When baseball fans hear the name Leyland, they automatically think of Jim Leyland, former manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Detroit Tigers. However, for Clinton Lumberkings fans, they imagine Pat Leyland, the 6’2″ player that holds things down at first base and for Pat, that’s the way he wants it.
Leyland grew up in the Pittsburgh area and started playing baseball when he was five years old. Growing up, he played travel ball and went to tournaments around the East Coast, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. He continued his path to professional baseball after being drafted in the eighth round of the 2010 MLB draft out of Bishop Canevin High School.
“That day felt so short but I was nervous. I kept trying to find ways to pass the time and to not think about it,” Leyland said. “I was with my mom and I was relieved. I was excited to get my start with the Detroit Tigers organization.”
Leyland was assigned to the GCL Tigers where he played in 41 games posting a .219 batting average with 12 RBIs. He spent 2011 with Connecticut before being promoted to Class-A West Michigan in 2012. He primarily spent most of his time behind the plate but injuries slowed his progress through the minors.
“I had my second shoulder surgery in 2012 that I worked hard to recover from but I never got back to where I was as a catcher after that,” Leyland said. “I transitioned to first base and started playing there more and more.”
He had a healthy 2013 split between Connecticut and High-A Lakeland before a freak injury sidelined his start to 2014 with West Michigan.
“I slipped on a patch of ice in my driveway and broke my right ankle,” Leyland said. “It was disappointing because I thought 2013 went well and I had worked had to get back in shape.”
Leyland made his first rehab start of the 2014 season in May with the Whitecaps. Over the course of 36 games with the club, he was batting .140 with 9 RBIs. At the end of the season, the Tigers released him. However, another club decided to give Leyland another chance.
“The Tigers released me in October. I was disappointed but I enjoyed my time in their organization. It was a great atmosphere and I had fun learning from them and growing as a player,” Leyland said. “The Mariners signed me in late November and I was thrilled to have another opportunity.”
That opportunity is one that Leyland has been taking advantage of posting solid numbers for the Clinton Lumberkings this season including a career high .285 batting average with 21 RBIs. He said he tries not to look too far ahead but to just produce as best he can for his team.
“I’m hoping to help my team win more games and just become a better player,” Leyland said. “I know I’m playing for a job and am fortunate to have been given a second chance. I’m thrilled for the opportunity and want to leave a good impression.”