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LA Angels ink surprise former quality big league pitcher to MiLB deal

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Sep 6, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon (32) has been picked up by the LA Angels.
Sep 6, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon (32) has been picked up by the LA Angels. / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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The LA Angels have struck on a MiLB deal with former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon.

You probably remember the name, as the 30-year-old has pitched four years in the Big Leagues as both a starter and reliever in each season. He also used to be a pretty good pitcher.

In his first two years in this league, Ponce de Leon's numbers looked a little like this:

--3.31 ERA

--124 ERA+

--9.1 K/9

--6.6 H/9

--3.98 FIP

--0.9 HR/9

He's only going to be on our squad on a Minor League deal, however, due to his recent struggles in 2020 and 2021. His numbers from these past two seasons show regression:

--5.59 ERA

--73 ERA+

--9.4 K/9

--7.5 H/9

--5.88 FIP

--1.8 HR/9

If Daniel Ponce de Leon can get back on track, he can be an impact guy for the LA Angels bullpen.

Daniel Ponce de Leon has struggled overall as a starting pitcher in his career, but he has had good overall career numbers as a reliever. He'd be best as a reliever with the LA Angels.

His 4.66 ERA as a starter is disappointing, but his 3.76 bullpen ERA is pretty solid. He's only given up seven home runs in 55 innings as a reliever as opposed to 14 in 92.2 innings pitched as a starter. His BAA as a reliever is lowered 10 points to .207 than where he's at as a starter, which makes up for the fact that he admittedly doesn't strike many guys out when coming from the bullpen (8.3 per nine innings).

The latest news on the MLB lockout suggests that Minor League players will be heading to Spring Training no matter what happens with the Major Leagues up to that point. That means that even if the lockout really continues to extend out in the future, Ponce de Leon will absolutely be getting many chances to develop in the spring.

Next. Building the dream Angels rotation. dark

This could fail, as Ponce de Leon has of course not been pitching well these past couple of years. It could, however, be a sneaky good move for the Halos in an effort to continue committing to pitching ever since the draft last year.

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