Jack Leftwich is the second of the strong-armed Florida right-handed pitches who should go high in the 2020 MLB Draft. Leftwich is one of those prototypical Gator righties who is tall and skinny, throws hard, has a hard breaking ball, and a quick windup. Leftwich has some room for development and refinement and a pro team might see a wide open canvas to start painting.
Leftwich starts on the first base side of the rubber and uses a quick windup. It isn’t lightning quick like Brady Singer’s was, but it is much faster than the normal pitcher. Leftwich also has a glove tap at the top right before he drives to the plate. It isn’t a big tap, but a small noticeable tap allowing him to sequence everything he needs to throw consistent strikes.
Leftwich has a no nonsense approach to pitching and attacks guys. He has a swagger on the mound and almost seems a combination of angry and arrogant when batters step into the box. That isn’t a bad combination. Leftwich uses the anger to motivate himself and the arrogance to show who is in charge. When half the game is 90 percent mental, he is going in the right direction.
Leftwich rocks and fires throwing his fastball between 93 and 97. He often works 95 to 96 and dares hitters to put it in play. Leftwich throws downhill creating sink. When he works down and away and is bumping 97, it’s hard not to hit a ground ball somewhere. Once Leftwich is ahead of a hitter and has him looking at the fastball down and away, he’ll elevate the pitch and it will bore right through the top of the zone while the hitter swings and misses because he is late and unable to get on plane.
Leftwich also throws a change up that has is a very strong compliment to his fastball. The pitch appears to come out of the same tunnel and is consistently 10 miles per hour slower than his fastball creating the perfect deception. The pitch runs away from a left-handed hitter. As one announcer put it this year, “the pitch seems to stop just before it gets to the strike zone and the hitter swings ahead of it.”
Leftwich throws a breaking ball that is often called a slider by announcers but looks more like a curveball. The pitch has a big 11 to 5 break from a catcher’s perspective. The pitch is much slower than you would expect a slider from Leftwich to be thrown 78 to 81. Leftwich does a really good job throwing it backdoor to a lefty and running it away from a righty. Sometimes it will hang as he doesn’t spin it hard enough but generally it is a really strong pitch.
Leftwich is a strong Day Two candidate for a team and will be a good option to run out there as a starter in the minors. Once he gets to the higher levels, he will have to prove he can get hitters out consistently. In 2020, he showed that he had no problems doing that but it was a question mark coming into the spring. A team can expect Leftwich to be competitive for them giving them 5.0 solid innings day in and day out. Even if Leftwich doesn’t make it as a starter, he has a power arm and will be a viable option out of the pen. The top result for Leftwich will be a middle of the rotation guy. Lower end results will be a middle reliever who can possibly handle big pressure moments. Leftwich seems to be a pretty safe bet to pitch in the big leagues at some point.
We know the Royals scout Florida and the SEC. This is a guy that would be a good fit if he is available at 41. With the amount of talented college pitchers, he could even be there at 76. Mace and Leftwich aren’t quite the duo that Singer and Kowar are, but they would look good trading in their Gator-blue for Royal-blue.
With only a week until draft day, make sure you check out the other names we’ve looked at in the 2020 MLB Draft Profile library!
Image from the Florida Gators Athletics website. No photographer was given credit.