Daniel Robert Ponce de Leon...Released a book entitled “One Line Drive: A Life-Threatening Injury and a Faith Fueled Comeback” authored by himself with Tom Zenner on March 9, 2021... Legally changed the spelling of his last name from “Poncedeleon” to “Ponce de Leon” during the 2018 offseason...Daniel and wife (Jennifer) have a son Casen (born Thanksgiving Day, 11/24/16) and two daughters: Mila (11/17/18) and Sophia (2/11/21)...His wife played volleyball for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (2013-14), where he pitched his senior season...Graduated from La Mirada (Calif.) High School in 2010, where he was named the school’s All-Athlete of the Year as a senior. ..As a college freshman in 2011, pitched for the University of Arizona...Entering 2022, 10 members of the 2011 Wildcats roster have reached the Majors...Transferred to Cypress (Calif.) College near his hometown for his sophomore season (2012)...Accepted a scholarship to transfer to University of Houston and pitch his junior season (2013)...Selected by Chicago Cubs in 14th round of the June 2013 First-Year Player Draft...Signed with Cubs after being, but failed his physical due to concerns about the ulnar nerve placement in his right elbow...Later ruled ineligible by the NCAA to return to the University of Houston...Transferred to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL for his senior season (2014)...Went 9-2 with a 1.60 ERA and 103 strikeouts for the Eagles...Named a second team NAIA All-American, a first team All-Sun Conference honoree and was a Sun Conference All-Tournament team selection...Became highest drafted Eagle in program history (285th pick).
Pitched in career-high 24 games (two starts) for Cardinals in fourth Major League season...Was a starter in his first two appearances of the year, before making final 22 big league appearances from bullpen...Missed time on two separate injured list stints with right shoulder inflammation (April 30-May 18) and right shoulder discomfort (June 23- Aug. 9)...Totaled five rehab appearances between two stints with Triple-A Memphis and also made one rehab appearance with Double-A Springfield...Released by St. Louis organization on Sept. 23 after being outrighted to Memphis.
Established a Cardinals single-season record for strikeouts/9 IP (12.40) for starting pitchers who threw 30 or more innings...Held opposition to three hits or less in six of eight starts... Earned his first career win as a Major League starter vs. MIL (9/25) in his 20th career start, falling one start shy of tying the MLB record to start a career...His 19 consecutive starts without earning a win (2018- 20) marked the longest stretch in Cardinals history by a starting pitcher...Tied his career-high with nine strikeouts in back-to back starts over 6.0 innings in the second game of a doubleheader at Milwaukee (9/14) and over 5.0 innings in the second game of a doubleheader at PIT (9/18)...Allowed exactly one home run in each of his eight starts, the longest stretch by a Cardinal in franchise history allowing exactly one HR in consecutive appearances...Struck out eight batters over 3.2 innings in his first start of the season against Minnesota at Target Field (7/29). Became one of four pitchers in Cardinals history to strike out eight batters in less than 4.0 innings pitched...Made shortest start of the season vs. CLE (8/28), throwing 41 pitches before exiting with two outs in the 1st inning, the first Cardinals starter since Lance Lynn (9/23/17 vs. PIT) to not complete the 1st inning.
2020 POSTSEASON: Suffered the loss in Game 2 of Wild Card Series at San Diego (10/1) allowing three 7th inning runs & 2 HR’s in relief in an 11-9 defeat.
Pitched in 29 games between St. Louis (13) and Memphis (16), logging a total of 133.0 innings with 138 strikeouts...Struck out nine batters in 5.1 innings of relief at SD (6/29), the most strikeouts by any Major League pitcher in relief during the 2019 season and by a Cardinals pitcher since Al Hrabosky fanned nine vs. PIT (9/25/1974). His 5.1 innings in relief were the longest by a Cardinals relief pitcher in 2019 and since Tyler Lyons tossed 5.1 IP vs. PIT (8/13/2015)...Was recalled from Memphis (AAA) four times in 2019, lastly on 9/1 to start the second game of a doubleheader...Was 8-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 16 starts at Memphis (AAA) Struck out 86 batters in 84.1 innings while allowing just seven home runs in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League...ongest scoreless outing was 6.0 innings of two-hit ball vs. MIA (6/19), his longest scoreless start since his MLB debut in which he threw 7.0 no-hit innings at CIN (7/23/18)...Made one appearance in the postseason pitching the final 2.0 innings and striking out four batters in Game 3 of the NLCS at WSH. The four strikeouts in a relief appearance tied with Stephen Strasburg for the most by a National League relief pitcher in the 2019 postseason, the most by a Cardinals pitcher in a postseason relief appearance since Lance Lynn fanned five vs. WSH in Game 2 of the 2012 NLDS and set the franchise mark for most by a pitcher in his first postseason relief appearance.
