LOS ANGELES—Righthander Jose De Leon was holding it together pretty well—until he saw his younger brother Juan hanging over the railing at Dodger Stadium watching him warm up for his major league debut.
“I was pretty calm until I saw my brother,” said De Leon, 24. “I like to stick to my routine pre-game, but I stopped my warmup, went up to him and hugged him. I told him, ‘I did it.’ We got emotional. He almost cried.”
De Leon waited longer than expected to make his debut with the Dodgers. Despite Los Angeles using 14 starting pitchers before him—including fellow rookies Julio Urias, Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart—De Leon didn’t get the call until early September as the Dodgers delayed moving him onto their 40-man roster.
“If I tell you I wasn’t thinking about it, I’d be lying,” said De Leon, a 24th-round pick out of Southern in 2013. “But you’ve got to control what you can control. I tried not to think about that. I was just having fun down there, and that’s the same thing I’ll try to do up here.
“(The Dodgers front office) had a plan. You just have to stick to it. I just wanted to be ready when they called me—and they did.”
De Leon went 7-1, 2.61 in 16 starts at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He recorded a 0.94 WHIP to go with 111 strikeouts and 20 walks in 86.1 innings. He then went six innings and got the win in his big league debut, striking out nine.
The record for strikeouts in a Los Angeles Dodgers rookie debut—10—was set by Kaz Ishii (2002) and Pedro Astacio (1992).
“There are no words to describe it,” De Leon said after making his debut in front of 18 friends and family, including his parents and brother, who traveled all the way from his native Puerto Rico to be at Dodger Stadium. “It was pretty special.”
• The Dodgers promoted first baseman Cody Bellinger to Oklahoma City at the end of the season. The organization’s top position prospect went 6-for-11 with three homers and six RBIs in three games before the Pacific Coast League playoffs began. He hit .250 with a homer, a double and five RBIs during the playoffs.
• Righthander Carlos Frias did not pitch after July 7 because of an oblique injury, but he helped the Dodgers set a record in September. When Los Angeles recalled him and placed him on the 60-day disabled list, the paper move created roster space to activate Clayton Kershaw. That made Frias the 28th different player to go on the DL for the Dodgers this season, the most by any team in the past 30 years.