JOSE DE LEON TAMPA BAY #26
Jose De Leon | Rank: 26 (Preseason: NR)
Team: Durham Bulls (AAA)ETA: 2019Position: RHPAge: 26 DOB: 08/07/1992Bats: R Throws: RHeight: 6′ 1″ Weight: 220 lb.Drafted: 2013, 24th (724) – LAD
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
The Dodgers signed De Leon for $35,000 as a 24th-round pick in 2013 after he had spent three years in Southern University’s starting rotation. He broke out the next year, when he was the Rookie-level Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year and broke Clayton Kershaw’s Class A Great Lakes single-game strikeout record with 14. He led the Minors in whiffs per nine innings (12.8) in 2015, then dominated Triple-A and made his big league debut with the Dodgers in ’16, only to be traded to the Rays in exchange for Logan Forsythe during the offseason. Though he would make his Rays debut in May, De Leon spent much of 2017 on the shelf with right forearm and lat strains and had his entire ’18 campaign wiped out by Tommy John surgery. He made a healthy return to the mound in the Florida State League this May before joining Triple-A Durham’s starting rotation.
De Leon’s rash of injuries impacted his velocity, and he was sitting in the 88-92 mph range upon joining the Rays after previously working at 92-94 and bumping 96. Since returning from TJ surgery, the right-hander has been consistently 91-95 mph and throwing his heater with late life up in the zone. De Leon’s changeup is still his his best secondary pitch, a legitimate plus offering that plays nicely off of his fastball, and he also throws a slider that’s effective when he gets right-handers to chase it off the plate.
De Leon has a strong track record as a strike-thrower, though it likely will take him some time to regain the control and command he had before his myriad injuries. He still has the upside of a big league starter, at this point likely a No. 4 or No. 5, though he’ll need to stay healthy in order to achieve such potential.