De Leon Can't Wait

The Yankees were very excited to land outfielder Juan De Leon, widely acclaimed as one of this year's top International free agent signings, for a reported $2 million back on July 2nd. The excitement, however, was very much mutual as the recently turned 17-year old says he can't wait to officially begin his career in his debut season next year.

He entered the International free agent signing period this year ranked as one of, if not the overall, potential top free agent signings. While it had been speculated for some time that he was going to land with the Yankees, he says it felt different once it became official.

"Obviously not everyone signs with the Yankees," De Leon said through the help of a translator. "Not everyone has the ability or the chance to sign [with them] so at first I was very blessed to sign with the Yankees. My family and I were very happy, and pleased with how everything went. Overall it was just an amazing day for me."

Long lauded for his overall tool set and high energy style of play, he feels he enters the professional ranks well equipped at the start of his career.

"They tell me that hitting, my hands are good at swinging the bat," he said. "In the outfield they say that I'm always in the right place at the right time, that's what coaches tell me. I feel like I get good jumps."

That's not to say he didn't need any work or won't need anymore fine-tuning going forward. He did and he does, but he believes his game has already come a long way in a short period of time while working behind the scenes.

"I've learned a lot in both, offense and defense," he admitted. "Defensively, taking the right steps, looking at the ball, not being on my toes, those are things that I've improved on. Offensively, I have learned to stay in. I used to tend to fly open on every pitch. Now I'm staying in and it's working for me."

He recognizes that his initial baptism to the professional game on the back fields at the Yankees' Dominican academy didn't initially go too well. Trying to do too much at the start, he says he has learned to be calmer in his entire approach to the game, to tone down his natural aggressive nature, and allow the game to come to him more.

"At first I was struggling a little bit but now I've made adjustments and things are coming," he opined. "Base hits are coming and I feel a lot better."

He looked tremendous during Yankees' Instructional League in Tampa and word is he's been one of the true impact players down at Dominican Instructs. While the progress is very noticeable, he says he needs to keep it going.

"Obviously I've gotten a lot better on defense but I have to work on my offense some more. I have been working on it and will be working on it more in the winter, trying to stay up the middle, closed with the front side, and next year hopefully it translate into the games."

A high makeup kid with apparent physical tools, a burning desire to be the best, and an overall gregarious nature about him, De Leon, who feels good about how his game is tracking upward, can't wait to officially get his career started with his debut season next year.

"Obviously my goal is to take make it to the big leagues but we've all got to go through these processes. I'm excited. I'm looking forward to the season next year. Obviously a lot of players before me have gone through it. I've talked to them and they've told me what to expect, and I can't wait to start next year," he concluded.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories