Ian Leatherman selected by Tampa Bay Rays in 16th round of MLB Draft

Jenison sophomore Ian Leatherman tosses the ball towards home, Sunday, May 9.

The Tampa Bay Rays selected Central Michigan right-handed pitcher Ian Leatherman with the 491st pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. Leatherman is the first Chippewa selected in the draft. 

Leatherman will forgo his remaining years of eligibility and sign with the Rays according to a report from Zach Harig of Fox 17.  

A native of Jenison, Leatherman pitched in 17 games, three of which were starts, as a true freshman in 2019. He went 1-0 with a 6.85 ERA. In a five inning start against Concordia, Leatherman allowed just three hits and one run while striking out eight. 

Leatherman made six appearances during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season as a sophomore. Leatherman allowed three runs in his first appearance of the year but allowed just one across his final 10 innings of the season. Against Bucknell, in his final appearance of the season, Leatherman struck out the side. 

In 2021, Leatherman established himself as a rock-solid reliever. He threw 12 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings across seven appearances in the middle of the season. Leatherman struck out four in 1 2/3 innings during his final appearance of the regular season. 

Overall, Leatherman finished 2021 with a 3-2 record in 19 appearances and struck out 40 in 36 innings. 

The velocity on Leatherman’s fastball is what made him a popular prospect, according to a report from MLB.com. 

“Leatherman is the best 2021 prospect on a Central Michigan team that made a surprise trip to the South Bend regional finals,” the report reads. “He averages 93 mph with his fastball and touches 97 coming out of the bullpen. His low-80s slider is his no. 2 offering.” 

As a high schooler at Jenison High School, Leatherman was named first team all-state in 2017. He was twice named all-district and all-state. His brother, Pat Leatherman, is Central Michigan’s career leader in strikeouts. 

Leatherman is the first Chippewa selected since Zavier Warren was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2020.