The Mariners have signed right-hander Daniel Ponce de Leon, according to Tacoma Rainiers announcer Mike Curto (Twitter link). Ponce de Leon will take the hill immediately for Triple-A Tacoma, scheduled to start today in the second game of a doubleheader.
The Angels inked Ponce de Leon to a minors contract during the lockout but released him earlier this week. The righty didn’t get a long look in official Cactus League action, as Ponce de Leon pitched just two innings in a single Spring Training game. It marks the second time in less than seven months that Ponce de Leon has been released, after the Cardinals cut him shortly before the end of the 2021 season.
Today’s start for the Rainiers will mark Ponce de Leon’s first official pro game outside of the St. Louis organization. The Cards selected de Leon in the ninth round of the 2014 draft, and he has appeared in the majors in each of the last four seasons working in a swingman capacity. With 22 starts in 57 career MLB games, Ponce de Leon has a 4.33 ERA and 23.9% strikeout rate over 147 2/3 innings in The Show, but his biggest issue has been a lack of control. Ponce de Leon has a 12.7% walk rate in the majors, and his walks have also been on the rise even in the minors over the last few seasons.
The 2021 season saw Ponce de Leon miss about two months due to two separate shoulder-related IL stints, and he posted a 6.21 ERA over 33 1/3 frames for the Cardinals. With his walk total (22) almost matching his strikeouts (24), Ponce de Leon became an expendable piece for the Cards. He’ll now look to catch on with the Mariners, providing some rotation or long relief depth at the Triple-A level.