Atlanta Braves Top 30 Prospects: No. 27, Joe Leonard

27. Joe Leonard, 3B
B/T: R/R 2011 Age: 23 Ht: 6'5" Wt: 215
2010 (Rk)
: 39 PA, .278/.333/.417, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K
(A-): 120 PA, .268/.303/.446, 7 2B, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 6 BB, 22 K

The Braves selected Joe Leonard in the third round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Pittsburgh. At Pitt, Leonard never showed much power until his final year, when he posted a .663 SLG. Despite this, it was not surprising when there was a lack of power from Leonard in his pro debut.

 

Leonard only appeared in 10 games at Danville before moving to A- ball at Rome, where he received 120 plate appearances. His power increased to a respectable .446 SLG and .179 ISO, but the better competition showed in the small sample size as he saw a spike in strikeouts compared to what he is used to. Going by his college numbers, Leonard has never posted great walk rates compared to strikeouts, so there is no reason to believe what he did at Rome in 120 plate appearances will change much over a full season. Because of this, I am skeptical.

 

Leonard is a big third baseman with a body that projects power, but a short, level swing eliminates the power potential. He shoots gaps and shows zero leverage on pitches. If he isn't able to lift the ball more, he will struggle to produce at the higher levels. Hitters at a "power position" that are not able to produce power absolutely must rely on well above average plate discipline and a lot of walks, and Leonard has yet to prove he is capable of doing so.

 

Leonard's defense is that of an experienced college player. He has a good arm and shows good motions at third. Defense will probably always be his strongest suit.

 

Leonard will either have to gain leverage and develop power, or he will need to develop a serious eye at the plate. The former is the more reasonable way of development at his age. Coming out of college and playing most of 2011 at the age of 22, he will continue to move up the ladder as long as the OBP remains respectable.

 

Three Things to Look For in 2011: 1) Power 2) Zone Discipline 3) Walks

Destination in 2011: Majority at A+; could see small sample at AA

ETA: 2013

Ceiling: Average Starting 3B in Majors

My Prediction: Reserve 3B in Majors

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