What did the Reds see in De Leon?
“He is a former top prospect who has a chance to provide pitching depth,” general manager Nick Krall said. “He has a good fastball, a good change-up. We had a chance to get him here for depth whether as a starter or reliever.”
The Reds gave up little for a pitcher who has an injury history similar to Anthony DeSclafani. The Reds want to take a good look at De Leon this spring.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys in that group,” Krall said. “We’ve got Mark Payton (Rule 5 outfielder), Jose, Justin Shafer (RHP) who was a waiver claim and non-roster guys as well. Last year we had two non-roster guys make the club and add positive value in Derek (Dietrich) and Jose Iglesias. Who knows what happens every year in camp.”
De Leon is on the 40-man roster but has options left. He will be under team control through 2025.
Reds manager David Bell pitched De Leon against a Los Angeles Angels lineup on Tuesday that featured Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Albert Pujols and Anthony Rendon.
“…I was hoping they would be in the lineup,” said De Leon, who is scheduled to pitch against the A’s on Friday. “If you want to prove yourself, you’ve got to prove yourself against the best. It wasn’t the best outing but I was able to get some swing and misses. I got a swing and miss against Trout with a fastball. That is something I will remember forever.”
De Leon gave up two runs, two hits and walked a batter in the 2/3 of an inning vs. the Angels.
“My arm feels amazing. … I just couldn’t execute the elevated fastball to put away guys,” he said. “This is absolutely the best I’ve felt. I’ve never felt like this before. … The confidence I have in my arm now that I know it’s healthy. I didn’t have that last year even though I was feeling good. It was the first year after surgery and I was hesitant to whip it and throw it with max effort. This outing I was throwing max effort. I didn’t feel anything at all. That’s what I’m taking from this outing.”
De Leon relies on his fastball and change up combination and is working on a slider with pitching coach Derek Johnson. He used it against the Angels with good results. Now the Reds are looking at how he will fit.
“He has good stuff,” Bell said. “We want to see him more. He has talent and is a really good kid. We’re happy to have him.”