by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Over the course of his career the Cardinals’ Paul DeJong has seen the bulk of his playing time at third base, though this season he’s been utilized more at shortstop (20 games) and he’s also seen time at second base (3 games). It’s an interesting development, considering the makeup of the infield. Could the team be preparing for Jedd Gyorko to assume full-time AB, with DeJong stepping in to a utility type role?
Perhaps, or they want DeJong to be prepared to step into any void (though they said prior to the season that the plan was for him to see the bulk of his AB at shortstop). Regardless of what their visions are, his bat appears primed to play regardless of the position. Over 90 AB he’s hitting .300 and showing great extra base power (8 doubles, 5 HR). After racking up 53 extra base hits a year ago, there’s a lot to like. The big question is if he’s going to be able to improve his command of the strike zone:
- Double-A (2016) – 26.1% strikeout rate, 7.2% walk rate
- Triple-A (2017) – 28.4% strikeout rate, 3.2% walk rate
For every level he’s advanced the strikes have jumped while the walks have fallen. That’s definitely a concern, especially as he prepares to face MLB pitching. That’s not to say that there isn’t hope for an improvement. As MLB.com said prior to the season:
“While he is aggressive at the plate, which does lead to high strikeout totals, he did cut that rate considerably as he made adjustments. With very good strength and bat speed, his power is legitimate.”
You can see the adjustment he made between the first and second half:
- Pre All-Star Break – 254 AB, 85 K
- Post All-Star Break – 242 AB, 59 K
It will be interesting to see if DeJong can make a similar adjustment as he acclimates himself to Triple-A pitching. It will say a lot if he can, as he clearly has some pop in his bat and has the ability to play all across the diamond. He has the potential to be another Gyorko type performer (in ’16 he hit 30 HR with a 21.9% strikeout rate), and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Current Grade – B-
Upside Grade – B
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, MLB.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: