Scouting Yankees Prospect #19: Kelvin De Leon

The Yankees signed outfielder Kelvin De Leon for $1.1 million out of the Dominican Republic as part of their 'July 2nd' signing group in 2007. Considered a five-tool talent by many scouts, he has spent his time since then learning the game of baseball and trying to turn his tools into game production.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Kelvin De Leon
Position: Right Field
DOB: October 29, 1990
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"I didn't think it was a great year but I thought I did okay," De Leon said through the help of a translator. "I think I could have done everything better and my goal is to get better at everything everyday."

He hit just .269 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in his first year in the United States in 2009, but his seven home runs ranked third in the league.

His power has always been a given though. Learning to make more consistent contact, recognizing breaking pitches better, and becoming a better all-around player has been his developmental mantra.

"Recognizing the breaking pitches is the biggest thing I need to improve," he added. "I feel I can control myself better now, whether or not to swing at the breaking pitches.

"I've gotten a lot better defensively, reading fly balls in particular. This year I communicated with the centerfielder better too."

A naturally shy player who has had his desire questioned by some, perhaps the biggest advancement in his game has been his increased intensity. Once prone to not running out balls, that isn't even an issue anymore.

"Somebody is always talking to me about that, having more adrenaline for the game and I believe I've been doing that," De Leon admitted. "I think that's going to help me more, putting forth the effort all of the time."

So while the numbers have been solid so far in his young career, it's the other aspects of his game that has many team insiders sit up and take notice that he can be more than just a slugger.

"I first saw Kelvin last year at Instructional League and the progress he's made since then has just been tremendous," GCL Yankees manager Tommy Slater said. "He's greatly improved on defense.

"His routes in the outfield are much better. He's got a good arm and he's controlling that arm now. He's not just throwing wildly, he's throwing to the right bases with good, low cuttable throws that carry through to their intended targets."

Getting better in the field will help him advance through the minor leagues quicker, but in the end everyone knows that his greatest strength is his offensive potential.

"I think the key for Kelvin, when he's using the whole field and we talk about it quite a bit, when he's hitting balls to right-center and centerfield that usually leads to a pretty good overall game for him," Slater added. "He's just made great strides in every phase of the game in the last year."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2009 GCL Yankees .269 201 13 7 31 28 5 16 61 .330 .438
2008 DSL Yankees2 .289 235 16 9 43 43 8 34 74 .399 .489


Batting and Power. De Leon has some of the best power inside the organization. It's not just a potential tool either, it's 'now' power to all fields. However, predominantly a pull-power hitter, he is learning to use the whole field more. Like most young Latin American hitters, he just hasn't been exposed enough to real good breaking pitches and that is definitely the chink in his offensive game. His plus bat speed allows him to hit almost any fastball and able to sit back longer to wait on breaking pitches, but his ultra-aggressiveness often times has him abandoning that approach too frequently. He has also shown an ability to be patient at times. He has the foundation to be a good hitter for average, but he needs a stronger commitment to his game plan to achieve that.

Base Running and Speed. De Leon has good speed for a slugger and he has shown bursts of being able to put it into a higher gear at times. He is very raw in the running game though and his aggressiveness at the plate hasn't translated into to the same audacity on the base paths. He needs to come out of his shell a bit in the running game because the wheels are there.

Defense. De Leon has the two necessary prerequisites to be a good outfielder - good range and a strong throwing arm. And while he has gotten better at communicating with his centerfielder, taking better routes on balls, and hitting his cutoff man in the right situations, he still has more room to grow in those in-game experiences.

Projection. De Leon has all of the physical tools to be an impact player someday - plus power, good speed, and a strong arm. The great progress he made last year also shows he has the mental capacity to make the necessary adjustments once he makes it a priority. The vastly improved hustle he showed in 2009 can't be overstated either. The biggest obstacles he faces going forward is getting too complacent in the non-hitting aspects of his game and also learning to hit, and lay off of, the better breaking pitches. Until that time he will remain a high risk, high reward player whose ceiling is that of a big league middle of the lineup kind of hitter. The ceiling is vast but the development could be slow.

