PP Scouting Report: RHP, Juan De Leon

When Aaron Boone went down with a knee injury, the Yankees scrambled to find a replacement third baseman and they traded away pitching prospect Jose Garcia to the Rangers for Mike Lamb. With the acquisition of A-Rod, however, Lamb was reduced to so many spare parts. The Yanks sent Lamb to Houston for reliever Juan De Leon, a pitcher with excellent stuff, but possibly not the best attitude.

Vital Statistics:
Name:
Juan De Leon (aka Manuel Flores)
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: June 24, 1982
Place of Birth: La Victoria, Dominican Republic
Height:  5'11"
Weight: 
160
Bats: 
Right
Throws: 
Right
How Acquired:
  Traded by the Houston Astros to the Yankees in March, 2004 for 3B Mike Lamb.

De Leon has an interesting back story behind him.  In 2002, he was known as Manuel Flores, an 18-year-old pitcher out of the Dominican Republic with nasty stuff.  He struck out 63 batters in 55.2 innings in the New York-Penn League, and he was looking like a great prospect for the Astros.  2003 came, however, and Flores ran into problems with his visa.  Turns out that he was really Juan De Leon, a 22-year-old out of the DR with the same ability, only aged a few years.

Baseball players, unlike fine wine, do not necessarily get better with age, particularly not prospects.  So De Leon's status as a prospect took a hit when it became clear that he wasn't as young as he first seemed.  Still, he returned for the 2003 season and put in another good year.  He missed a few weeks because of the visa problems, but still managed a 1.83 ERA and 46 strike outs in 39.1 innings.  

Then, a strange thing happened.  De Leon was dismissed from the Lexington Legends in July for "conduct unbecoming of an Astro".  We've so far been unable to find out what exactly caused De Leon's dismissal, but it's clear that he did something that made Houston not desire his services any longer, and they summarily traded him to the Yankees.

De Leon can dominate the competition at times with his good mix of pitches.  He features a fastball in the low-90's with good movement, and he also throws a curveball and a changeup.  His major performance issue is his high walk totals, which got much worse in 2003.  He walked 3.05 batters per nine innings in 2002 with Tri-City, but that number spiked to 5.06 BB/9 last year.  His WHIP ratio rose accordingly, from 1.00 to 1.18.  The numbers are still good, but a loss of control is never a good sign.

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2003

Lexington Legends

2-1

39.1

24

22

46

1.83

2002

Tri-City Valley Cats

3-2

55.2

37

19

63

2.59

2001

DSL

2-0

35

12

15

50

1.54

Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Change.

Projection:  De Leon projects as a setup man in the majors.  He started games in 2002 with Tri-City, but his size would insinuate that he would be more successful in the relief role he held in 2003.  

ETA:  De Leon was assigned to Tampa in the Yankees' system, meaning a third straight season at single-A.  If he succeeds there, a promotion will definitely be in order.  Assuming he keeps his head on straight and stays out of trouble, De Leon could reach the majors by 2006.

Relief Pitchers

2003 Team

Scott Proctor

AAA - Columbus Clippers

Sam Marsonek

AAA - Columbus Clippers

David Shepard

AAA - Columbus Clippers

Adam Roller AA - Trenton Thunder
Rik Currier AA - Trenton Thunder
Charlies Isaacson AA - Trenton Thunder
Francisco Villegas AA - Trenton Thunder
Juan De Leon A - Tampa Yankees
Matt Brumit A - Battle Creek Yankees
Jason Stephens R - Gulf Coast Yankees
Tyler Clippard R - Gulf Coast Yankees


COMMENTS

1. Scott Proctor- Had an impressive minor league career in the Dodger organization and didn't miss a beat after he was acquired by the Yankees. He possesses a 100 mile per hour fastball and has tremendous strikeout potential as he proved in his 2003 stats. In his time with Columbus in 2003, Proctor posted a 1.42 and struck out an incredible 26 batters in only 19 IP (just with Yankees). Has electric stuff and could be a very good big league reliever in the near future.

2. Sam Marsonek- Marsonek took over the full time closers job in Columbus last year and did an adequate job by racking up a total of 18 saves and posting a 4.84 ERA. He struggled at some points with control and consistency but certainly has a lot of potential.

3. David Shepard- It may be getting a little late for David Shepard, considering the fact that is already 30 years old and 2003 was his first good season in the Yankee organization. However, don't give up on him quite yet, he could still be an effective reliever in the majors if he continues to pitch well in the minors.

4. Adam Roller- The 25 year old righty has collected 47 minor league saves in his 7 seasons in the minor leagues. In his best season in 2001, he compiled 23 saves while posting a 1.20 ERA. He may be sleeper in the organization and could be a guy to watch in the very near future.

5. Rik Currier- Since his college years, the Yankee organization has more or less converted him to a full time reliever. He has a deep repertoire for a reliever which also adds to his effectiveness. In college he was #2 in the USC rotation to star Cubs pitcher Mark Prior and at the time scouts considered that his skills were comparable to Prior's. Their paths ended up being very different but there is no doubt that Currier certainly has all the potential in the world.

6. Charlie Isaacson- Has shown himself to be a very solid and consistent relief pitcher at a every level that he has pitched on, which includes pitching in Battle Creek, Tampa, and Trenton all in the same season. He may have a very nice future ahead of him as a major league pitcher if all continues as it has been in his career.

7. Francisco Villegas- he is a very good strikeout pitcher that has pitched as a setup man throughout his minor league career. Despite this, scouts believe that he could also make a very solid closer with the excellent fastball that he has.

8. Matt Brumit- Brumit has become the full time closer at every level he has played at in the organization and has done a fantastic job at it. In his 2 seasons in the organization he has compiled an outstanding total of 46 saves.

9. Jason Stephens- Had a rough go of it in his first year n the organization, posting a 4.55 ERA and going 0-2. On the other hand, he is still thought of as one of the top relief pitching prospects in the organization.

10. Tyler Clippard- Was the Yankees 9th round pick in the 2003 Draft. He had a very solid season in the Gulf Coast, compiling an impressive 2.89 ERA with an outstanding 56 strikeouts in only 43.2 IP while only walking 5. Clippard thrived as a relief pitcher and impressed many, but despite his endless potential he still needs a lot of work before he is a major league ready.


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