Leonard slashed .268/.327/.408 with 12 home runs, 70 RBI and 15 stolen bases during 131 games with Triple-A Durham in the Rays' system last year, and was named MVP of the Bulls' season following the conclusion of his campaign. The 25-year-old has yet to play in a major-league game during his career, but could get a chance with the White Sox in 2018.
Leonard, who's slashed .277/.337/.414 with 11 home runs and 66 RBI over 122 games for Triple-A Durham, was named the Bulls' team MVP for the 2017 campaign, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The 24-year-old proved he could handle Triple-A pitching after having hit just .198 over 42 games in his initial exposure back in 2016. Leonard has compiled an impressive 41 extra-base hits and swiped a career-high 15 bases this season. Evan Longoria continues to serve as an impediment for the third baseman's ascension to the big-league level, however, so Leonard is likely to begin next season with Durham barring unforeseen developments.
Leonard enjoyed a spectacular opening month of the season, slashing .412/.474/.553 with six doubles, two homers, 17 RBI and 17 runs with the Bulls. The 24-year-old's progress thus far at the plate has been eye-opening, considering he generated a .198/.276/.252 line over 42 games with Durham in 2016. While the hot corner remains firmly in Evan Longoria's possession at the big-league level for the time being, sustained improvement from Leonard would naturally be a highly encouraging development for the Rays. He's gotten May off on the right foot as well, already hitting .300 (6-for-20) over the first four games of the new month.
Leonard went 1-for-2 with a two-run home run in Thursday's 10-8 Grapefruit League loss to the Pirates.
Leonard has made reasonable progress through the Rays system over the past three seasons after arriving in a December 2013 trade with the Royals. He did encounter some rough sledding in his first brush with Triple-A pitching last season, slashing .198/.276/.252 at Durham over 145 plate appearances. The 24-year-old third baseman is slashing .235/.235/.588 with three doubles, Thursday's homer, three RBI and four runs overall in 17 at-bats, displaying some of the pop that's led to solid extra-base hit production at the minor league level. Leonard will kick off the 2017 campaign with a fresh start at Triple-A Durham and could be summoned back up at some point during the regular season as the Rays attempt to evaluate his viability as a possible successor to Evan Longoria at the hot corner.
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