These “exit interviews” will be going over the entire 40-man roster and looking to see how each player does or does not fit into the White Sox future.
The term “exit interview” is usually used when an employee is leaving the company. I took that into consideration…and kept it.
Charlie Leesman – Potential LOOGY/walk-addled reliever
Age by 2014 Opening Day: 27
Contract: Less than a single year of service time accumulated. League minimum salary and really sweet health insurance.
Relevant stats: MLB: Eight games (one start), 15.1 IP, 16 H, 7.04 ERA, 2 HR, 13 K, 16 BB, 0.81 K/BB, 62 ERA+
Triple-A: 16 games (all starts), 88.1 IP, 90 H, 3.87 ERA, 11 HR, 78 K, 41 BB, 1.90 K/BB
Interpretation: Couldn’t throw strikes at the major league level, throwing his minor league success into harsher relief.
Emblematic split: As a reliever, Leesman walked more than one in every five hitters he faced.
Pre-season expectations: In his clearly displeased reaction to Leesman being put on waivers in April, Nick provided this summary of a player he thought had some value that was going ignored.
“Leesman looks like he’s ready to be a competent reliever, or at least, worth a shot above some of the dregs of guys floating around in the majors. He’s a big lefty who keeps the ball on the ground, and has maintained a pretty ERA at AAA for over 100 innings.”
Quote of the year: “”I couldn’t wait to get back out and forget about it even more.”
That’s the spirit!
Seriously, that is the spirit.
Charlie’s story: This year was quite the shining success for Leesman provided it’s remembered that it began with him rehabbing the ACL he tore in the Triple-A playoffs in 2012. He was still working his way back from the injury when he was placed on waivers in April to clear a roster spot. Leesman’s path back to the White Sox smacked of intention. He was claimed by the Rangers, but refused his assignment to Triple-A Round Rock and signed again with the Sox when he was granted free agency.
When he finally started making starts for Charlotte again, control was a problem early on (eight walks in 15 innings in his first three outings) and lingered on for the rest of the year. Big downward plane from the left side generated the typical Leesman groundball results enough to convince management that the same guy who had been toiling his way through the system for years was present and available. 31 walks in 72.2 innings at the time of his initial call-up provided a clue on his future struggles.
A spot start against a rundown Twins lineup served as Leesman’s major league debut and saw him lean heavily on a loopy slurve that wasn’t described as his primary weapon in minor league scouting reports. In five innings marred only by a solo shot, Leesman’s slurve showed a surprising amount of swing-and-miss potential (nine strikeouts) and appeared to be out of his command two of every three throws (five walks).
When Leesman returned in September, spot starts were being meted out to Erik Johnson instead, and he did not prove amenable to the “….Go!” (Leesman’s description) nature of being a reliever. His control collapsed for three walks in a row at the end of a long relief appearance in Boston, and a disastrous weekend against Cleveland that saw him walk six in two innings spelled the end of any decent looks and opportunities for Leesman. He was left with just two innings over the last 14 games of the season and served as an example of the walk problems Don Cooper railed about at the close of the year.
It was a year of incredible milestones and breakthroughs for Leesman, but also of questionable performance. His Triple-A peripherals looked iffy and bad Triple-A defense obscures how many of the 12 unearned runs he allowed in the minors are his fault.
Assessment: Leesman is finally on the radar for a major league roster spot, but attracted attention in a very negative way upon his call-up. A very strong Spring or some more outrights will be required for Leesman to force his way back into the Opening Day 25-man picture.
His arsenal suggests he should be plenty capable of LOOGY work at the least,which would lessen the reliance on Donnie Veal or eliminate the reliance on David Purcey. But the control problems and Leesman becoming comfortable with working in a relief format are big hurdles to clear, provided the Sox even want Leesman for the bullpen. He’s been focused on starting for this long, another year masquerading as starter depth is not out of the question.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan