Thought I’d create a dedicated thread for the $4MM Cuban who has sparked some serious interest among Astros fans. Some of that interest is a little too sky-high in my estimation (I’ve halfway convinced myself that I saw someone reference him as the Cuban Messiah) but still i’m the asshole creating the thread just for him.
A bit of a refresher: As a 19-year old in 2017-2018, Leon hit .333/.365/.556 in 32 games in his first year in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He followed that the next season with 15 HRs in 33 games and an overall .383/.467/.789 line. Leon and the Astros reached a deal back on Feb 6 of last year. Of the oral variety. After MLB delayed the international signing period from it’s original Jul 2 commencement, the deal with Leon did not become official until last month. At the time of the verbal agreement, ESPN reported this on its website:
While a roster at his workout on Wednesday listed him at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, one scout estimated Leon to be 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds. Scouts didn’t get to see Leon’s reputed power on display during the workout at the Giants’ academy in the Dominican Republic as they were told he’d already reached a deal with a team. Leon was cleared as a free agent in December, but delayed his open workout due to an oblique injury. Scouts say he previously has dealt with a shoulder injury as well. Cuban prospects have to wait to negotiate with clubs until after their first open workout for all 30 teams, or after they are cleared to be a free agent. Sources said Leon worked out privately for the Astros at their facility recently and the club was able to collect valuable data using advanced technology such as bat sensors and radar-based technology like TrackMan that other clubs weren’t able to collect on Wednesday.
Leon turns 23 in May and must engage in some serious rust removal since the last time he played a competitive inning of baseball was over two years ago. And even though he was paid the highest bonus in his Jan 15 class (J15 is the new J2), the ranking gurus don’t see him as the top prospect among foreign players. Fangraphs has 10-11 guys ranked ahead of him among 2021 international signees. MLB Pipeline has him at #7 among their Top 30 International Prospects list.
While Leon generally gets good marks across the board for his tools, the question came up in an earlier thread discussion about whether his arm was an 80 or not (on the 20-80 scouting scale where 20 is a “you’re in the wrong profession” and an 80 is…just the opposite of that). There now seems to be a consensus that yes indeed that arm is golden:
- MLB Pipeline: “he’s a center fielder with 30-30 upside and top-of-the-scale arm strength” (2/18/21 mlb.com article)
- The Athletic: “he can show some huge tools, including 80 sprint times and an 80 arm, as well as huge raw power” (Astros 2021 prospect rankings from Keith Law)
- Fangraphs: an 80 grade assigned to his arm on “The Board”
So speed, pop, cannon for an arm and the ability to play CF. The big question seems to be whether he’ll hit for average. The safe bet would be an assignment to Fayetteville to begin 2021. Putting him instead at Asheville would be more of an eye-opener.
Leon of course will be in big league camp as a non-roster invite (along with guys like Zach Daniels and Alex Santos who also have yet to play a professional game). And FWIW, on the ST roster the Astros have him listed at 5’10" 170 lbs (neither of which may be accurate nor up to date).