Another good day on Thursday will lead De Leon another step closer to what he wanted to accomplish during this year's Spring Training: "Make the team."
"I'm just working hard, competing," De Leon said.
Part of that work is the development of his splitter, a pitch he has yet to throw in a game. De Leon said he learned the pitch from Astros special assistant to the general manager Roger Clemens and tried it out during his stint with Double-A Corpus Christi last season.
"I tried, but I don't know, it was too hard," De Leon said. "I'm working it now."
De Leon's new splitter could potentially help him earn even more time in the Majors after making 11 appearances out of Houston's bullpen last season. He recorded a 5.40 ERA and put 19 runners on base in 10 innings of work.
He pitched his best baseball of 2013 during his stint with Triple-A Oklahoma City in July and August, posting a 0.60 ERA and striking out 12 in 15 innings of work.
After ending last season by enjoying some success in the Minor Leagues and earning his first appearance in the Majors, De Leon, has used the momentum towards improving in the offseason.
Once he gets healthy, De Leon can continue that journey. Asked how his splitter looks now, De Leon replied, "Better."
Joe Morgan is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.