One unheralded pitcher from each level of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system who could…
The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)
Selected 2012 stats
CariocaCardinal (42): I've never been a big Victor De Leon fan but I am starting to come around (slightly). He is a guy who has had some organizational buzz for some time but never seemed to show results. His stats this year still were not blow-away type numbers, but he showed improved control and was very unhittable.
Given he will still be 20 years old in spring training next year, it seems reasonable that he might still live up to his tools in the next year or two. Those tools include a high 90's fastball with movement plus an improving curve ball and change up that show potential to be plus pitches.
It seems hard to predict where De Leon will open 2013. My guess is State College, but if he has a strong spring, Peoria or even Palm Beach wouldn't surprise me.
Message board community (29): Baseball America ranked De Leon the ninth-best prospect in the Appalachian League this past season. Victor is 20 years old, is listed at 6' 2" and 190 pounds, and throws 95-97 mph consistently. That's the good news.
The not-as-good news is that Victor doesn't really have a single pitch he reliably throws for strikes, so the foundation isn't there upon which you can build a three-pitch mid-rotation starter. But if he can sharpen either his curve or changeup, while simultaneously gaining more FB command, you could have a Mitchell Boggs-type setup guy in a few years. And there's no shame in that. - BobReed
Brian Walton (42): Before the season, I selected one sleeper pitcher at each level who I thought could surprise during 2012. De Leon was my choice from last year's Gulf Coast League club, coming off his age 18 season.
What first opened my eyes wre first-hand reports that the right-hander can hit 97 mph and sit on 94. In an indication of how the organization sees him, De Leon was among the youngest and least-experienced players invited to early spring camp this year.
While De Leon has received good marks for progress with his slider and change up, obviously more work is required. Otherwise, he would be in St. Louis, not Johnson City!
Still, as Carioca noted, De Leon demonstrated "improved control and was very unhittable" as a teenager in 2012. What is not to like about that? At this stage, I am more than willing to bet on his upside potential.
Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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