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Mike Leake

Mike Leake
Cincinnati Reds – No. 44
Starting pitcher
Born: (1987-11-12) November 12, 1987 (age 26)
San Diego, California
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
April 11, 2010 for the Cincinnati Reds
Career statistics
(through 2013 season)
Win-loss record 42–29
Earned run average 3.99
Strikeouts 447

Mike Leake
Medal record
Men's baseball
Competitor for  United States
World University Championship
Gold 2008 Brno National team

Michael Raymond Leake (born November 12, 1987), is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball. Leake is the first player since Xavier Nady, when he was with the San Diego Padres in 2000, to go directly from the draft to the major leagues,[1] and is the first starting pitcher to accomplish the feat since left-hander, Jim Abbott, of the California Angels in 1989.[2] He also was the first Cincinnati Red to do so since the abolition of the Bonus Rule after the 1965 season (shortstop Bobby Henrich, pitcher Jay Hook, and catcher Don Pavletich, who did so in 1957, all were "Bonus Babies").[1]

Early years

Personal life

Leake was born in San Diego, California, and grew up in Valley Center, California, the son of Chris and Sarah Leake. Both his brother and his father call him Mikey.[3] Leake grew up as a Seattle Mariners fan and idolized Vladimir Guerrero and Nolan Ryan among others.[4] He started playing baseball at age 5 by tagging along with his older brother everywhere - to the point where Ryan complained about Mike to his parents. Chris and Sarah Leake convinced Ryan to put up with Mike and teach him how to carry himself both on and off the field.[3]

Leake is listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, in the Reds' media guide, but he himself admits that he is actually about 5-foot-10, 175 pounds.[3]

High School

Leake attended Valley Center High School his freshman and sophomore years where he started on the varsity baseball team. Leake transferred to Fallbrook High School, where he lettered in baseball two years and was co-team captain for the baseball team his senior season. In the four years he attended the school his team won the league title three times; he graduated in 2006.[4]

During his junior year, Leake batted .431 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI while compiling a 9–3 record with a 1.87 ERA. The next year he batted .342 with 8 home runs and went 11–1 with an identical 1.87 ERA. His pitching performances those years helped him win the Avocado League Pitcher of the Year twice.[4]

Leake was a two-time All-Avocado League honoree; he was twice named to both the First Team and Second Team. He was named the team MVP his sophomore year, and was selected to the First Team All-CIF his junior and senior years. He was on the First Team All State those two years as well. Additionally, Leake won the Avocado League's Cy Young Award twice, was selected to the First Team All-Academic Team twice, and earned the Fallbrook High School Principal's Award twice.[4]

College career

After graduating from high school, Leake attended Arizona State University, where he majored in management.[5]


Leake began his season as the closer for Arizona State, but soon became a starter. Over the course of the year, Leake had a 13–2 record with a save and a 3.69 ERA in his 25 appearances, 13 of which were starts. His 13 wins, the third most in Arizona State history by a freshman, tied him with his teammate, Josh Satow, for the Pac-10 lead. Leake also set the Arizona State freshman record with 127 innings pitched and 94 strikeouts. Those were the sixth-most and ninth-most in the Pac-10 that year.

He was named to the First Team All-Pac-10. Collegiate Baseball Newspaper named Leake a Third Team All-American and a First Team Freshman All-American. Additionally, Leake was named to the All-Houston College Classic tournament team and the All-Coca-Cola Classic Team. He was also voted the Most Outstanding Player of the Tempe Regional.


Continuing where he left off at the end of his freshman year, Leake had an 11–3 record with a save and a 3.49 ERA in his 19 appearances, 16 of which were starts. Having totaled 24 career victories through this point in his collegiate career, Leake became one of only nine Sun Devils to reach 20 career wins. He also was one of only three Sun Devils to have done so by their sophomore year. He also batted .340 with 2 homers and 11 RBI in 47 at-bats while playing first base, second base, shortstop, left field, center field, and right field. He hit his first career home run against UCLA on May 4, 2008.

Leake led the Pac-10 with 121.1 innings pitched and was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year. He was also named First Team All-Pac-10 and Second Team All-America by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. However, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named him Third Team All-America. Leake was also selected to the Second Team All-West Region by the American Baseball Coaches Association and was a semifinalist for the Roger Clemens Award, given to top NCAA Division I college baseball pitcher of the year. He was also selected to the All-Tempe Regional Team and the First Team Academic All-Pac-10. ESPN The Magazine made the sophomore an Academic All-District VII selection.

That summer Leake played for the USA Collegiate National Team. The team won gold medals at the Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands and the World University Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic. In those tournaments Leake appeared 8 times and had a 3–0 record with a 0.64 ERA. He also hit .236 with a homer and 8 RBI in 55 at-bats.


Leake turned in one of the greatest individual seasons in Sun Devil history during his junior year. He went 16–1 with a 1.71 ERA, 142 innings pitched, and 162 strikeouts, limiting batters to a .193 average, the second lowest in the Pac-10. He threw seven complete games, including back-to-back shutouts, and compiled 26 straight scoreless innings at one point. His 40 career wins tied him for the third most in school history by a three-year pitcher. Leake joined Eddie Bane as one of only two Arizona State pitchers to win 10 or more games for three straight seasons, and Raoul Torrez as one of only two to win three straight Pac-10 titles.

