Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

So what can Rays expect from Jose De Leon? Opinions vary

ST. PETERSBURG — In trading steady second baseman Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers, the Rays have a pretty good idea what they gave up.

Whether the deal turns out to be tremendous, terrible or in between ultimately will depend on what Jose De Leon, the premiere pitching prospect they got in return, turns into.

Initially "shocked" to be dealt on Monday, De Leon came up from his Puerto Rico home to meet his new Rays bosses and teammates this week, and said he was excited by what he heard and saw.

"I'm really happy," he said Thursday. "I know I'm going to have more opportunity, and I'm closer to home, so it's a win-win situation for me."

The Rays expect great things. General manager Erik Neander said De Leon, who made it to the majors in September (2-0, 6.35 in four starts), is very close to making "a significant impact" on their team and ticketed to be "a key member" of the rotation, though he could open the year at Triple-A Durham.

Opinions around the industry vary.

Prospect experts at mlbpipeline.com project De Leon, 24, as "a potential No. 2." Baseball America says he could be "a mid-rotation" starter. Ned Colletti, the Dodgers' former GM and current senior adviser, isn't quite that high on him.

"I wouldn't say top-of-the-rotation pitcher, but they certainly acquired a major-league starter," Colletti said on MLB's TuneIn Live, an online streaming service. "I think De Leon's ceiling is anywhere between a 3 to a 5, depending on his advancement, depending on how he adjusts, how he adapts. He's a solid young man, one of the nicest, toughest kids I know."

That attitude is a big part of the package De Leon brings, working from being a 24th-round pick signed out of Southern University for $35,000 into one of the game's top prospects, dropping 30 pounds and transforming his mechanics in the low minors and making an impressive rise.

But there are questions, starting with the health of his right shoulder, which sidelined for a month last season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Another is why the Dodgers didn't call him up sooner, given a plethora of pitcher injuries. And another is why they traded him when insisting on keeping other prospects.

De Leon said there is no cause for concern. Though held back for a month due to reduced velocity in spring training last year, then after making a May 3 start being sidelined for another month, he returned to go 7-1, 2.77 with 102 strikeouts in 81⅓ innings and got called up.

"I don't think there is anything to worry about," he said. "I'm healthy. I'm in good shape. The arm is feeling great. And that's all that matters."

De Leon has a lot to feel good about.

"I'm on a mission," he said. "I was a low draft pick, nobody knew about me, nobody believed in me, so I'm on a mission to fulfill my dreams. Getting to the big leagues is just the beginning."

RAYS NOTES: Add Billy Butler and possibly Matt Wieters to the list of free agent hitters the Rays are considering. … A one-year deal with outfielder Colby Rasmus could be finalized today.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]tampabay.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

Comments
Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

Rays beat Yankees in 12 innings on Jake Bauers homer

ST. PETERSBURG – Jake Bauers hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning as the Rays defeated the Yankees 7-6 in front of 23,667 at Tropicana Field to complete a three-game sweep Sunday. It's the first time the Yankees have lost three straight t...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

ST. PETERSBURG — With all that's been said, tweeted, ranted and written on these pages and elsewhere about the Rays' odd, unorthodox, weird and some days downright wacky pitching plan, this might be the craziest thing yet:It's working.Like, rea...
Published: 06/23/18
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Published: 06/23/18
Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

ST. PETERSBURG — The key to SS Willy Adames rapping two of the biggest hits in the Rays' 4-0 win Saturday actually took place the night before.An RBI single that snapped an 0-for-12 and a second hit two winnings later in Friday's game restored ...
Published: 06/23/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

INF Daniel Robertson has only played two games after a short DL stint, but it seems like he has already made a half dozen great plays. Willy Adames and Jake Bauers get the attention, but Robertson has the skills to steal the show any night.It is obvi...
Published: 06/23/18
For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

UPDATE, 2:38: Clarifying what was a communication error with the team PR staff, Rays manager Kevin Cash said LHP Blake Snell was slated for an extra day's rest all along and will face the Nationals on Monday not the Yankees on Sunday. The Rays will u...
Published: 06/23/18
Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

1. SS Willy Adames had a nice night, and there appear to be many more in his future. He had two hits, an RBI and an inning-ending leaping catch on a line drive by Didi Gregorius in the fifth.2. DH C.J. Cron needs to shake things up. Take a different ...
Published: 06/22/18
Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

By Allana BarefieldTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — Latin pop star Marc Anthony visited Tropicana Field on Friday to see his beloved Yankees play the Rays.Anthony spent nearly an hour on the field before the game as fans and players surrounde...
Published: 06/22/18
Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays reinstated INF Daniel Robertson from the 10-day disabled list (left hamstring strain). To make room, RHP Austin Pruitt was sent to Triple-A Durham."It's out of my mind. I don't think about (the hamstring) when I'm bend...
Published: 06/22/18
Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG – Many times this season the Rays' strategy of opening the game with a short reliever and using the bullpen to finish hasn't had much success.Friday wasn't one of those nights.A total of six pitchers held the Yankees and their va...
Published: 06/22/18