Minor league baseball is back across the United States of America! Last night, the Louisville Bats, the Cincinnati Reds‘ Triple-A affiliate, sent the capacity crowd home happy after infield prospect Michael De Leon pounded a grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning.
De Leon is a former top prospect of the Texas Rangers, and was signed out of the Dominican Republic during the 2013-14 signing period. De Leon debuted in Double-A as a 17-year-old and was the youngest player to ever play in the Arizona Fall League.
Michael De Leon hit a walk-off grand slam for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate.
Michael De Leon, despite being just 24 years old, has been around professional baseball for some time. But it’s doubtful he’s ever felt the exhilaration that accompanied his bases-clearing, game-winning bomb last night.
Like Major League Baseball, Triple-A play begins extra innings with a “ghost runner” on second base. Mark Payton, who’s seen some time with the Reds this season, got the honors last night with the game knotted at 5 runs apiece.
Former Brewers player Logan Morrison reached on a error and Payton scampered to third base. With runners on the corners, the Bats’ opponent, the Indianapolis Indians, walked the next batter Alex Rodriguez. Indianapolis pitcher Braeden Ogle struck out Bats’ catcher Beau Taylor, setting the stage for De Leon to be the hero.
De Leon is known more for this glove than his bat. The versatile defender has never had an OPS above .700 during his seven minor league seasons. But you wouldn’t know it after last night. After taking a pitch inside to start the at-bat, De Leon hammered the next pitch he saw into the seats in left field.
As the ball entered the stands, De Leon, who was slowly moving toward first base with bat in-hand, tossed his lumber into the air as the capacity crowd roared with jubilation. De Leon rounded the bases and was met at home plate with buckets of water and his equally ecstatic teammates.
Michael De Leon isn’t having the best of seasons. The former Rangers’ farmhand is hitting .194/.231/.419 since his promotion from Double-A Chattanooga. But last night, De Leon was a hero in the Derby City. Tonight, the fans in Louisville get another treat with Hunter Greene making his second start at Triple-A; his first at Louisville Slugger Field.