NASHVILLE, Tn. (KPLC) - Gunner Leger is finally getting his shot at pro baseball.
After a long college career, Leger announced on Twitter he signed a free-agent deal with the Cleveland Indians Wednesday. Leger said despite being undrafted, the deal is considered a first-year player contract, with the terms and verbiage similar to an average rookie deal.
“I am healthy, lucky and filled with gratitude,” Leger said in his announcement post, “time to go play some baseball.”
It’s been a winding road for Leger to get to this point as the Lake Charles native was once considered a top-10 round draft choice following a dominant junior season that saw him compile a 10-2 record with a 1.97 ERA. The Barbe product also racked up 84 strikeouts that year.
Leger and MLB teams couldn’t agree on the right deal, so he decided to come back to school to finish his career and earn his degree. However, injuries and multiple surgeries sidelined Leger for all of 2018.
His senior season was more about battling through the previous injuries and finding his stride. While he battled elbow inflammation, Leger eventually found himself as a reliever by the end of the season. He went undrafted in the 2019 MLB Draft.
“I would be lying to you if I wasn’t upset and mad when it all kind of happened with getting hurt and just everything that happened my junior year. Leading into the draft and after the draft and all that stuff," Leger admitted. "With everything that followed— to spend time with Coach Robe during his last year here on earth and with my family with my dad coaching at UL, it’s crazy how it all works out.”
Despite the setbacks, Leger is proud of the person it made him today.
“It’s interesting when you play something your whole life and you dream of doing something with it. You put all your work and effort towards it and to have it somewhat taken away from you by something out of your control, it gives you a new look on life," said Leger. "It gives you a shot of motivation to kick it into the next gear because you don’t take it as for granted as you did before.”
The opportunity came as a bit of a surprise for Leger. The southpaw moved to Nashville, Tennessee, with his girlfriend shortly after the end of the 2019 baseball season to train. The Bledsoe Agency represents Leger and he moved closer to train at their facility to be prepared when the time came for his shot.
“I kind of already decided that the plan was to move up here and put the ball down and try to get healthy again— just get back to being myself," Leger said. "I’ve just been up here training nearly every day for four to five months now.”
That time came when an Indians pitching coordinator came to see him throw. Leger passed his audition.
“We thought it was going to come down to me doing some workouts for some teams and basically having a modified pro day where I would throw some bullpens or whatever it may be. We thought it was probably going to come down to that.”
Leger is still awaiting his first pro assignment but his road to the big leagues is one he’s proud of.
“It will be a part of my story and it’s unique. I own it and I love it.”