For the second straight season Leake won the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Award, becoming the first back-to-back winner and the fourth two-time winner of the award. Also for the second year, he was named First Team Academic Pac-10, Most Outstanding Player of the Tempe Regional, and Academic All-District VIII by ESPN The Magazine. He won the National Pitcher of the Week award twice and the Pac-10 pitcher of the Week four times. At the end of the season Leake was named National Player of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association and became a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the best amateur baseball player, the Dick Howser Trophy, presented by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association to the national college baseball player of the year, and the National Pitcher of the Year award. He was also named the Academic All-American of the Year and was a unanimous First Team All-American.[4]

Professional career


Leake was drafted out of high school in 2006 by the Oakland Athletics in the seventh round (218th overall), but chose instead to attend college. The Cincinnati Reds re-drafted him eighth overall in the 2009 draft, which Leake accepted. He received a $2.3 million signing bonus and was signed to a $400,000 contract.[6]

He played for the Peoria (Arizona) Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League and had a strong spring as a non-roster invitee, winning the Arizona Fall League Rising Star Award.[7] He competed for the Reds' fifth starter spot and ultimately won a spot on the Reds' twenty-five man roster amid competition from veterans Mike Lincoln, Justin Lehr, and Micah Owings and young pitchers Travis Wood and Aroldis Chapman.[8] Leake's contract was purchased on April 11, 2010. To make room for him, the Reds optioned Juan Francisco to the Louisville Bats, the Reds AAA minor league affiliate. They also designated Pedro Viola for assignment.[9]

Leake made his major league debut on April 11, 2010, in a 3–1 victory against the Chicago Cubs.[10] After loading the bases with no one out in the first inning, a very shaky start to his career, he recovered by forcing Aramis Ramírez to pop out. He then struck out Marlon Byrd and got Alfonso Soriano to fly out. After 6 innings, Leake exited having given up 4 hits and just one earned run. He also contributed two hits of his own. He later was quoted as saying "I always thought I could do it [skip the minor leagues] even if nobody else did. I just have some weird inner confidence that gets me going."

On May 15, 2010, Leake pitched 6 innings and allowed 2 runs against the St. Louis Cardinals to earn his fourth career win.[11] With a career record of 4–0 at that point, he became the first Reds rookie starting pitcher to open 4–0 since Pat Zachry and Santo Alcala did so in 1976.[12]

Leake became the first rookie pitcher in Reds' history to remain undefeated after his 10th start by throwing six innings of shutout ball and allowing just seven hits on May 30, 2010, against the Houston Astros.[13][14]

On June 5, 2010, against the Washington Nationals, Leake threw seven innings to notch his fifth victory, giving up one unearned run in the process. Leake allowed seven hits during the performance, issued no walks, and struck out 5 batters. All the hits, with the exception of the double by Nyjer Morgan, were singles. Additionally, Leake had two hits and scored a run in the Reds' 5–1 win.[15] With this win, Leake moved to 5–0 in his career and joined Santo Alcala as the only rookies in Reds history to begin their careers with that record.[12]

Leake began to suffer from shoulder fatigue as the season progressed, and he was eventually put on the disabled list (DL). He did come off the DL in mid-September and joined the Reds as part of expanded rosters, but never pitched. Leake did throw a bullpen session late in the month, but was determined to be not ready for pitching in the post season and effectively "shut down" once again. He did see action as a pinch-runner and pinch-hitter in the month after showing his hitting ability during the season.


Entering spring training, Leake was considered the sixth man in the rotation, and faced starting the season in the minor leagues. However, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey both went on the DL, and Leake made the rotation out of spring. He won his first two decisions, posting a 5.40 ERA. Leake was optioned to triple-A for the first time in his career on May 14 to make room for reliever José Arredondo to come of the DL. Arredondo's rehab assignment had reached the maximum 30 days, he had pitched well, and was out of options.[16] Leake was called back up on May 28 and started against the Braves, earning the win and pitching six innings of one-run ball.[17]


On May 21, 2012, Leake hit the first home run of his career, off Mike Minor of the Atlanta Braves in the fourth inning of a game at Great American Ball Park. On June 29, 2012 Leake threw his first complete game against the San Francisco Giants in a 5-0 victory.


On April 18, 2011, Leake was arrested by the Cincinnati Police for shoplifting six American Rag T-shirts worth $59.88 from the Macy's store in downtown Cincinnati. He was charged with theft, a misdemeanor in the State of Ohio that carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail if convicted. Leake has no known prior convictions.[18] The arrest and following comments hurt Leake's public image. He told the arresting officer his place of employment was "Reds Stadium", not Great American Ball Park. Leake, who happened to have purchased an equal value of shirts earlier from Macy's, claimed he was trying to make an even exchange without talking to employees or going to customer service.[19] Leake pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of unauthorized use of property and entered a court-sponsored diversion program. He was required to complete 30 hours of community service and counseling, upon which his case will be dismissed. Leake apologized and called his mistake "a boneheaded move".[20]


Leake throws a four-seam fastball with natural cutting movement that averages 88 MPH, a curveball, a changeup with an average speed of 81 MPH, a cutter, and a hard, down-breaking slider.[21]

See also

Biography portal
Baseball portal
  • List of baseball players who went directly to the major leagues


External links

  • Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Minors)
  • Twitter

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