Scouting Twin Prospect #49: Dan Leatherman

For Dan Leatherman, the 2006 year was a roller coaster, as he went from being a member of an open tryout at the Metrodome, to being named the Twins Player of the Month for the month of July. Armed with an 89 mile per hour fastball, and a nice changeup and curveball, Leatherman ranks as our 49th ranked player.

Dan Leatherman was a success story for the Twins farm system during the 2006 season, going from a open tryout with the Twins, to being named here in our Top-50 prospects list. The young right-hander took the long road to professional baseball, transferring to West Virginia University from Frederick Community College. Once finished at West Virginia, he made the most of his once opportunity, and now has the chance to really start moving up the Twins system.

Out of FCC, Leatherman pitched plenty for the Mountaineers in his only year with the school, tossing 77.1 innings of work. He struck out 67 batters during his time in the Big East Conference, posting a 7-2 record out of the bullpen. While his earned run average was quite high, finishing with a 5.12 mark, he made an impact on the school in his short time there.

From there, Leatherman attended the Twins open tryout at the Metrodome, and was the only player out of a pool of 130 who received a contract. The reliever received a bonus of $3,500 dollars, and was assigned to the Gulf Coast League Twins. He pleased Twins scouts with a steady three-pitch arsenal.

Leatherman did not last long with the Gulf Coast League Twins, appearing in only three games. In that time, he did not yield an earned run, and struck out eight batters in nine innings of work. He also notched a save, picked up a win, and held the opposition to a .167 batting average. The Twins saw enough of him to promote him to the Beloit Snappers.

Leatherman's first taste of full-season ball was a successful one, as he plowed through Midwest League hitters. In 13 games, Leatherman posted a 2.45 earned run average, holding hitters to a .213 average. He also struck out better than a batter per inning, and really solidified his spot in the Snappers bullpen. He was a late inning specialist, notching four saves in five chances.

Leatherman also picked up some hardware along the way, as he was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Week for the week ending July 8.He was also named the Twins Player of the Month for the month of July, appearing in nine games, while posting a 0.36 earned run average. In 24 innings, Leatherman struck out 23 batters, while walking only four.

Repertoire.Fastball, Curveball, Changeup

Fastball. Leatherman's fastball was the thing that really opened up the scouts' eyes during his open tryout, and eventually landed him a contract in professional baseball. He was able to stay consistently in the mid-to-high 80s, and he even topped out at 89 miles per hour. One thing he also showed is an ability to spot the fastball well, making him a good relief pitching choice for the organization to pick up. The fastball also has some deception on it, making it hard for batters to locate his arm slot.

Other Pitches: Leatherman has a three-pitch arsenal, and Twins scouts are really impressed with how much control he has over his changeup, and his curveball. His changeup could wind up being his out-pitch, due to the fact that he really knows how to locate it. His collegiate coach said that he has great command of his breaking ball, and was the pitch he would often rely on during his college years. If he can crack one or two more notches out of his fastball, he should develop quite nicely.

Pitching. One word that always comes up when I mention Dan Leatherman's name to scouts is "polished". He is a kid who has a lot of confidence in his pitches, and he commands respect when he toes the rubber. As a guy who was given a contract at an open tryout, Leatherman felt like he belonged in professional baseball, and he showed great prowess on the mound. With three pitches that he has total confidence in, Leatherman is a hard guy to figure out, and he has the ability to throw any of his pitches in any situation for a stike. This is what makes him so valuable coming out of the bullpen, because you do not have to be afraid of him walking people. He is also a bulldog, who will pitch any amount of innings in any situation.

Projection. Leatherman is projected to be a relief pitcher, as he has shown the ability to be a solid reliever at both the collegiate and professional levels. While he is an innings eater, he is not suited for the starting rotation, and his three-pitch repertoire makes him a perfect fit for any bullpen. He just may be in the bullpen at Fort Myers to start the season, due to his recent experience in the Big East Conference, and his success in the Midwest League last season. If he continues to develop, he will be quite the pitcher in the Florida State League next season.

ETA. 2009. Leatherman could crack the Minnesota Twins roster during the 2009 season if he can continue to rise through the ranks like he did this past season. The Twins are excited about his ability to come out of the bullpen, and they are going to continue to challenge him at higher levels. He has succeed at mostly everything he has done in baseball, and with his confidence, he could be a guy that is in Rochester before you know it. I see him making his Major League debut in 2009, working out of the Twins bullpen.

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