Welcome to the Bench: Arnold Leon

Born: 9/6/1988 (27 years old) Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Drafted: Signed as an international free agent by Oakland Athletics in 2008
Teams: Oakland Athletics (2015)
Positions: Pitcher
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 205 lbs
Bat: Right
Throw: Right
Full Baseball Reference Bio

arnold leon stats
Fangraphs Profile for Career and Advanced Statistics

The Trade
On January 5, 2016 the Oakland Athletics trade Leon to the Blue Jays for cash and a player to be named later.

What he brings to the team
The Jays continue to add to their pitching depth. Leon doesn’t move the needle much for me, but with relief pitchers how can you ever know? Leon has not had a lot of big league experience, but has had some successful flashes in the minor leagues. He has posted a 4.35 ERA and in 310 total innings at Triple-A. He also has some starting experience. He started six games at triple-A Nashville with a 2.95 ERA last year. In 2014 he went 10-7 with a 4.97 ERA in 27 starts for triple-A Sacramento. As I have been saying for most of the offseason, Shapiro needs to use the remaining budget to acquire pitching depth rather than top-end arms in order to raise the floor of the team’s talent and minimize the impact of a Stromanesque injury.

That being said Leon does have some nice stuff and could potentially have a role in Toronto’s bullpen. Last year his fastball velocity maxed out at 94.8 MPH and bottomed out at 86.2 with an average velocity of 91.6. He also throws a slider, cutter and change up. His slider was particularly effective giving up an OPS .553 on 66 pitches thrown. Obviously It’ll be interesting to see how these numbers hold up over a larger sample size.

PitchFx data on Arnold Leon for more info on his pitches.

Why he’s on the bench
Again small sample size, but Leon gave up a .930 OPS and 159 wRC+ on his fastball which he threw 59.6% of the time. From this I can only assume that his problem is that he either needs to locate his fastball better or work with his other pitches more. If Leon wants to stick in the bigs he needs to use his fastball more effectively or lower its usage. Who knows if he’ll even play in Toronto this year. Fangraphs’ “Steamer” projections predict that he will only pitch 1 inning in the MLB this season.

I know that I promised to only write about marginal minor league players once they actually make the Jays, but for Leon I made the exception. The reason is purely for nostalgia sake. Do you remember the Canada Mexico brawl at the 2013 World Baseball Classic?

Of course you do. Well #42 on the mound, who plunked Rene Tosoni to spark one of the biggest fights in baseball history, was none other than Arnold Leon.

Don Cherry commentary at the 1:52 mark. Give this guy more air time Sportsnet!


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