A native of the Dominican Republic, De Leon has been working his way through the minor league system since he was signed by the Yankees in 2007. Now 20 years old, this year had not been particularly easy for the young De Leon.
Despite having a great deal of power, he struggled with strikeouts throughout the season. Over the last month he made some progress with his hitting, hitting .255 over that stretch, but it was a question of whether he could stay consistent as the season wraps up.
"He's made a lot of improvements," explained Greg Colbrunn, Charleston's hitting coach. "Numbers-wise it's not really showing up, but since the second half of the season he's got his strikeouts down tremendously. His swing has cleaned up a lot and he does have 14 homeruns. The power is there, now it's just trying to get it to come out on a consistent basis."
De Leon felt good about his recent performance on the field. He acknowledged that he lessened his strikeouts over the second half of the season and also said that he felt the team worked better for the second half of the season.
"Right now I'm working on everything," stated De Leon. "My strength is that I've got good power and I can hit a ball out of the field. My weakness is hitting a breaking ball pitch."
It may have been that inability to hit a breaking ball pitch that hurt De Leon more during the beginning of the season. For the first half of the season he had a batting average of .208 and hit ten home runs, unfortunately the number that stood out was his 93 strikeouts. Although he has racked up 53 strikeouts since the All-Star break, it was far less than before.
"He's been trying to get some length through the zone with his swing and just being more consistent," mentioned Colbrunn of De Leon's progress at the plate. "He's got the power and now he's cut the strikeouts a lot so he needs to continue to have a good approach every at-bat."
De Leon seemed to get a lot of attention for his offense, but the right fielder had been performing well on the field all season. He said that he continued to work on his defensive skills throughout the year and that he felt better this year than he has in the past.
Although his strikeout total of 146 had him ranked in the top five in the SAL at end of August, De Leon did not let it get to him. He also had a .217 batting average with 14 home runs and 59 RBI for the season which is not half bad. He said that his goal was to hit 20 bombs and end the year with a .250 batting average.
"I want to see him do what he's been doing the second half and just consistency," stated Colbrunn of what he hoped to see from De Leon for the last few games. "One of the big things at this level is consistency, just to continue to work on the things we've been working on and taking it in the game on a everyday basis."
De Leon Making Some Progress
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