Rookie appeared in 11 games (four starts) over four stints after the All-Star Break during his Major League debut season, going 0-2 with a 2.73 ERA (33.0 IP/ 10 ER), one save and 31 strikeouts...Held the opposition to a .205 average against (24-117), including a .140/.246/.308 slashline against opposing left-handers...As a starter, was 0-2 with 2.79 ERA (19.1 IP) with six walks, 22 strikeouts, and a .208 average against (15-72)...Was one of 11 different pitchers to make a start for St. Louis (most since 2014-15 seasons)...Also appeared in seven games as a reliever (13.2 IP), five of which that were multiple innings (T5th-most on the Cardinals). Retired his first batter faced in five of seven outings (two walks). Stranded 2 of 4 inherited runners...Held the opposition to only one hit, a Nolan Arenado grand slam, (1-32) in the first inning pitched in his 11 games...Allowed only one run in five road games (two starts), registering a 0.53 ERA (17.0 IP)...Nine of his 10 total runs allowed (16.0 IP) came in six games (two starts) at home (5.06 home ERA)...Initially had his contract purchased (6/11) when Luke Voit was optioned to Memphis, but did not pitch...Optioned to Memphis three days later (6/14)...Recalled for the second time during the season (7/23) and threw 7.0 no-hit innings in his Major League debut at Cincinnati later that night, before being removed for a pinchhitter after 116 pitches. St. Louis lost 2-1 on a walk-off home run by Eugenio Suárez in the 9th inning...Became the first Cardinals pitcher and one of five pitchers since the Expansion Era (since 1961) to carry a no-hitter through 7.0 innings in his MLB debut, joining Ross Stripling (LAD, 2016), Rudy May (CAL, 1965), Billy Rohr (BOS, 1967) and Bill Slayback (DET, 1972)...Joined Michael Wacha (6/3 vs. PIT) and Austin Gomber (7/24 at CIN) as Cardinals pitchers to carry a no-hitter 6.0 or more innings deep into a game during the season...Was the 13th player in franchise history to make his MLB debut in a start against the Reds (since 1908), and first Cardinals starter to debut in Cincinnati since RHP Bob Forsch on July 7, 1974 (G1) at Riverfront Stadium...Struck out Eugenio Suarez (looking) for his first Major League strikeout (7/23)...His first Major League hit allowed was a grand slam to Nolan Arenado (7/30 vs. COL), which came in relief in his second career MLB appearance. Became the first Cardinal in franchise history (since 1900) whose first hit allowed was a grand slam (Elias), and the first pitcher since Philadelphia's Daniel Stumpf, who surrendered a slam to Eugenio Suárez for his first MLB hit on (4/7/2016 at CIN)...Earned first career save with 3.0 scoreless IP (44 pitches) in 7-0 combined shutout at KC (8/10), in his 4th career game… the last Cardinal to record a 3.0 IP save in his first five career games was Brad Thompson (5/8/2005 vs. SD)...Southern California native returned to the rotation on 8/21 at Dodger Stadium and fanned a career-high eight batters in 4.0 innings in 5-2 Cardinals victory...Optioned the following day (8/22) when Yairo Muñoz and Matt Adams were activated...Recalled with Carson Kelly and Tyler Webb as September call-ups (9/1) and made a start that night against Cincinnati...Retired his first 10 batters faced (43 pitches) to extend his hitless-stretch another 3.1 innings before six consecutive Reds reached to chase him from the game and give him his first career loss...Made spot start in 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh (9/12). In the 3rd inning, became the first Cardinal since second baseman Luis Alicea (4/23/88 vs. NYM), and first Cardinals pitcher Todd Worrell (7/30/86 at PHI), to register a triple as his first Major League hit...Named a PCL Mid-Season All-Star with Memphis (AAA), going 9-4 with a 2.24 ERA (96.1 IP) and 110 strikeouts in 19 games (18 starts) over four stints...Struck out the side in a scoreless inning of work (15 pitches) in the Triple-A All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio (7/11)...Ranked 15th in the PCL and 2nd on the Redbirds in strikeouts...Also led the Redbirds in ERA, and finished 3rd in starts and innings...Limited PCL hitters to a .197 average (69-350), including a .177 mark against right-handers (35-198)...Pitched at least 6.0 innings in seven starts (six quality)...Threw at least 100 pitches in 10 starts...Hurled a one-hit, complete game shutout (7/15) at Omaha (AAA-Royals)...Struck out five, walked two, and allowed a double to Ramon Torres in the second inning...Recognized as the PCL Pitcher of the Week for the July 9-15 period, and the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Month for July: 3-0, 0.00 ERA, 20.0 IP, 20 K, 3 GS....At the time of his recall and second promotion to St. Louis (7/23), ranked among PCL leaders in ERA (2.15, 2nd), wins (9, T2nd), strikeouts (103, 3rd), batting average (.198, 1st), and WHIP (1.24, 3rd)...Named MLB Pipeline's Cardinals Pitching Prospect of the Year following the season.
Made six starts for Memphis (AAA) holding the opposition to one run or less in all but one, in which he allowed three runs... Struck out a season-high eight batters vs. Colorado Springs (4/11) in his first start of the season... Was struck by a line drive off the bat of Iowa's Victor Caratini in the second inning of a game on May 9 at Principal Park in Des Moines. Was removed from the game and taken to the hospital for emergency brain surgery to relieve pressure. Missed the remainder of the season... Resumed a throwing program in August and re-joined Memphis team in September as a spectator for their pennant run... Threw out the honorary first pitch to manager Stubby Clapp prior to Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League playoffs on Sept. 6... Faced live hitters in late September as part of the rehabilitation process... Received the Bob Bauman "Physical Comeback Award" from the St. Louis Baseball Writers at their January 2018 Awards Dinner.