ASU’s Mike Leake skips the minors to get pro debut

Major League Baseball’s experiment with another Arizona State player has panned out.  Mike Leake debuted today with the Cincinnati Reds in a game against the Chicago Cubs.

But he took a shortcut few others have.

The 22-year-old right-hander became just the 21st player since the draft began in 1965 to get a major league start without playing in the minors.  He’s the third from ASU to make that claim, while no other college has sent more than one directly to the Bigs.

Leake was the eighth pick in the first round of the 2009 draft.  He was coming off a 16-1 season for the Sun Devils.

He got his first taste of pro ball in the Arizona Fall League, where he had a 1.37 ERA with 15 strike-outs.  In spring ball, he pitched in six games, striking out 10 and allowing 16 hits.  His ERA over those 19 innings was 3.00, which encouraged the Reds to name him their fifth starter going into the season.

He was a little shaky getting started against the Cub today, walking seven in a 106-pitch performance.  But he settled down and struck out five hitters, holding the Cubs to just one run in 6 2/3 innings.  He was credited with a no-decision in the 3-1 Reds’ victory.

There were 12 pitchers in that celebrated group of 21 college grads in 45 years to jump directly to the Majors.

Today, Leake became the tenth pitcher to get a starting gig.