Puerto Rico’s baseball team, led by ‘coach’ Yadier Molina, made the first perfect game in World Baseball Classic (WBC) history. Forgotten pitching prospect Jose De Leon (31) from the Los Angeles Dodgers was at the center of it. 

Puerto Rico won a 10-0, 8th cold game victory in the 2023 WBC Round 1 Group D Israel match held at Londipo Park in Miami, Florida, on the 14th (hereinafter Korean time). 

While the batting line exploded with 11 hits and 10 runs, four pitchers combined for 8 scoreless innings perfect. In order for a no-hitter or perfect game to be recognized as an official record, 9 regular innings must be filled. Although it is an unofficial record, it was the first perfect game in the WBC, which started in 2006 and celebrated its 5th. 

De Leon (31), who became the starting pitcher and became the winning pitcher, struck out as many as 10 in 5⅔innings, striking out 10 batters including active major leaguer Jac Pederson (San Francisco) and former major league players, and perfecting up to 2 outs in 6 innings. overwhelmed with With a maximum of 94.2 miles (151.6 km), he used changeups (11), sliders (7), curves, and cutters (more than one) centered on sinkers (44).  메이저놀이터

De Leon, who was replaced at 64 pitches due to the WBC 1st round pitch limit (65 pitches), threw a ball that was powerful enough to induce 12 missed swings. De Leon, who was replaced with 2 out in the 6th inning as the number of pitches was full, went down the mound after sharing a hug with coach Molina and his teammates. Receiving a standing ovation from the Puerto Rican crowd that filled the third base crowd, De Leon took off his hat, beat his chest, and raised his arms to cheer the crowd. 

Following De Leon, Yaxel Rios (⅓ innings, 1 strikeout), Edwin Diaz (1 inning, 1 strikeout), and Duane Underwood Jr. (1 inning), who pitched in relief, took charge of the remaining 2⅓ innings and completed 8 innings of team perfection. According to ‘MLB.com’, De Leon said after the game, “I’ve been dreaming of this moment. He wanted to show the people of Puerto Rico that I was still here. It was a special moment,” he said. 

De Leon, who also participated in the WBC in 2017, is a former Dodgers prospect. After making his big league debut with the Dodgers in September 2016, he won two consecutive starts, but was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in return for 20 home run second baseman Logan Forsythe ahead of the next season. He was expected as a starting prospect, but after undergoing an elbow ligament joint surgery in 2018, he walked on a decline. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 2020, but there was no rebound, and he was released mid-season in July 2021. His career performance in his 5 major league seasons was 4 wins and 1 loss in 53 games (48 innings) with an ERA of 8.44. 

De Leon, who signed a minor contract with the Toronto Blue Jays last year but did not receive a major league call-up, signed a minor contract with the Minnesota Twins again and is preparing for this season. In the situation where he became a forgotten prospect, he participated in the WBC again and showed off his presence after a long time by establishing a foothold for a historic perfect game. 

De Leon said, “Today’s game is dedicated to the fans who have watched over my career. It’s not easy to watch a player who has a lot of injuries and doesn’t appear in the game for a long time. I am grateful to the fans and family who believed in me. I also did not lose faith in myself. This moment is really amazing,” he said. “To be able to spend this moment wearing a Puerto Rican uniform is 100 times more special.

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