On Sunday, the 2021 MLB Draft commenced the first-round selections. For the Houston Astros, they were without a first or second-round pick for a second consecutive year, as punishment for the 2017 sign stealing scandal.
With a new general manager at the helm, James Click turned to international free agency to bring in one of the top Cuban prospects in Pedro Leon this past winter. While signing for a $4 million signing bonus, the outfielder was deemed MLB ready, but he hasn’t seen the kindest acclimation to American baseball.
With the first round of the MLB Draft not featuring the Astros, let’s take a look at how Pedro Leon has been playing.
Leon was the only Astros’ prospect selected to the Futures Game for the AL roster, and although only getting into the box once, the right-hander struck out. He only got once chance at the plate on Sunday, as he pinch hit for the DH in the seventh inning.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
After moving to shortstop in spring training, fan speculations assumed Carlos Correa was a goner, and with a recent surge of free agency stock, Correa might as well be. This could change in the coming months for owner Jim Crane, but the price tag continues to rise.
In Double-A with the Corpus Christi Hooks, Leon has played only 58 innings in center field, as his large chunk of playing time has come at shortstop (301 innings). With a high-rated arm, the right-hander could work on consistency when making plays toward first base. Seven errors have been committed by Leon at shortstop giving him a .934 fielding percentage.
While hitting a minor injury in late June, Leon returned to minor-league baseball with a grand slam in his first game back. Most fans anticipate Leon to be taking over the shortstop position or center field job by next season, but he is still adjusting to a different level of professional baseball.
Through 46 games, Leon has slashed .232/.337/.415 in 190 plate appearances. He has been mainly a leadoff hitter thus far, but eight home runs have been tacked onto his name. The right-hander didn’t play from June 24 until July 4, so about a week and a half of production was cut out of his progressions.
The minor-league system has been seen as depleted, and while Leon is the Astros’ top position player, he could be eyed in major trade discussion. Sadly enough, the Astros have unloaded top prospects before for Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke in route to a World Series push. Although a different front office is at work, Click has the same mindset of any contender: win it all.
In my opinion, Leon and Korey Lee should be untouchable as the Astros near the trade deadline. It will be interesting to see where the Astros turn in regard to pitching and who they will toss into the deal.