Not Yet a National: Cole Leonida

2010 Elite Extra Edition

Cole Leonida was a big fish right out of the gates; in 2007, his senior year of high school at Grandview high in Colorado, he was named a Louisville Slugger High School All-American after leading his team to the Class 5A Centennial League baseball championship. He already had a scholarship from Georgia Tech waiting in the wings. His mission? Only to replace Matt Wieters by backing up incumbent Jason Haniger. Big shoes to fill.

Haniger was a pretty good player, though; he hit .329/.415/.638 in 52 games during Leonida’s freshman year, giving Cole 26 games, in which he hit only .145/.277/.291. It didn’t look like Leonida had long-term potential. Haniger was drafted by the Pirates in the 8th round in 2008, but he chose not to sign, returning to Tech for a .311/.388/.473 campaign after which he went undrafted. That has to suck.

Not the Greatest Idea ever.

Leonida got about the same amount of playing time as the previous year, but improved to .306/.407/.556. Not too bad, right? He was handed the starting job in 2010, and proceeded to hit .296/.370/.500 with 11 home runs in 62 games as the Jackets became a powerhouse yet again, but were eventually eliminated from the playoffs. Just a few days later, the Nationals picked Leonida as the first pick of the sixth round. He was happy about it:

I’m really excited about it, because they’re a team that’s definitely going in the right direction. They’ve had, obviously, a good draft the last two years and they’ve got a lot of young talent. It’s also an organization where I could possibly move quickly because they don’t have a franchise catcher like (Jason) Varitek sitting in Boston for all those years. They’re still kind of on the up-and-up. It’s just a real good situation all the way around, and I’ve heard it’s a real good organization, so I can’t complain. I’m ecstatic.

2010 Topps Debut

Cole didn’t exactly get off to a stellar start in the system, though, hitting .146/.241/.184 with Vermont. He has loads of time, though, and I think his reputation is more as a defensive catcher than a hitter, so who knows? He may still make it. Only time will tell.

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