A quick Chris Leroux breakdown

So one day after posting that he’d be bullpen help on the way, now here he is.

Chris Leroux was the Marlins 12th pick (9 pitcher) in the 2005 draft, being picked up in the 7th round.  During his senior year in college, he had to go through Tommy John Surgery, and the Marlins have been very careful with him since.  While the rule has since been lifted, the FO originally mandated a rule that he could not pitch unless he had two days rest.  And even with the rule lifted, he still does not go back-to-back often at all.  They’ve also have been very careful on calling him up between levels, and he’s constantly been old for his leagues.  Baseball America has been rating him in the late teen’s the past several years, sitting at 18 going into this season, and John Sickel’s had him rated 20th prior to 2009 and 15th for this season.

His repertoire is more or less what to expect out of a reliever: Fastball, Slider, and Change Up.  His fastball sits in the mid-90′s and while he does not have the best control of his change up, it should keep him from having a severe platoon split.  He boasts a K/9 of 9.14 and a BB/9 of 3.12 since becoming a reliever full time in 2007, just barely missing having a 3+ K/BB ratio.  Likely do to his tall frame (6’6), he gets a ton of ground balls: MinorLeagueSplits has his career FB% at 31.7% and StatCorner at 33.7%.

As stated above though, he’s constantly been old for his league so his stats aren’t as impressive.  Projecting pitchers statistics is a lot more difficult than with hitters, but if we assume something like a 7.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, and 0.9 HR/9 (33% FB rate with average HR/FB), that puts him at exactly a 4.00 FIP.  The average reliever normally sits in the 4-4.10 FIP range.  Absolutely nothing wrong with a young, club controlled average reliever.

CHONE is not as optimistic, having his K/9 at 6.68, BB/9 at 4.21, and HR/9 at 1.02.  That would put him at a 4.58 FIP, but I feel the strike out numbers are quite pessimistic.  ZIPs also asks for the same 4.58 FIP, but with more walks and less home runs.  Hopefully he doesn’t hit those projections, but it will be something we’ll see.

I feel another note is, why Leroux instead of Scott Strickland?  The answer is simple: Leroux is already on the 40 man roster.  On top of which, Brian Sanches should be back soon, which would push someone out of our bullpen.  By calling up Leroux instead of Strickland, that means when Sanches comes back, it’ll likely be Leroux that goes back down.  If we called up Strickland now instead, that means we’d have to either option Burke Badenhop or Tim Wood, or DFA one of the other 5 arms.  Leroux’s stay probably won’t last too long, but hopefully we’ll get some good out of him.

Topics: Chris Leroux, Miami Marlins

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  • fishmania

    I think some of this is fair, but also keep in mind that he was a catcher for his entire college years, only to turn pitcher after being drafted to florida. This would explain why “he is always older than the leagues he plays in,” in addition to Tommy John. His arm age as a pitcher is actually quite young.

    I also should point you to the fact that he had an impressive 2010 thus far: spring (only 1 run allowed over 5 IP) and AAA (2 games, no runs).

    He’ll be good. Better than a) starters playing reliever roles (which many often suggest on these loops for some odd reason) and b) old pitchers that are past their prime. Young, whether it be actual age or arm age, is best.

    • Michael Jong

      Fishmania,

      John’s got a good point, and I agree that since he wasn’t a pitcher for a long time, he’s got a better shot. I do want to quickly mention that it is pretty well documented that starters moving into relief roles lose about 1 run per 9 IP in their ERA/RA as part of the nature of pitching out of the pen. Doesn’t mean everyone will get better, but most will.

  • John Herold

    Fishmania,

    Very good points and is also why I think he’ll best his projections. Majority of time you see a 25 year old in AA, it’s because he isn’t good, and that’s a big part of why project systems are hard on age. This is a different case than normal.

    Another thing was that when he did pitch in college, he featured a curveball. The Marlins made him ditch the curveball (Fearing that’s what injured him) and start throwing a slider instead, so one of his important pitches is very young as well.

  • fishmania

    Well – 2 appearances now. Not too bad. Thoughts?