Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Jose De Leon will make his major league debut tomorrow against the San Diego Padres. Here's a look at what to expect.
First, the basics from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Jose De Leon, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 185 DOB: August 7, 1992
2015: Grade B-
A 24th round pick from Southern University in 2013, Jose De Leon has been a stunning success in pro ball. In college he threw 87-92 MPH but better physical conditioning and mechanical adjustments have improved that to 91-94, topping at 95-96. He has a good slider and has developed a plus change-up. De Leon was one of the most dominant starters in the minor leagues for much of 2015 but had a few rough patches at mid-season. His velocity was down in August though he remained effective statistically, with a 2.11 ERA and a 31/4 K/BB in his last 21 innings. That’s a good thing in the sense that it showed he could continue to perform at a very high level without his best stuff, but the velocity slippage does lead to a few questions about his durability, if you really want to nitpick something. Assuming no physical issues, he should be ready sometime in 2016 and projects as a number three starter with some chance to get beyond that. Grade A-.
2016 got off to a slow start for De Leon: an ankle injury and shoulder soreness cost De Leon all of April and most of May, but by the end of June he was firmly established in the rotation for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He did not disappoint, going 7-1 in 16 starts with a 2.61 ERA with a spectacular 111/20 K/BB in 86 innings, allowing a mere 61 hits. And that's in the Pacific Coast League, not an easy environment.
Scouting reports continue to emphasize superior command and control of a low-to-mid-90s fastball, an excellent change-up, and a steadily improving breaking ball. Certainly the numbers are impeccable, especially lately: in his last three starts De Leon has a 33/0 K/BB in 22 innings.
In my mind the only remaining question for De Leon is durability: he's only exceeded 100 innings once in his career and it remains to be seen if he can sustain a full-scale MLB workload without losing his stuff or his command. Aside from that concern, he has everything going for him.