Frisco, Texas —— Entering play on Monday night, Texas Rangers shortstop prospect Michael De leon is slashing .240/.276/.296/.573 for the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders with 8 doubles, a home run, and eleven walks against 30 strikeouts over 233 at-bats in 2017. I’ve observed the Texas Rangers’ defensive whiz kid dozens of times between 2016 and early 2017; below is Baseball Census‘ full Michael De Leon scouting report, including several videos.
Michael De Leon Scouting Report — Video
Our first video of Texas Rangers shortstop Michael De Leon comes from a late May/early June homestand in Frisco against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and the Arkansas Travelers:
And our second Michael De Leon video comes from the 2016 season, when he played for the Texas Rangers’ former High-A affiliate in the California League, the High Desert Mavericks:
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Michael De Leon Scouting Report — Notes
Michael De Leon has a limited offensive profile. Tracks the ball well and has a pretty good understanding of the strike zone and how to take an approach at the plate, but doesn’t walk enough. Content to hack early in the count. Swing mechanics are inconsistent. Arm bar—especially from the left side of the plate—hurts the Texas Rangers prospect, especially against above-average fastballs. Good contact skills, and a definite two-strike approach to put the ball in play, but virtually no power. Above-average speed helps, and switch-hitting ability makes him relatively immune to late inning matchup strategies, but far from a lineup threat in any situation. Lacks patience at the plate to draw enough walks and get on base consistently enough to hit at the top of the order. That, combined with his lack of even gap power leaves De Leon a bottom-of-the-order type who will need to survive through small ball and situational hitting.
That said, he’s a defensive whiz. Can play shortstop, second base, and third base with ease, and has the range, footwork, and arm strength to successfully play shortstop in the big leagues. Defensive ability and maturity to take charge in the field have been the reasoning behind De Leon’s lighting-quick movement through the minor leagues, and while the bat will always lag behind to a significant degree, De Leon should make a lot of money in baseball simply because of his exceptional glove work. Easily one of the best defenders I’ve seen in the last several seasons, and as a 20-year-old in Double-A at a premium position, no less.
Michael De Leon Scouting Report — Projection
The Texas Rangers have themselves a bona fide big league defender here, but his bat will ultimately dictate where and how they can use him at the big league level. Good enough to stick every day at shortstop, so long as there is enough of a lineup around him, since virtually all his value will come from his glove. With switch-hitting ability, speed, athleticism, and versatility, he could also become an interesting super sub across the entire infield, depending on roster construction. For me, even despite the exceptional glove, he’s not advanced enough offensively to warrant 600+ plate appearances a year in the big leagues unless there’s a really, really stacked lineup around him, so organizational context will matter.
Should fill out some in the coming years; he’s only 20 now, and listed at 6’1″, 160 lbs., which is probably about right. A little bit of added weight won’t impact his range or athleticism, though, and I’m telling you—he can really go and get it on defense. (Have I mentioned that before?) Underrated and under-appreciated leadership skills, too; the Texas Rangers threw him into the fire as a very young player the last few years, and he answered the bell with a consistent approach and intense competitiveness. His bat will ultimately dictate his ceiling, but Michael De Leon has the glove to play in the big leagues for a very long time.
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