1. José De León, Reds right-handed pitcher
José De León came to the Cincinnati Reds with a glowing resumé from his time in both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays organizations. At one time, De León was among the top right-handed prospects in all of baseball.
Fast-forward to 2021, and now clear of the injuries that have plagued him during the early part of his career, De León looks ready to live up to those lofty expectations. The right-hander is said to be in competition with Michael Lorenzen for the final spot in the Reds rotation, though it appears that the bullpen is likely where we’ll see De León begin the 2021 season.
De León’s mixture of fastball, changeup, slider can be a dangerous trio of offering from the 28-year-old. De León’s fastball sits in the mid-90s, and his changeup is undoubtedly his best off speed pitch. De León saw an increase in velocity last season, even though he appeared in just five games. De León was hitting 95-plus on the radar gun, after sitting in the low-90s earlier in his career.
The key for José De León in 2021 is staying healthy. De León has suffered discomfort in the flexor mass muscle in the forearm in 2017, then suffered a mild lat strain, and later elbow tendinitis. De León underwent Tommy John surgery after tearing his UCL in 2018 and returned to the big leagues in 2019 with the Rays.
This could be it for De León. The native of Puerto Rico is out of minor-league options, meaning if he doesn’t stick on the 26-man roster out of Goodyear, he’ll be exposed to waivers. I think we’re going to see a big spring and summer from the right-hander who’ll be looking to prove that he belongs.