Teammates helping Leake adjust to Majors

Teammates helping Leake adjust to Majors

PITTSBURGH -- Three members of the Reds' starting rotation are 24 years of age or younger. Right-hander Mike Leake is 22, right-hander Homer Bailey is 24 and righty Johnny Cueto is 24.

Leake led Arizona State to three consecutive Pac-10 titles with a 40-6 career record, including 16-1 with a 1.71 ERA his junior year, and the Reds made him their first pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, the eighth pick overall.

Leake is the 21st player to play in the Major Leagues with no Minor League experience since the Draft began in 1965.

"It's turning out pretty well," Leake said. "But these guys have made it easy for me, just making me feel comfortable and playing behind me so well."

He is a little surprised to be in the big leagues.

"I didn't think it was realistic," Leake said. "In my mind I thought it was, but being realistic, as far as a decision sampling for whoever decided, I didn't think so, but I had the confidence that I could."

That confidence has translated well at the Major League level. In six starts, he's 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA, easily the Reds' most consistent pitcher this season. He's also hitting .308.

Leake knows he is bucking the odds and realizes the potential pitfalls.

"Just facing more mature hitters and guys that have been in baseball for 30-plus years," Leake explained. "It's just knowing that their maturity level is so much beyond what I was usually going against."

Leake's recipe for success is keeping it simple.

"Just doing what I can," Leake offered. "Usually when you make your pitch you are going to do well. There's a reason that Greg Maddux did so well for so long, because he made his pitches when he needed to and they knew him like a book, too, but he still found a way to do his thing."

Reds manager Dusty Baker feels Leake has given the team a huge boost.

"It means a lot," Baker said. "To us and to him, he knows that he can pitch here and that's the number one thing that you have to fight when you get here. 'What is it going to be like in the big leagues and am I going to be successful,' plus, he's really ignited our team and guys like playing behind him because he works so fast. He's also gone deep in every game to give our bullpen at times a much-needed rest."

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.