Leslie shows new look in blowout

A group of pro-baseball scouts from various teams stood together Tuesday and watched the USF baseball team beat Jacksonville 15-4. But as they talked, spat and cursed, they got a chance to see a guy they’ve all seen or heard about before do something they hadn’t seen him do.

Leading 14-4 in the 8th inning, the Bulls gave catcher Devin Ivany a rest and gave shortstop Myron Leslie the shin guards to do some catching, and the scouts took notice.

“It’s like anything in life,” a scout from the Oakland Athletics said. “Like in college, if you have two majors, it just shows that you can do more.”

Another scout, who said he worked for the Minnesota Twins, said it is good that Leslie plays catcher as well because he’ll never see time at shortstop in the big leagues.

Leslie said that his experience at catcher is limited. He caught some in the fall during intersquad games, but this was his first official appearance behind the plate. He said before the season coach Eddie Cardieri told him he needed a guy to be his third catcher and that it would help the team if he would do it, and Leslie was up to it.

“If it’s going to help us win, then I’m cool with that.”

The Bulls scored 15 runs on 16 hits, including Jeff Baisley’s tie-breaking three-run home run in the fourth, bringing their record to 4-0, the first time they’ve done that since 1986. Since the Bulls were comfortably ahead Tuesday, Leslie got to impress the scouts with his performance behind the plate.

“He looks like Charles Johnson back there to me,” Cardieri said. “He might do some catching in pro ball; you never know. And what a valuable guy(Leslie is). He can play third (base), short, first (base), catch and swing a bat from both sides of the plate. He is very versatile.”

Leslie said he does it for the good of the team, though.

“It’ll help me out, but I’m not doing it for them (the scouts),” Leslie said.

Leslie’s parents, Pam and Jack Leslie, who attend every Bulls home game, said he looked good behind the plate — better than in the fall.

And as versatile as her son is, Mrs. Leslie would like to see her son pitch, but she said he would hate it because he wouldn’t be able to hit. Leslie went 2-for-4 at the plate in Tuesday’s win.

Chase Lirette got a second chance on the mound for USF after he was knocked out early in a relief appearance in the season opener. In his first start as a Bull he pitched five innings, giving up six hits and three earned runs.

Cardieri said he liked how Lirette bounced back after that first appearance.

“I thought he gave us a fantastic start. He gave us five innings and got us to our bullpen,” Cardieri said. “It was good for him, (and) I think it was a shot of confidence for him.”

With the win, the Bulls had another productive game with their bats.

Designated hitter Matt McHargue added his second home run of the year, while third baseman Baisley hit his first.

“We swung the bats pretty good,” Cardieri said.

As for Leslie, one scout said that no matter what position he plays for the Bulls, he’s definitely going to get his chance in the pros after this season.

For the Bulls, if their No.1 and No. 2 catchers go down, they know they have a replacement in Leslie.

“If one of those guys goes down, then he’s definitely going to be doing some catching,” Cardieri said.