Connellsville’s Leonard excited about opportunity to play at N.C. State
For Connellsville senior Johnny Leonard, baseball is in his blood. Leonard, who is a standout athlete in many sports, has recently signed a letter of intent to play baseball at North Carolina State.
Leonard had a verbal commitment to play for the Wolfpack, but made it official earlier this month during the NCAA’s early signing period.
“It takes a lot of pressure off of me,” he said in regards to the signing. “I don’t have to worry about what I have to accomplish, and I feel more relaxed. But I’ll still try to put up the numbers.”
Leonard, who expects to play as a middle infielder or center field for North Carolina State, is one in a long line of family members to join a high-profile baseball organization.
His father John was a first-round draft choice by the Baltimore Orioles in the second phase of the 1982 amateur entry draft. His brother Joe was a standout infielder for the University of Pittsburgh and was named the 2010 Big East player of the year before being drafted in June by the Atlanta Braves in the third round of the MLB entry draft.
Leonard knows that he has a long road ahead of him before he accomplishes as much as his brother and father.
“Those are definitely some big footsteps to follow, but I definitely want to make the same impact,” Leonard said.
Leonard has already had quite an impact as a high school player, earning all-conference honors in his sophomore and junior seasons.
This past season, Leonard hit .316, scored 12 runs and drove in seven. He had six doubles, a triple, five walks and just three strikeouts.
According to Connellsville High School baseball coach Joe Bonadio, Leonard is the type of player who is built for success.
“He’s just an all-around good kid, and he comes from a good family,” Bonadio said. “He was probably one of the top players in the state last season as a junior. I think without a doubt he can excel at the next level. He just loves the game.”
In addition to being a very good baseball player, Leonard has also excelled on the golf course and the basketball court at Connellsville. In fact, Leonard needs just 25 points to reach 1,000 points in his basketball career.
But make no mistake: Baseball is his first passion, and he believes that North Carolina State will be a perfect fit for him.
“The academics in the ACC schools are outstanding, and the baseball is really great in the ACC,” Leonard said. “I’m happy to be able to go south, and I’m looking forward to playing against good competition.”
As expected, Leonard has his sights set high when it comes to his career at North Carolina State.
“I definitely want to start and get some playing time as a freshman,” Leonard said. “Hopefully in two or three years, I can get drafted and play in professional baseball.”
Leonard is undecided on a major, but noted that he has an interest in sports management.