Name: Arnold Leon
Signed: OAK, as amateur free agent in November 2007
MLB Service Time: 1 day
Thanks to a blister injury to starter Jesse Hahn over the weekend, a short start by Kendall Graveman on Monday and a blow-out loss on Tuesday, the Oakland A’s bullpen is stretched very thin. Longman Jesse Chavez is unavailable, as he will take Hahn’s spot in the rotation for at least one turn. Meanwhile, right-hander Dan Otero had a four-inning outing on Monday, leaving his availability on Wednesday in some doubt.
With the A’s needing more length in their bullpen, Oakland has recalled right-hander Arnold Leon from Triple-A Nashville. The promotion was first reported by A’s Spanish radio broadcaster Manolo Hernandez. This is Leon’s second trip to the big leagues, but he is still looking to make his major-league debut. Leon was promoted to Oakland for one day last season when the A’s had a scheduled double-header, but he wasn’t needed in either game.
Right-hander R.J. Alvarez was sent down to Triple-A Nashville to make room for Leon. Right-hander Nate Long was promoted from Midland to Nashville to make Leon's start on Wednesday. Long had been pitching in a long relief role out of the Midland bullpen.
Leon joins starter Sonny Gray as the A’s only two homegrown players on their current active 25-man roster. Leon’s tenure in the A’s organization is superseded only by Stockton right-hander Jonathan Joseph (signed before the 2006 season) and injured closer Sean Doolittle, who was drafted by Oakland a few months before Leon signed with the A’s out of Mexico. Leon and Doolittle both made their full-season debuts in 2008 with the High-A Stockton Ports. Although neither player finished the year on the Stockton roster, both were valuable contributors to the Ports’ 2008 championship run.
Leon’s journey through the minor leagues has been unusual. He began his career with a shared contract between the A’s and his Mexican Summer League team. He split the 2008 season between the US and Mexico before becoming full property of the A’s in 2009. Leon pitched in Mexico every winter, putting a lot of innings on his arm at an early age.
Those innings caught-up to Leon in 2010. He injured his elbow during his third start of the season and had Tommy John surgery. The surgery cost him the rest of the 2010 season and much of the 2011 campaign. Before the injury, Leon had transitioned from the bullpen to the starting rotation, but he returned as a reliever in 2012. He pitched at three levels that season (High-A, Double-A and Triple-A), posting a 2.70 ERA and striking out 74 in 66.2 innings.
In 2013, Leon returned to the starting rotation and he split his season between Double-A and Triple-A. In 144 innings, Leon had a 4.13 ERA and a 97:24 K:BB. Last season, Leon was in the Triple-A starting rotation the entire year – save that one day in Oakland. He had a 4.97 ERA and 128 strike-outs in 145 innings.
Last winter, Leon starred in the Mexican Winter League, helping his team win the Mexican Winter League title. He threw 57 innings and posted a 2.05 ERA and a 59:12 K:BB. Reports had Leon’s fastball touch 96 MPH over the winter. He followed that performance with a strong spring training, first in big league camp and later in minor league camp.
Leon has made two starts for Nashville so far this year. He has a 7.56 ERA in those 8.1 innings, but his K:BB is 11:2 and he has a 2.25 GO/AO. Leon’s stuff has always played up a touch in the bullpen and he could find a long-term role as a longman in the A’s bullpen eventually.
For a complete scouting report on Leon from this off-season, click here.