The Cleveland Indians selected Florida pitcher Jack Leftwich with the 216th overall pick in the seventh round of the 2021 MLB Draft on Monday.
Leftwich’s college career was about as up and down as it gets. When he was on his game and had command of his mid-90s fastball, slider and changeup, he looked like one of the best pitchers in the country. When he was off, he was hard to watch.
He finished his career with a 20-14 record and a 4.25 earned run average. Opponents hit just .233 against him.
Leftwich tag-teamed with classmate, friend and fellow draftee Tommy Mace to guide the Gators to the College World Series as a freshman in 2018. He made 24 appearances, including 12 starts, and went 5-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 81 1/3 innings.
He started game three of the super regional against Auburn and gave up just one run on four hits in five innings. He then won a game against Texas Tech in Omaha by giving up just two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
He couldn’t build off of his strong close to the season, however. He missed three weeks in 2019 with a blister on his right hand, and, when he returned, his season imploded. His ERA ballooned to as high as 7.02 at one point before he lowered it to 5.31 at the end of the season.
In the abbreviated 2020 season, Leftwich turned in three good starts and one poor one en route to a 2-0 record and a 4.15 ERA.
He pitched well to start the 2021 season but was moved to the bullpen after he plunked six batters and couldn’t make it through the fifth inning at South Carolina. He didn’t respond well to the closer role at first, giving up six runs to Ole Miss and walking the only two batters he faced on eight pitches at Tennessee.
Other than one other poor outing against Auburn, he was terrific from that point forward. He finished the year 7-4 with a 3.36 ERA and five saves.
Leftwich will likely get another chance at starting in the minor leagues. His versatility and ability to be dominant will be missed at UF.