ETA. 2013. As raw as De Leon can look, his improved tenacity is the kind of effort that coaches love and that could give him a leg up to begin the 2010 season in the long-season leagues with the Charleston Riverdogs.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Kelvin De Leon
\r\nPosition: Right Field
\r\nDOB: October 29, 1990
\r\nHeight: 6'3\"
\r\nWeight: 195
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\n\"I didn't think it was a great year but I thought I did okay,\" De Leon said through the help of a translator. \"I think I could have done everything better and my goal is to get better at everything everyday.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe hit just .269 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in his first year in the United States in 2009, but his seven home runs ranked third in the league.
\r\n
\r\nHis power has always been a given though. Learning to make more consistent contact, recognizing breaking pitches better, and becoming a better all-around player has been his developmental mantra.
\r\n
\r\n\"Recognizing the breaking pitches is the biggest thing I need to improve,\" he added. \"I feel I can control myself better now, whether or not to swing at the breaking pitches.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've gotten a lot better defensively, reading fly balls in particular. This year I communicated with the centerfielder better too.\"
\r\n
\r\nA naturally shy player who has had his desire questioned by some, perhaps the biggest advancement in his game has been his increased intensity. Once prone to not running out balls, that isn't even an issue anymore.
\r\n
\r\n\"Somebody is always talking to me about that, having more adrenaline for the game and I believe I've been doing that,\" De Leon admitted. \"I think that's going to help me more, putting forth the effort all of the time.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo while the numbers have been solid so far in his young career, it's the other aspects of his game that has many team insiders sit up and take notice that he can be more than just a slugger.
\r\n
\r\n\"I first saw Kelvin last year at Instructional League and the progress he's made since then has just been tremendous,\" GCL Yankees manager Tommy Slater said. \"He's greatly improved on defense.
\r\n
\r\n\"His routes in the outfield are much better. He's got a good arm and he's controlling that arm now. He's not just throwing wildly, he's throwing to the right bases with good, low cuttable throws that carry through to their intended targets.\"
\r\n
\r\nGetting better in the field will help him advance through the minor leagues quicker, but in the end everyone knows that his greatest strength is his offensive potential.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think the key for Kelvin, when he's using the whole field and we talk about it quite a bit, when he's hitting balls to right-center and centerfield that usually leads to a pretty good overall game for him,\" Slater added. \"He's just made great strides in every phase of the game in the last year.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

Year

\r\n

Team

\r\n

AVG

\r\n

AB

\r\n

2B

\r\n

HR

\r\n

RBI

\r\n

R

\r\n

SB

\r\n

BB

\r\n

SO

\r\n

OBP

\r\n

SLG

\r\n 2009\r\n GCL Yankees\r\n .269\r\n 201\r\n 13\r\n 7\r\n 31\r\n 28\r\n 5\r\n 16\r\n 61\r\n .330\r\n .438
\r\n 2008\r\n DSL Yankees2\r\n .289\r\n 235\r\n 16\r\n 9\r\n 43\r\n 43\r\n 8\r\n 34\r\n 74\r\n .399\r\n .489

\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power. De Leon has some of the best power inside the organization. It's not just a potential tool either, it's 'now' power to all fields. However, predominantly a pull-power hitter, he is learning to use the whole field more. Like most young Latin American hitters, he just hasn't been exposed enough to real good breaking pitches and that is definitely the chink in his offensive game. His plus bat speed allows him to hit almost any fastball and able to sit back longer to wait on breaking pitches, but his ultra-aggressiveness often times has him abandoning that approach too frequently. He has also shown an ability to be patient at times. He has the foundation to be a good hitter for average, but he needs a stronger commitment to his game plan to achieve that.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed. De Leon has good speed for a slugger and he has shown bursts of being able to put it into a higher gear at times. He is very raw in the running game though and his aggressiveness at the plate hasn't translated into to the same audacity on the base paths. He needs to come out of his shell a bit in the running game because the wheels are there.
\r\n
\r\nDefense. De Leon has the two necessary prerequisites to be a good outfielder - good range and a strong throwing arm. And while he has gotten better at communicating with his centerfielder, taking better routes on balls, and hitting his cutoff man in the right situations, he still has more room to grow in those in-game experiences.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. De Leon has all of the physical tools to be an impact player someday - plus power, good speed, and a strong arm. The great progress he made last year also shows he has the mental capacity to make the necessary adjustments once he makes it a priority. The vastly improved hustle he showed in 2009 can't be overstated either. The biggest obstacles he faces going forward is getting too complacent in the non-hitting aspects of his game and also learning to hit, and lay off of, the better breaking pitches. Until that time he will remain a high risk, high reward player whose ceiling is that of a big league middle of the lineup kind of hitter. The ceiling is vast but the development could be slow.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2013. As raw as De Leon can look, his improved tenacity is the kind of effort that coaches love and that could give him a leg up to begin the 2010 season in the long-season leagues with the Charleston Riverdogs.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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