September 3, 2016
Jose De Leon
The Situation: Nobody’s pitching staff has endured more injuries than Los Angeles’s has in 2016. Only Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir have made 20 starts, and the Dodgers have had to send 14 different starting pitchers to the hill. In addition to a certain left-handed Cy Young winner, they’ve used a guy you forgot was in the organization, a guy you never realized was in the organization, and a guy you forgot about when he left the organization; a major league journeyman and a minor league journeyman; internal injury-prone hurlers and imported injury-prone hurlers; a teenage phenom and at least one guy you probably hadn’t heard of until you saw him in a box score. Now the Dodgers turn to Jose De Leon, their top pitching prospect, as they push for the division in September.
Background: A 24th-round pick out of Southern University in 2013, De Leon struggled in his pro debut before emerging as a pop-up prospect in 2014. He had pedestrian stuff in college, but his fastball ticked up soon after he signed, and his star rose quickly once he reached full season ball. He breezed through the Cal League last season and struck out well over a batter per inning after a midseason promotion to Double-A. This year, De Leon has arguably been the best pitcher in the PCL. The 24-year-old has posted a 2.61 ERA while striking out 111 hitters while walking just 20 in 86 innings. He’s been on a roll lately too, having not allowed a hit in three weeks or a run since Independence Day*.