Oriol Donny León
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 200 lb.
- High School Dr. Pila High School
Donny León was a prodigious minor league slugger, playing 10 seasons in AAA and hitting over 200 career homers and 500 extra-base hits. He led leagues in average, slugging (three times), home runs, total bases (twice) and RBI (twice). Twice, he won two legs of the Triple Crown but missed out on a third leg.
León was picked by the Chicago Cubs in the 66th round of the 1994 amateur draft but did not sign. A year later, he signed with the New York Yankees and got off to a slow start as a pro, with 7 hits, a double and 3 walks in 44 plate appearances for the GCL Yankees. The next year, though, he took off, batting .361/.394/.571 with 46 RBI in 53 games, then went deep in two of the three playoff games to give the Yanks the title. He led the Gulf Coast League in average (by 19 points), was 6th in OBP, led in slugging (12 points ahead of Derrick Bly), tied for the most total bases (109, even with Bly), was second in hits (69, 3 behind Franklin Font), tied for 4th in doubles (14), tied for 7th in triples (4), tied for 7th in home runs (6), led in RBI (5 ahead of Alexis Zapata) and led in OPS. He was named the GCL All-Star catcher, though Baseball America did not list him among the league's top 20 prospects.
Donny moved up to the Greensboro Bats in 1997, producing at a .254/.278/.390 clip with 32 doubles, 74 RBI and 106 strikeouts. He fielded only .885 at third base, with 40 errors. He led South Atlantic League third basemen in errors and tied for 8th in doubles. He fielded .890 and hit .291/.341/.436 for the '98 Tampa Yankees. With the 1999 Norwich Navigators, he again showed a strong bat (.302/.349/.523, 34 2B, 21 HR, 100 RBI) and a porous glove at the hot corner (.882 fielding percentage, 35 E). He was 10th in the Eastern League in average (right behind Alfonso Soriano), was 10th in slugging, tied Jamey Carroll for second in doubles (two behind Steve Hacker), tied Jayson Bass and Danny Peoples for 10th in home runs, tied Larry Barnes for third in RBI (after Andy Tracy and Raul Gonzalez) and led in errors at 3B. Tracy beat him out for All-Star honors at 3B. Among Yankee farmhands, he was 4th in doubles (between Brian Raabe and Nick Johnson), 4th in slugging (between Tony Tarasco and Alonzo Powell), 5th in homers and first in RBI.
His career than stalled, as he split 2000 between the GCL Yankees (3 for 18, 2 HR, presumably on a rehab stint), Tampa (.215/.276/.329 in 23 G) and AAA Columbus (.250/.320/.441 in 59 G, fielding .937 at 3B). He spent 2001 with the AA Navigators (.255/.290/.427, 15 HR in 116 G) and the Clippers (7 for 43, 2B, 3 BB). He was 7th in the Yankee chain with 27 doubles and 5th with 77 RBI. His 23 miscues at third for Norwich tied Rodney Nye for the EL lead.
He moved to the Cincinnati Reds chain in 2002, splitting action between the Chattanooga Lookouts (.284/.362/.500, 29 2B, 19 RBI) and the Louisville Bats (.250/.278/.456 in 18 G). He led the Southern League in slugging (7 points ahead of Pete LaForest, was second to LaForest in OPS, led in errors at 3B (26), tied Steve Scarborough for 7th in doubles and tied Jeff Deardorff for third in home runs (one behind LaForest and David Kelton). Among Reds minor leaguers, he was third in doubles, 4th in home runs, 5th in RBI and third in slugging. He was named the SL All-Star third baseman for his work.
In 2003, the veteran was with the Boston Red Sox' Pawtucket Red Sox (0 for 4, 3 K) and the Chicago Cubs' West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (.299/.353/.442 in 23 G) and Iowa Cubs (.300/.320/.506 in 90 G). He tied Brendan Harris for third in the Cubs system with 34 doubles and tied Jason Dubois for 5th in home runs (15). He fielded .930 at 3B for Iowa. He remained a solid contributor for Iowa in 2004, batting .277/.334/.441 with 26 doubles and 13 homers while keeping his fielding percentage over .930.
León was a wandering man in 2005, making stops with the Charlotte Knights (2 for 14, 4 BB), Long Island Ducks (.282/.381/.447 in 50 G), St. Paul Saints (.289/.372/.474 in 20 G) and Puebla Parrots (.364/.430/.768, 11 HR, 28 RBI in 27 G), with 23 home runs and 80 RBI in 101 games between the four clubs. He played one game for the 2006 La New Bears of Taiwan, going 1 for 5, but spent most of the year with Puebla, batting .316/.424/.542 with 23 homers and 86 RBI. He had vastly improved his walk rate over the years, now drawing 64 free passes, and was continuing to improve with the glove (.950 FLD at 3B). He tied Efren Espinoza and Javier Robles for 6th in the league in home runs, was 9th in RBI (between Pedro Castellano and Ricardo Sáenz) and tied for 8th in walks.
In 2007, he had a huge year for Puebla, hitting .384/.473/.699 with 31 home runs, 64 walks (only 36 whiffs), 74 runs and 104 RBI in 99 games, playing mainly DH. He finished third in average (behind Carlos Rivera and Geronimo Gil), was 3rd in OBP (after Rivera and Mario Valdez), led in slugging (19 points ahead of Karim García), led in OPS (46 points ahead of Rivera), was second in total bases (242, one shy of Willie Romero), led in home runs (one more than Julian Yan), led in RBI (3 more than Romero) and tied Derrick White for 7th in walks. He won the MVP for his superb near-Triple Crown performance, beating out García and Romero.
The Puerto Rican's production fell significantly in 2008, as he hit .267/.369/.362 with 8 HR between Puebla (53 G) and the Laguna Vaqueros (46 G). He saw limited but effective action in 2009 with the Campeche Pirates (.297/.388/.458 in 33 G) and Monterrey Sultans (.313/.468/.458 in 14 G). In 2009-2010, he led the Puerto Rican League with 15 doubles, playing for the Indios de Mayagüez; he hit .302/.355/.468 though he had just two homers in 37 AB. Donny wrapped up his minor league career with the independent Pittsfield Colonials the next summer, putting up a .259/.349/.404 batting line.
Overall, León had batted .287/.351/.473 with 316 doubles, 220 home runs, 755 runs, 978 RBI and 508 walks in 1,489 minor league games. He fielded .913 at 3B (thanks to his late-career progress) and .993 at 1B.