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De Leon 'can't wait' to make Rays debut

Prospect to start against Red Sox on Thursday
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jose De Leon will make his Rays debut Thursday afternoon when he starts against the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

"I'm really excited about it," De Leon said. "Can't wait."

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jose De Leon will make his Rays debut Thursday afternoon when he starts against the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

"I'm really excited about it," De Leon said. "Can't wait."

The bright-eyed right-hander has a refreshingly positive manner. And at age 24, why wouldn't he?

Particularly with all he's got going for him.

• Spring Training: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

The Rays acquired De Leon from the Dodgers in January in exchange for second baseman Logan Forsythe. He is rated as the Rays' No. 3 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.

De Leon broke into the Major Leagues in 2016, going 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA through four starts in September.

Video: SD@LAD: De Leon fans Myers for first MLB strikeout

"Having that opportunity to be on a Major League roster for the first time, it's something that's going to help you for whatever happens next," De Leon said. "I think whatever I experienced with the Dodgers is going to help me throughout my career. And especially now with the Rays."

A native of Puerto Rico, he was selected by the Dodgers out of Southern University in the 24th round of the 2013 Draft. He owns a 3.35 ERA with 446 strikeouts through four seasons (67 games, 64 starts) in the Minors.

Early in camp, De Leon experienced a little tightness in his back, which delayed his start slightly. Nothing to be concerned with according to De Leon.

"They were being cautious, and so they decided to skip a bullpen," De Leon said. "They just moved me back a couple of days. Now I'm ready to go. I'm feeling great. Everything is perfect."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jose De Leon