Q&A: A look into the life of Leasure

April 12th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin's White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- It took two or three appearances to become a trusted late-inning leverage arm for the White Sox bullpen.

But the focus of this talk with the rookie right-hander has less to do with his four scoreless appearances to date and more about the overall big picture that is the start of his career. Here’s my recent question-and-answer session with Leasure, Chicago’s No. 16 prospect per MLB Pipeline, who joined the White Sox with right-hander Nick Nastrini in a 2023 Trade Deadline deal that sent Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly to the Dodgers.

Merkin: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned in the two weeks you’ve been in the Majors?

Leasure: There’s a lot. The food, the travel. It’s definitely an adjustment, but I feel like I’m getting used to it now. Especially with all the guys around me making it easier. Just the food and the travel have been a big adjustment.

Merkin: How so, exactly?

Leasure: Better hotels, flying obviously. And then pretty much everything is taken care of for you. The food is better, too.

Merkin: This is your job, of course. But you are having an immense amount of fun.

Leasure: Yeah, yeah. It doesn’t feel like a job (laughs).

Merkin: What’s the biggest source of fun that stands out to date?

Leasure: Just being here. It still doesn’t really feel real yet. But yeah, just having fun, getting to know all the guys. Playing a kid’s game.

In the Minor Leagues, it feels a little bit different, because up until now, you are working to get to this point. Now you are here, and it’s like, ‘All right, I can relax and have fun and enjoy what I get to do every day.’

Merkin: Now you have to work to stay.

Leasure: You don’t want to get sent back down.

Merkin: Your first appearance came on March 30 against the Tigers. What went through your mind before throwing that first pitch?

Leasure: I don’t remember a whole lot. I just remember before I was thinking, ‘Throw it as hard as I can in the strike zone. I don’t want my first pitch to be a ball.’ It was a strike.

Merkin: You’ve talked before about wanting to hit 100 mph with your fastball at some point.

Leasure: Still working toward that (smiles). I don’t think I’ve gotten close yet this season. (Per Statcast, Leasure’s fastball has averaged 96.1 mph but has hit as high as 99 mph.)

Merkin: You’ve also become a better pitcher overall since joining the White Sox.

Leasure: Yeah, for sure. A little bit more mature. Knowing what I’m doing with all my pitches, and then adding a curve ball obviously helps. Hopefully [I’ll] keep building up the velo and keep getting better.

Merkin: What was the first thing you did after the big league debut?

Leasure: I had a couple of friends in town, guys I played with in college. Right after the game, I saw them, and they all hung out and we got dinner. It was pretty fun.