Continuing our "What to Expect" series for major league rookies, we turn out attention to Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Arnold Leon. He's appeared in two games so far for the Jays, pitching 2.1 innings, giving up three hits and two runs, walking one but fanning two.
Leon is from Mexico and was originally signed by the Oakland Athletics as a free agent back in 2008. He missed 2010 and 2011 recovering from Tommy John surgery but posted fairly decent seasons as a starting pitcher in Double-A and Triple-A in 2013 and 2014. In 2015 he moved to the bullpen and pitched well in Triple-A (2.95 ERA, 55/19 K/BB in 58 innings). He came to the majors last summer and posted a 4.39 ERA in 27 innings for Oakland, with a 19/9 K/BB, but retains rookie status for 2016.
Toronto purchased him this past January and he earned a spot in the bullpen for Opening Day after throwing seven shutout innings in Spring Training.
As a starter in the high minors Leon showed an 89-91 MPH fastball but in the bullpen his velocity ticks up a bit, 90-93 in general, averaging about 92, but with peaks as high as 95. He has a full assortment of secondary pitches including a hard slider, a softer curve, and a straight change-up. This diversity makes him an attractive starter in the high minors but in major league action he seems to fit better in relief, since the additional fastball tick improves his margin for error.
At age 27 Leon doesn't have much left to prove in the minors. For a major league club he projects as the 10th or 11th man on a staff, someone who can pitch long or middle relief and even start a game if necessary.