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Jose De Leon Unhittable During Rehab Outing

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Feb 18, 2017; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jose De Leon (87) poses for a photo during photo day at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 18, 2017; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jose De Leon (87) poses for a photo during photo day at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Jose De Leon struggled in his first rehab outing with the Charlotte Stone Crabs. Turns out, there was nothing to be worried about.

Even though Jose De Leon was expected to begin the 2017 campaign in the minors, this was not the way the Tampa Bay Rays envisioned it. He had injured his forearm in Spring Training, leading to a stint on the disabled list. Finally able to get back on the mound, De Leon struggled in his first rehab start, allowing five hits and two runs in 3.1 innings.

If there were any concerns about De Leon’s performance for Charlotte, they were answered the other day. Making his second rehab appearance, he threw five no hit innings, striking out five batters while issuing just two walks. Interestingly, one of the walks was issued to another rehabbing player, Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

At this point, one has to wonder how much longer De Leon will stay in Charlotte. Even in his rough initial outing, he has notched 12 strikeouts in his 8.1 innings, as he has overpowered the Florida State League. However, De Leon is not worried about the results from his outings, with a focus on how he is feeling.

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Indeed, what was truly important is that De Leon was able to command both his fastball and change. This allowed him to work on his curve and slider, getting all four pitches going. Understandably, this led to a truly dominant performance.

However, this does not mean that a call up to the Rays is eminent. Instead, De Leon is staying with the Stone Crabs for the time being, before being activated and sent to Durham. There, if he continues to pitch well and build his stamina back up, he could get a look in Tampa Bay in the second half of the season. In the interim, as he will be teaming up with Brent Honeywell and Jacob Faria, De Leon will give the Bulls one of the top starting rotations in the minor leagues.

Next: Ramirez getting another chance in rotation

It was impressive, but it was just one rehab outing for Jose De Leon. However, if this is a springboard to an impressive run in the minors, then De Leon could make an appearance with the Rays come the second half of the season.

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