Leatherman A True Gamer

Since he was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2006, Dan Leatherman has turned into one of the better relief pitching prospects in the Twins organization. On Monday, the young right-hander sat down with TwinCitiesDugout.com, and gave us some insight on what makes him tick.

When the Twins signed Dan Leatherman as a non-drafted free agent last year, not many people outside of the Twins brass knew who the right-handed pitcher was. After a successful career in college, Leatherman went undrafted, but went to an open tryout in hopes of gaining someone's attention. Attention he gained, as the Twins signed the right-hander on June 23, 2006.

It did not take Leatherman long to make his appearance felt in the Minor Leagues, as he garnered honors in his first season with the Twins. Leatherman spent only three games with the Gulf Coast League Twins before being promoted to Elizabethton, where he started to make his mark in the organization.

For the Elizabethton Twins, Leatherman garnered Twins Minor League Player of the Month for the month of July, going 4-0 with a 0.36 earned run average.

The righty struck out 23 batters in 24 innings of work, walking four, and held the opposition to a .148 batting average.

He would be promoted once again during his first season, as the Twins sent him to Beloit, and the budding prospect did not disappoint. He appeared in 13 games for Beloit, posting a 2.45 earned run average, and also struck out better than a batter per inning. During his time in the Midwest League, Leatherman held the opposition to a .213 batting average, and saved four games.

This season, Leatherman has been one of the better relief pitchers in the Midwest League, and it is something he feels comes from being prepared.

" I usually make sure that my arm is loose and I am mentally focused," Leatherman told TwinCitiesDugout.com. "I have a little bit of a game plan for when I am about to go into the game."

Being a member of the Beloit Snappers this season, Leatherman has been in the bullpen watching some of the better pitching prospects in the Twins organization. Coming in and helping out the team when a pitcher does well is something that Leatherman feels can be a blessing, or it could be something that can be hard.

" Coming in after a pitcher does a good job and has a great outing can be tough sometimes, but easy other times," Leatherman explained. "So it all depends on the team you are playing and how the game is going that particular day."

However, a relief pitcher's season can rest on the fact that the starting staff is doing well, but it can also make things hard when things aren't going as planned in the starting rotation.

" When your starters are having a rough week or two it can be stressful on the relievers because the starters get five days in between starts whether or not they do well and we sometimes never get breaks," Leatherman said. "It can most definitely get tiring on your arm."

Still, coming into the game with the outcome in the balance is something that Leatherman thrives on. Also, he is one of the better players in the organization when it comes to nailing down victories, so it is never a surprise when he comes in during crucial moments of the game.

" Those are the best games to come into. The crowd is fired up whether you are playing at home or away. The best feeling in the world is playing at our home field and striking the last batter out looking to end the game," Leatherman said. "I am a gamer and I have always been that way. I may joke around in the bullpen and have a good time, but when its time to go into the game I am serious and ready to get a job done."

And so it goes for Dan Leatherman, who saw his professional life change only 14 months ago. Now a proud father of a new baby, Leatherman has his future ahead of him, and if the beginning of his professional baseball career is any indication, the future looks bright. The next step will be the Fort Myers Miracle, and it is a step that Leatherman is ready to take.

" I believe that I could succeed at many levels but I guess we'll have to see when I get there. I am a very confident person and can't wait until I can get there and start working towards New Britian," Leatherman explained. "My dad always told me that a baseball players career is a set of about one hundred stairs in which every level you move up is a few stairs. So basically right now I am on stair sixty five and still have a long way to go."

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