A former top prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, José De León was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for cash and a player to be named later.
If José De León returns to form, the Cincinnati Reds may have pulled off a fantastic trade with the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday. De León, a former top pitching prospect, was traded from the Rays to the Reds in exchange for cash considerations and a player to be named later. Before Tommy John surgery in 2017, De León was expected to be a top-flight starter in the major leagues.
De León was an unheralded pitcher who was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, De León put together a phenomenal season in the Pioneer League during the 2014 season, taking home Pitcher of the Year honors while playing for the Ogden Raptors and putting his name among the tops in the Dodgers organization.
De León was quickly elevated, by MLB Pipeline, to a Top 10 prospect with Los Angeles and climbed the organizational ladder. Following a 4-1 start with a 1.67 ERA at Advanced-A Rancho Cucamonga, De León was promoted to Double-A Tulsa. The following season, De León was 7-1 with 2.61 ERA at Triple-A Oklahoma City. De León recorded 111 strikeouts to just 20 walks.
José De León was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays following the 2016 season, but battled injuries the entire 2017. He pitched in one game at the big league level and 10 in the Rays minor leagues. De León was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in March of 2018 and missed the entire season. De León returned to pitch four games in the majors this season for the Rays.
Last season, before being promoted to the bigs, De León pitching in 17 games for Triple-A Durham, including 13 starts. De León went 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA, striking out 73 batters in the process and walking 27.
Injuries have slowed De León’s ascension to the majors, but he has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and and effective changeup that he’ll use as his go-to secondary pitch. If De León can continue to find the strike zone, he could find his way onto the Reds roster. Last season with Triple-A Durham, De León had a 32.9% strikeout-rate.
The 27-year-old from Puerto Rico is certainly an interesting addition to this Cincinnati Reds team. When speaking to the Cincinnati Enquirer earlier this week, GM Nick Krall mentioned the need for the Reds to acquire more pitching. He may not be a frontline starter, but José De León may compete to be the Reds fifth starter or could land a spot in the rotation.