While much of the attention fell upon Japanese righty Kenta Maeda in the Dodgers’ 7-2 victory over Arizona in Saturday’s Cactus League contest, the first spring appearance of highly rated pitching prospect Jose De Leon was equally as exciting.
De León entered the game in the sixth for the Dodgers, and quickly allowed a leadoff double to Diamondbacks’ shortstop Nick Ahmed. After an errant pickoff throw to second base (which could have resulted from a case of testy nerves), De León came back with a vengeance and struck out the side to end the inning.
Continuing into the seventh, De León did allow a single, but tallied another strikeout, then ended his outing with a very tidy groundball double play.
Here’s a quick peek of all three of his strikeouts in the sixth inning:
De León was credited with the highly coveted spring training win.
Manager Dave Roberts sounded impressed with De León’s debut performance.
“Jose throwing strikes, keeping the ball down,” Roberts said. “Mixes his offspeed pitches in there. Had a baserunner on, held the runner well. Mixed in a quick step once in a while. Just his composure he had out there was good to see.”
Although a longshot candidate, De León is still in the running for a spot in the Dodgers’ starting pitching rotation after teammate Brett Anderson had surgery earlier in the week for a bulging disc in his lower back.
Maeda also threw two scoreless innings on Saturday while striking out two and giving up only one hit. He threw 28 pitches and faced the minimum six batters, despite giving up a double to Phil Gosselin, who was eventually thrown out trying to steal. With the Dodgers employing a defensive shift to the right side against David Peralta, shortstop Corey Seager was able to cover third base and tag out Gosselin.
“He was very efficient,” Roberts said of Maeda. “There were some swings and misses, he made some good pitches. We were thinking about getting out there again since his pitch count was so low. He made a joke with [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] and said he was tired. It was good. We were pretty excited.”
Newly acquired utility man Rob Segedin led the Dodgers with two homers, one in the sixth inning and the other in the eighth.
Zach Lee, who is also believed to be a candidate for the Dodgers’ starting rotation, faces the San Francisco Giants and RHP Jeff Samardzija Sunday at 12 p.m. PT in Scottsdale.
The game will be available on both television (SportsNet LA) and radio (KLAC 570 AM).
(Photo Credit: milb.com)