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Cubs Prospect Perspective: Zachary Leigh

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He’s a low-round draft pick who got all the way to South Bend last year.

Kirby Crumpler

Zachary Leigh

Right-handed pitcher. Born November 14, 1997. Kingwood, Texas
Cubs draft pick (16th Round), Texas State University (San Marcos).

If you’ve read a few of these, you know my default. Whether a player in the MLB DFA portal or a recent acquisition by the Cubs in any form or fashion, a new or somewhat unfamiliar name leads to a sprint to Baseball Reference. When I heard the Cubs selected Leigh, I looked, and... I didn’t expect that. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that.

Texas State plays in the Sun Belt Conference, a reasonably top-heavy baseball league. Alas, Texas State isn’t normally atop the Sun Belt, and pitchers like Leigh have some good offenses to face in good hitting weather. Leigh’s baseball card stats in 2021 were not what you would textbook draw up. Two thoughts came to mind as I saw his numbers. Why? If I’m wrong, what am I missing? An ERA over five in his draft year was a bit of information I was having a hard time sorting through. Before I could be good with my assessment, I’d have to walk through realistic answers to both questions.

23 of Leigh’s last 24 college appearances were starts. Texas State doesn’t have seven guys that are “middle minors starting pitcher” arms. Leigh was as reliable as they had. He was fantastic in his four 2020 starts. College baseball is about college baseball. Amateur scouting is about seeing what is, and fashioning from that, what could be. A college starter, Leigh appeared in five pro games after signing. None were as a starter.

Aaaaaah, I see. Who he was in college, by default, wasn’t who he’d be as a professional. It didn’t take long for both questions to be answered. After a two appearance cameo in Mesa, Leigh was promoted to Low-A Myrtl... I mean, Advanced-A South Bend.

Really?

In five innings, Leigh fanned eight in High-A. I see.

The walks (three in five innings) are somewhat problematic if predictive, but for a low-five figure signing bonus, I’m more than willing to see what the future holds for this former Bobcat.