Leonel Nunez is a professional baseball player from the Dominican Republic who plays as a pitcher. Nunez was picked by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000 as an unrestricted free agent. He played in the Pirates organization for 4 seasons and was a starting pitcher.
In 2004, towards the end of the year, Nunez was traded out to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Benito Santiago. Nunez underwent a change of role at the Royals and was converted into a relief pitcher. He began 2005 with the High Desert Mavericks in the A-Division before being promoted to the AA-Wichita Wranglers despite a 9.00 ERA in 8 games.
Nunez was called up to the Royals on the same day he received his promotion to the AA-League. Ambiorix Burgos, Andrew Sisco and Nunez became the first three pitchers in the history of the MLB to be rookies who threw at least 50.0 innings without making a single start. Nunez ended the season with a 3-2 record after 41 games and with a 7.55 ERA.
In 2006, he was sent to the AA-League again and split his time in the AA-League, the AAA-League with the Omaha Royals and at the Majors. His seven Major League games came at an ERA of 4.73. He was moved back to the position of starting pitcher in the 2007 season.
In 2007, Nunez was traded out to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Milton Bradley but Bradley was injured at the time and that led to a collapse in the deal. By 2008, Nunez was moving again, this time to the Florida Marlins where he became the closer for the 2009 seasons after Matt Lindstrom was placed on the disabled list in June.