Jose De Leon came in at No. 33 on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects. He would’ve been the Dodgers’ No. 2. Instead he’s striving to make an impact on a pitching rich Rays team.
Los Angeles traded De Leon in a one-for-one swap that brought second baseman Logan Forsythe to California. Forysthe addressed the second base void and lack of right-handed hitting, while De Leon was a casualty of the franchise’s pitching surplus.
Hello Tampa! ?..already feels like home! ??
— Jose De León (@JDL_87) January 26, 2017
In an interview with MiLB.com’s Sam Dykstra, De Leon revealed details of the trade call. It happened just before he departed for FanFest.
“I was driving from my hometown to San Juan because I was supposed to be flying out to L.A. for the Dodgers FanFest,” De Leon said. “I got a call from Gabe Kapler, and I wasn’t thinking it was going to be anything. I just thought it would be him telling me that he was excited to see me in L.A. I had nothing in mind really. Then he told me about the trade, and I was kind of shocked. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought about how good an opportunity it was. For me, I get to be close to home, which is really convenient. I understand the business of the game too, and I think it was a good thing for both sides.”
De Leon expressed appreciation to the Dodgers, saying he’ll “forever be grateful” and they’ll always have a special place in his heart. He also said he was thankful to be traded to the Rays not just because it’s closer to home, but because they have a history of developing arms.
As for his six starts in L.A., De Leon said he learned how professionals operate.
“Work ethic is the big thing,” he said. “I saw how Clayton Kershaw worked. I saw how Rich Hill worked. I saw how Kenta Maeda worked. Starting pitchers, relievers, position players – they were all the same. They’re watching video or working out, doing as much as they can to stay on top of their game. They’re all so cool.”