April 20, 2019 (Frisco, Texas)
Four hours prior to the first pitch of tonight’s game against the Midland Rockhounds, Frisco RoughRiders utility infielder Michael De Leon is out fielding grounders and looking smooth doing it. As I watched him move from position to position in the infield, the fluid motion of his body never changed as his hands softly accepted every ball into his glove. It was quite impressive actually to watch, as the game today is all about offense. His work ethic defensively is why some scouts/bloggers/insiders say he is the most pro ready in the Rangers organization due to his flexibility to play multiple positions. Oh, and he’s improving at the plate. More on that later.
Doing my research on De Leon before our sit down didn’t help much. The only thing about him was stats. Because of this, I wanted to find out more about the person as well as the ballplayer. I decided to mix personal with baseball related questions. After batting practice, we had a chance to sit down and talk.
GS– What did you work on this past offseason?
MDL– I worked on my speed and strength a little bit.
GS- What offensive stat is most important to you?
MDL- Runs Batted In.
*Going into Saturday’s game De Leon’s on base percentage is .368, up from .295 in 2018 and .257 in 2017. He started the season with a 9 game on base streak.
GS- Michael, your on base percentage has been steadily going up the past 2 years and so far this year its the highest its ever been since playing professional ball. Did you come into this season wanting to be more patient at the plate?
MDL– I am seeing more pitches, I know the league from being here a few years. I know how they are trying to pitch me. I am more comfortable and trying to see more pitches. I’m trying to look for my pitch.
*De Leon didn’t strike out until his 25th at bat of the season.
GS- Speaking of seeing more pitches, last year in 503 at bats you only walked 21 times. In 15 games so far this year you’ve already walked 8 times in 47 at bats.
MDL- Yes, I am seeing more pitches and being more patient. Every time I walk to the plate I have a plan. I want to know what I’m looking for depending on the situation. I feel very comfortable at the plate right now.
*With a walk and a hit that night De Leon raised his On Base Percentage to .377 for the season.
GS- Let’s get to more about the person now! What is your favorite home cooked meal.
MDL- Coming from the Dominican Republic i like rice, beans and chicken. My favorite fast food is McDonalds.
GS- Favorite TV show?
GS- Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?
MDL- I enjoyed watching Jose Reyes. He enjoys the game and plays the game right way.
GS- Growing up in the Dominican Republic, when did you realize baseball could be a career for you?
MDL- When I was 12 or 13 I went to the Dominican Academy and I was watching the players that was drafted and signed and I knew I had the talent to be a good baseball player.
*The night of this interview the RoughRiders had “Multicultural Night” at the park.
GS- Michael, what does it mean to you personally that Frisco is having a Multicultural Night at Dr. Pepper Ballpark?
MDL- For me I feel good because they are trying to pull everyone to be on the same page and get to know my teammates because sometimes it’s difficult because I come from the Dominican and we have players from Curacao, Mexico and Venezuela.
GS- How important is it to you knowing kids from the Dominican are looking up to you?
MDL- It means a lot to me. It’s important to be a leader and how we prepare and play the game so the kids can see that.
*I noticed when I started to talk about the Dominican Republic De Leon lit up. It was obvious coming from the Dominican is important to him.
GS- Thank you for your time Michael! Good luck to night and the rest of the season!
MDL- Thank you very much!
Watching the game I noticed a few more things about De Leon. He was very interactive with the Roughriders pitchers, slapping his glove in support numerous times to let them know he was behind them. He proved this to be true turning 2 double plays and not having an error that evening. Always smiling De Leon has an infectious attitude that his team mates seem to gravitate to.
*The RoughRiders won the game in walk off fashion for the second night in a row beating the Rockhounds 8-7 in the 10th.