Originally posted on Sliding Into Home  |  Last updated 10/5/12


I had the pleasure of getting to speak briefly with Tampa Yankees’ right fielder, Kelvin De Leon. He was signed by the Yankees as an International Free Agent on the July 2nd signing date in 2007. After a very impressive 2008 campaign in the Dominican Summer League, he made his jump to the United States in 2009 as a member of the Gulf Coast League Yankees. Always heralded for his big time power potential, De Leon has had a steady path towards reaching his dreams of one day donning the pinstripes of the New York Yankees. With a good showing next season, he can make a jump to the Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League. He has the talent and is desire and work ethic is second to none.

Trevor Wolff: I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Sugar, but it follows the story of a young Dominican pitcher named Miguel Santos. His biggest struggle appeared to be dealing with life off of the field since he was in a new country & away from home for the first time. Was it a struggle for you to adapt to the U.S. when you came to the Gulf Coast League in 2009?
Kelvin De Leon: It was a bit difficult, especially because it is a different language, but over time I adapted to the language as well as the food and atmosphere as I knew most of the year would be in the U.S.
Trevor Wolff:  Here in the U.S., you’ve played in Tampa, Staten Island, & Charleston…what city has been your favorite place to play in so far?
Kelvin De Leon: [Staten Island] was my favorite place because it is the island state [portion] of New York City where the major league team is, where one day with the help of God I will play, I also felt the family because many of them live there
Trevor Wolff:  What pitcher that you faced in the Dominican Summer League back in 2008 do you think will go on to have the most successful Major League career?
Kelvin De Leon: Edwar Cabrera, I think [he plays for] Colorado, is the pitcher who played with me in 2008 that may have a good career in the big leagues.
Trevor Wolff: Who has been the toughest pitcher that you’ve faced here in the U.S., and what made him so tough to hit? Kelvin De Leon: I faced many talented pitchers in America but I think one of the best front what this year is Jose Fernandez who plays for Miami Marlins [in their farm system. Fernandez finished the year with the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Florida State League].
Trevor Wolff: Do the Yankees implement a program that assists young foreign players into adapting to the United States?
Kelvin De Leon: They have a good program from summer league [Dominican Summer League].  They teach us English, [and how to] speak like the [players in the] in the United States.  [We] arrived in the United States and took classes until we perfect the language so it will help fellow Americans socialize with us.
Trevor Wolff:  Now that the offseason is here, do you plan on playing any fall or winter ball? If not, what is a typical offseason for you?
Kelvin De Leon: Right now I'm in training for my team, Toros del Este [of the Dominican Winter League] this winter. I play here to learn as there are more experienced players of all levels, including big leagues to help me learn more about the game.  I’ll be playing with players at the highest levels, and the level that I am at.
Trevor Wolff: The last comment is all yours. If there was one thing that you can tell baseball fans everywhere about the grind of playing Minor League Baseball, what would that be?
Kelvin De Leon: I can only [show my] desire.  I love baseball,  it is not just a sport for me, but it's my lifestyle, I always give it as much as possible to fulfill my dream and with the help of God and my hard work, I will end up where I hope to be.
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