The Cincinnati Reds don’t have too many players active in the various winter leagues being played around the world right now, but on Tuesday they saw José De León put together an impressive outing in Puerto Rico for the Criollos de Caguas as he racked up 12 strikeouts with just one walk across five innings as he picked up the win.
Some quick math tells us that to complete five innings of work that a pitcher would need to record 15 outs. For 12 of those outs to come via the strikeout is getting a whole lot of work done without the help of the defense behind you. In the first inning, José De León struck out the first two hitters he faced before former Red (for all of two days in spring training of 2018) Kennys Vargas grounded out to end the inning.
In the second inning we saw De León strike out the side, and after a leadoff double given up to Brian Navarreto in the third inning, he followed up by striking out the next three hitters, too – pushing his total on the day to eight in just three innings. The fourth inning began with two more strikeouts before a walk – the only one he would allow on the day – but the right-handed starter rebounded by striking out Danny Ortiz to end the threat.
The fifth inning was the only one in which José De León didn’t strike out multiple batters. After a fly out to center to begin the inning, it was once again Brian Navarreto coming through as he doubled for the second time in the game. After striking out Jesmuel Valentin for the second out of the inning, De León allowed an RBI single to Jeremy Rivera that turned a 5-0 lead into a 5-1 ballgame. Rivera, however, was thrown out at second base to end the frame.
For José De León it’s been a strong start to the Puerto Rican Winter League. He’s now made two starts and thrown 9.0 innings between the two games. He’s only allowed one earned run, given up just three hits, he’s walked five batters, and he’s struck out 20 of the 34 hitters that he’s faced.