that it almost looks like a sharp slider––you'll no doubt see that in the video below. But after checking with his catcher (Pat Cantwell) following Tuesday's outing, it wasn't a slider; it was a changeup that he was seriously getting around.
With a December 19, 1993 birthdate, Leclerc will pitch the entire season at age 19. Already possessing a mature fastball, the prospect will need to refine his secondaries as he matures. But he should have enough polish for success at the lower levels, and he's an intriguing lower-level power arm worth tracking.
Leclerc was the last arm to throw in Tuesday's 11-inning Double-A/Triple-A intrasquad scrimmage. Don't take the early-spring assignment into account––he'll pitch at either Arizona or Spokane (with Spokane most likely) this coming summer.
The hurler tossed a scoreless inning, getting one strikeout (Jeremy Williams) and surrendering one single (Alejandro Selen).
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