Michael DeLeon Scouting Report: Michael DeLeon ranked #15 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 30 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 32 list, and who didn't get traded. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2014. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Michael DeLeon...
Michael DeLeon is a 6'1", 160 lb. switch-hitting shortstop who turned 18 last month. DeLeon signed for a $550,000 bonus with the Rangers as part of their 2013 J-2 class, which also included Marcos Diplan, Yeyson Yrizarri, and Jose Almonte. DeLeon was ranked by BA as the #26 player in the 2013 J-2 class, calling him a "solid all-around player."
Given his age, you would have expected DeLeon to spend the 2014 either in the Dominican Summer League, or in the complex rookie league. However, the Rangers opted to send him to full season ball, having him make a spot appearance for the AA Frisco Roughriders in May before assigning him to low-A Hickory, where he spent the next three months. DeLeon was promoted to high-A Myrtle Beach for the final week of the season and the playoffs. He ended the year with an aggregate .248/.307/.314 line in 404 plate appearances, an impressive result for a 17 year old playing full season ball for the first time, and capped off the his performance with an assignment to the Arizona Fall League.
The aggressive assignment for DeLeon was a byproduct of the Rangers having a need for a shortstop in Hickory, as well as the belief that DeLeon was advanced enough, and had a strong enough mental makeup, that he could handle the assignment and the struggles that would accompany it. DeLeon got good marks for his work in the field, and the 45 Ks against 31 walks last season show that he was able to make contact at a respectable rate against these more advanced pitchers.
Baseball America had DeLeon at #16 in their Rangers rankings, while John Sickels had DeLeon at #17. Keith Law put DeLeon at #15 in his rankings, but Jamey Newberg had him all the way down at #29, and Kiley McDaniel slotted DeLeon at #25 in his rankings.
The consensus seems to be that DeLeon has the tools to be a solid major league shortstop defensively, but there are questions about whether he will ever hit enough. Given the praise for his glove and makeup, he's the type of player you could see potentially carving out a career as a bench guy even if his bat doesn't ever advance to the point that he can be a regular.
As far as 2015 goes, my guess is that DeLeon goes back to Hickory, although its not out of the question that he could be in high-A High Desert this coming year. Given his age, you'd think that he's someone who wouldn't be sniffing the majors until 2019, at the earliest, but given how quickly the Rangers have moved him so far, and their willingness to be aggressive with assignments for advanced middle infielders, its possible he could get there sooner.