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Top 50 Rays Prospects: No.13, José De León

Baseball: World Baseball Classic-Puerto Rico at Venezuela Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

We were all hopeful that this next guy would be competing for a starting pitching slot this season, but he’s been forced to the sidelines for the year.

No.13, RHP José Eugenio De León, 25 yrs old

Born: August 7th, 1992 in Isabela, Puerto Rico

Height/Weight: 6’1” 220 lbs Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: by the Dodgers after being selected in the 24th rd of the 2013 MLB draft

Twitter handle: @JDL_87

Twitter profile statement:Tampa Bay Rays. World Baseball Classic 2017 Finalist. Puerto Rico. Instagram: @JDL__87 #OnAMission

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as the 6th best Dodgers prospect post-2014
  • Ranked as the 3rd best Dodgers prospect post-2015
  • Ranked as the 23rd best prospect overall post-2015
  • Ranked as the 3rd best Dodgers prospect and PCL prospect post-2016
  • Ranked as the 29th best prospect overall post-2016
  • Ranked as the 25th best Rays prospect post-2017

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 10th
  • Low: 28th

José De León: Abilities

  • Well above-average change up
  • Great fastball
  • Good slider
  • Occasional curve
  • Above-average control of all his pitches
  • Tenacious presence on the mound

Grades for ‘17 (Pipeline): FB: 60 | SL: 50 | CH: 65 | Ctl: 60 | Overall: 55

  • Abilities notes: The sole knock on De Leon that stands out is his durability, which is highlighted by a TJ surgery requirement this season and also by how few innings he’s thrown over his short career. He’s managed just over 100 IP on two occasions but hasn’t been able to get well above, maxing out at 114.1 IP in 2015.

Joined the Rays by way of....

Trade, and one that hadEvan Longoria upset about the loss of Logan Forsythe:

“I’m surprised and upset at losing a player, clubhouse presence and friend like Logan,” Longoria told the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s a rare player.”

Latest Transaction: placed on the 7-day disabled list August 14th, 2017.

Note - While the trade of Forsythe may have been unpopular at the time, he hasn’t been the same player in Los Angeles. He hit 14 fewer HRs, saw his ISO drop from .180 to .102, and saw his wRC+ drop from 113 to 90. The Rays were likely hoping for similar production from Brad Miller who unfortunately had medical issues that prevented that from happening.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

  • Wrote up De Leon as a potential closer candidate pre-injury.
  • Asher at Minor League Ball compared notes of Forsythe and De Leon in November.
  • Was ranked 53rd on Chris Mitchell’s mid-2017 KATOH rankings.
  • Had his Tommy John surgery this March.

Stats

Jose De Leon 2017

GP 11
GP 11
GS 8
IP 41
W 3
L 2
Sv (SvO) 0 (0)
H 33
BB 19
SO 46
HR 3
AvgA 0.21
Whip 1.170
BAbip 0.294
LOB% 76.4%
GB% 46.4%
FB% 38.2%
HR/FB% 1.9%

Stats Notes: Amazingly, De Leon has now played for 9 minor league teams, has thrown 369 innings, allowed 302 hits (.220 avg against), only 115 walks, struck out 490 and maintained a 3.32 ERA, 1.13 whip.

Interesting Comparison: Dylan Bundy

Both are of similar height and size, both are right-handers, and both are being forced to reinvent themselves due to a multitude of injuries (Bundy’s talked about here).

Bundy and De Leon (links to Brooks Baseball) both work at similar speeds with their FB, both have very effective change ups (at 84 MPH on average) which help them neutralize both LHB and RHB. Both are equipped with effective sliders that work at 83-84 MPH, and both have Curves that work at 75 MPH.

If things had worked out for De Leon and had been able to remain healthy this season at 25 years old, he would be about a year behind Bundy in terms of getting his first full MLB season.

When De Leon returns, I’d place a similar expectation as to what Bundy achieved in 2017 once he’s stretched out as a starter, with the possibility that he heads to the pen given his age and injury history.

Notes for 2018 and beyond

What could have been, that’s the tale of 2018 and Rays top prospects Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon. While we never really know if or when these kinds of injuries will happen, it was already known that De Leon was dealing with some injuries, so it came as less of a surprise when he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.

The road ahead is much murkier for De Leon than Honeywell, however. While we know Honeywell will likely return as a starter and has already shown the ability to go deep into a season, exceeding 130 innings on two occasions and 115 innings pitched on four occasions, De Leon has struggled to stay on the mound for an entire season.

That said, with the TJ surgery now behind him and strict workout regimens coming, De Leon could come back stronger than ever and able to put it all together for the first time. Therefore, there’s little doubt the Rays will continue to give him a chance to start upon his return in 2019 with the possibility of using him as a long-reliever when promoted to MLB as they’ve done with Ryan Yarbrough and Yonny Chirinos this season.

Such a scenario would allow De Leon to gain MLB experience earlier and to build up innings as able and required. We certainly wish him a speedy and effective recovery.

José De León: Spotlight Videos

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 55 Rays Prospects

*Note: rankings were adjusted and reflect recent additions to the system - it is now a Top 55 list