Red Sox sign former Reds right-hander José De León to minor-league deal

The Red Sox have signed right-hander Jose De Leon to a minor-league contract, De Leon himself announced on Twitter Thursday.

“Since ‘97, when I started playing baseball, I always dreamed about being a Red Sox,” De Leon wrote Thursday morning. “Today, the dream of that little kid from Isabela, Puerto Rico, becomes reality. So kids, never stop dreaming! We’re back #OnAMission.”

De Leon, who turns 29 on Saturday, was released by the Reds on July 23 after being designated for assignment on July 19.

Across nine appearances (two starts) with Cincinnati this season, the righty posted an 8.35 ERA and 4.53 FIP to go along with 33 strikeouts and 11 walks over 18 1/3 total innings pitched from April 5 through May 4.

Optioned to Triple-A Louisville on May 5, De Leon put up an ERA of 4.63 — but a much more respectable 3.02 FIP — in 12 outings spanning 11 2/3 innings of work with the Bats prior to getting DFA’d.

A native of Isabela, Puerto Rico, the 6-foot-2, 215 pound hurler was originally selected by the Dodgers in the 24th round of the 2013 amateur draft out of Southern University. He was traded to the Rays in January 2017 in exchange for Logan Forsythe, missed the entirety of the 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery that March, and was later traded to the Reds in November 2019 in exchange for cash considerations and a player to be named later.

Once regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, De Leon made his major-league debut with the Dodgers in September 2016 and has appeared in a grand total of 22 games (six starts) at the big-league level between Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati.

In those 22 outings, De Leon has pitched to the tune of an 8.44 ERA and 5.98 FIP while striking out 27.7% and walking 14.5% of the batters he has faced. He also owns a lifetime 3.35 ERA at the Triple-A level.

Per Baseball Savant, De Leon operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a sinker, changeup, and slider. He has also utilized a four-seam fastball in the past.

While it’s unclear at the moment which affiliate De Leon is report to (likely Triple-A Worcester), one thing is for certain: the right-hander does represent some intriguing pitching depth for a club that is seemingly in need of it at the moment.

On top of that, De Leon played alongside Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran and for Red Sox quality control coach Ramon Vazquez for Criollos de Caguas (Alex Cora’s hometown team) of the Puerto Rican Winter League last winter, so there is certainly some familiarity there.

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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