Frisco, Texas —— Texas Rangers right-handed pitcher Jose Leclerc is now back in the big league bullpen again after going through a two-game minor league rehab assignment late last week with the Frisco RoughRiders of the Double-A Texas League.
Baseball Census was in Frisco during Leclerc’s rehab work, and we’ve got video below of the Texas Rangers’ right-hander throwing a scoreless inning against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, as well as a full Jose Leclerc scouting report covering what to expect of the 23-year-old now that he’s back again in the big leagues. (On June 3, he threw a scoreless inning against the Astros in his return to the American League West.)
Jose Leclerc Scouting Report — Video
Here’s our video of Texas Rangers RHP Jose Leclerc throwing in one of his rehab games for the RoughRiders against Northwest Arkansas:
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Jose Leclerc Scouting Report — GIFs
And for those interested, here’s our shareable GIF set of Jose Leclerc throwing in that same rehab appearance on May 30:
Jose Leclerc Scouting Report — Rehab Outing
Originally shuffled off to the disabled list because of a bruised finger, Jose Leclerc looked free and easy in his final rehab stint with the RoughRiders on March 30. In his scoreless inning of work (with three strikeouts on 18 pitches), the righty sat 90-95 mph, topping out at 96 mph. He backed it up with several offspeed pitches, too—all of which got a nice long look in his rehab outing, no doubt in a bid to work through the rust of being on the DL for a few weeks.
Leclerc’s curve might have been his best (if not most consistent) offering during his rehab appearances, with the pitch clocking in at 79-81 mph and Leclerc showing great arm action to help sell the pitch and keep hitters off balance. Aside from the curveball, Jose Leclerc flashed both a slider (85-87 mph with very late, hard, sharp cut) and a changeup (77-80 mph, worked well against lefties with some arm-side run while tumbling). He has some natural deception complete with a slow windup, and it looks like everything he throws moves naturally — never a bad sign. He’s aggressive in the strike zone, and while his command isn’t as refined as his control, he has a deep enough repertoire that he ought to be able to mostly get away with that so long as he generally keeps the ball down.
Regarding that more specific lack of command in Frisco, time and again Jose Leclerc pull off hard to first base upon releasing the ball and give a few of his pitches an almost cutter-like action that proved hard to pinpoint when needed. (For the opposite side of this tale, we’ve already seen what happens when a pitcher allows himself to stay in line.) Maybe the cut-like fastball is a new pitch by design for Leclerc but whether or not it is, he’ll have to throw more strikes to survive in the Texas Rangers’ bullpen the rest of the summer.
It sounds like the Texas Rangers are going to really test the youngster now that he’s healthy again, which figures to be a big load of responsibility on the shoulders of a very young reliever. But mentality and aggressiveness are working in the pitcher’s favor here; Jose Leclerc falls short of having the legitimate plus stuff to close one day in the big leagues, but he’s got the chops and aggressiveness, and just enough velocity, to take on the world of a set-up man and miss some bats with his wide arsenal.