José DeLeón, MLB veteran pitcher who led NL in strikeouts in 1989, dead at 63


José DeLeón, a former MLB pitcher who played 13 seasons in the big leagues across five teams, has died after a battle with unspecified health issues. He was 63.

DeLeón passed away Sunday at a hospital in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, his Dominican Winter League team Los Leones del Escogido said. The team added that DeLeón was battling health issues without giving further information.

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Jose DeLeon throws

Pitcher Jose Deleon of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Angels at Anaheim Stadium in California. (Getty Images)

The Dominican Republic native who played high school baseball in New Jersey made his MLB debut in 1983 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would make at least 25 starts in most of his first 10 seasons in the majors. He led the National League in strikeouts in 1989 for the St. Louis Cardinals with 201.

But as the 1993 season wore on, he found himself coming out of the bullpen more. He appeared in 35 games and only made three starts between the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox.

He spent the last three seasons of his career as a reliever.

Jose DeLeon with Pirates

Jose DeLeon of the Pirates pitches at Three Rivers Stadium in 1985 in Pittsburgh. (George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

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DeLeón played for the Pirates, Cardinals, White Sox, Phillies and Montreal Expos from 1983 to 1995. He finished his career with 1,594 strikeouts in 415 career appearances.

He made only one postseason appearance – coming in 1993. He allowed one run in 4.2 innings of work across two games. He struck out six.

Jose DeLeon with White Sox

Jose DeLeon with the Chicago White Sox in 1995. (Ron Vesely/Getty Images)

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“Saddened to learn of former @MLB RHP Jose DeLeon’s passing over the weekend at age 63,” Dan Evans, a former White Sox official, wrote on X. “We were together for five years with the @WhiteSox. He was consistently a kind person with a great smile. Oh my, he had plus-plus fastball life and was so versatile.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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