Orioles pitching prospect finds fire competing against himself

Luis De Leon sets his sights on moving up in the Baltimore organization

Orioles prospect Luis De Leon warms up his 98 mph fastball as he gets ready for the 2024 season (Photo: David Leo) 

SARASOTA, Fla.- Barahona, Santo Domingo, Sarasota, and Delmarva could make most people seem well traveled.

For Luis De Leon it’s just the start of a dream.

After being scouted and signed by the Baltimore Orioles as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, the left-handed pitcher has had to make adjustments at every level he has played in so far.

De Leon is competing not only for a spot in the Orioles farm system and against opposition. He’s also competing with himself.

“Every day I prepare and I talk to myself while also speaking to the pitching staff and going over the plan for that day so I can be ready,” he said through an interpreter. 

That hasn’t always been the case. As he has grown he has progressed more by checking in with himself daily to make sure he is on the right track. “During my first year here [in Sarasota] I didn’t have that many plans for myself,” he said. “But now that I’ve grown into my role, I have started to plan more.” 

Additional planning before his performances have had a positive effect.  He struck out 67 batters  in 53.2 innings last season, split between the Florida Complex League Orioles and the Delmarva Shorebirds in Low-A.

De Leon’s fastball was his pitch of choice sitting in the 94-95 mph range and topping out at 98, but dropping into the low 90’s in later innings.

De Leon will start the season in Low-A Delmarva with the chance to move up (Photo: David Leo)

The Orioles have high expectations for De Leon.

“He looked very good during his live batting practice the other day, especially left-on-left matchups, and we’re excited for him to start,” said Anthony Villa, the Orioles’ Head of Player Development.

“He is such a young and projectable kid with multiple ways to get hit hitters out, so we’re excited to see his pitching arsenal continue to develop.”

Luis’ pitching and his 6-foot-3 frame have drawn comparisons to former longtime Major League pitcher, and fellow Dominican native, Francisco Liriano but the young Oriole doesn’t want to draw comparisons.

“If I had to choose, I would follow in the steps of (two-time Cy Young Award winner) Blake Snell or be better than him in the future,” he said.

Stepping away from baseball, De Leon likes to spend his time with his family back in Barahona, relaxing at the beach, and also hiking up one of the many mountains found in Bahoruco, at the southern end of the Dominican Republic.

“The biggest change for me,” he said, “Has been being away from home for so long and being away from my family.”

About this article

Posted: Mar 6 2024 10:42 am
Filed under: Baseball Sports