A Quiet Leonora Makes Noise On The Field

Leonora is slugging .514 in his first 30 games

CHARLESTON, SC - Newcomer Ericson Leonora is quickly making strides in Charleston. This is the 21-year old's fifth season in the farm system. The right-handed hitter couldn't be happier to finally play in the long-season leagues with the RiverDogs.

"That is what the first four years were for," Leonora said through the help of a translator, "so to get to this point and that hard work paid off, and hopefully I keep moving up in the right direction. Overall I think I have done excellent. I really just need to keep working."

Leonora joined the team in July and so far in his short time with Charleston he has hit three home runs, posted 14 RBIS and has a batting average of .318. Born in Venezuela, the 5-foot-11 right fielder played in the Dominican Summer League Yankees for three years.

Throughout Extended Spring Training in Tampa this year, Leonora worked hard on getting to where he is now.

"I felt good down in Extended Spring Training," Leonora explained. "I felt like when I got here I kept learning, kept getting better and I am better than when I got here. I have been fortunate to play well."

He was disappointed in initially not breaking camp with Charleston, but realized he just needed to work even harder on his game.

"I was upset at first," Leonora admitted. "But I put my head down and tried to get to work to make it better. Ultimately it has paid off because I am here now.

"I had a small injury during that time," Leonora continued. "But it didn't sideline me for too long and I was fortunately able to get back out there."

Although Leonora admitted to playing under the lights before, the young hurler acknowledged that it is was a big transition coming to Charleston.

"It has been awhile since I have played under the lights," he said. "I have played under the lights in Venezuela but that is a little different. But also learning how to attack the pitchers and how the pitchers attack you is different from the GCL."

RiverDogs hitting coach P.J. Pilittere worked with Leonora on the GCL Yankees last year so he is familiar with the way he plays the game.

"He has done a great job for us," Pilittere said. "I mean, I coached him a little bit last year with GCL so I had an idea of what kind of player he is. He is quiet by nature but he goes about his business in a good way.

"He has got a good chance to become a really good hitter. He impacts the ball and has got some surprising power. He has done a good job so far."

When Leonora was asked about how he could improve on his game, he simply stated that he needed to draw more walks.

"I definitely need to work on getting more walks," Leonora noted. "But as long as I am getting hits it doesn't really matter.

"But seriously I need to improve on my accuracy and throws to bases. I think that is the biggest thing right now for me."

RiverDogs manager Al Pedrique agrees that his new player is quiet. But, he thinks the advancements he has made in his game during such a short period of time is impressive.

"For a young guy, he definitely has some tools," Pedrique stated. "I am impressed with his composure, he is very calm. Whether he comes up to the plate when guys are on base or not he is always the same. Defensively he is the same way, he doesn't ever panic, especially when the game is on the line or when he is playing under the pressure.

"He has a lot of areas he needs to improve. But again for a young guy I am impressed with how mature he acts on the field and off the field. He is very quiet, sometimes you don't know if he is even in the dugout. But he works hard and does things the right way."

Leonora feels as if he has opened some eyes in Charleston and even though it is his fifth season in the system he is ready to be a standout.

"I really hope so," Leonora exclaimed. "I wanted to come up here and play here and do that. I hope that if I keep playing well eventually people are going to take notice."

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