Taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2015 Draft from Illinois State, Paul DeJong (pronounced dee-YONG) profiled as a potential power hitter with a defensive history at several positions.
The Cardinals stationed the now-23-year-old at third base with the Class-A Peoria Chiefs following a brief introduction to the Appalachian League that proved DeJong was too advanced for rookie-level play. After ranking in the top five in the entire system in all four slash categories in 2015, DeJong joined fellow early-round college draftee Harrison Bader in jumping over the high-A level to open the 2016 season.
With Springfield, DeJong got off to a slow start, but by mid-season, the right-handed hitter was named to the Texas League All-Star Game. When the season concluded, DeJong was second in the entire Cardinals system in home runs with 22 and third with 73 RBI. Of course, no developing player is a finished prospect, with his weaknesses including a free-swinging approach as evidenced by his 26.1 percent strikeout rate against a walk rate of just 7.2 percent.
Not unlike many future professionals, in his youth days, DeJong was a regular at shortstop, where most of the top athletes on their team played – at least when they were not pitching. The Cards tried him at the position for 11 games at Springfield this summer and have continued the experiment in the Arizona Fall League.
DeJong was already a top-20 prospect in the system, but if he shows major league-quality defense at shortstop, his future could be even brighter. Next up should be his first-ever big-league spring training camp invitation, followed by a regular spot in the middle of the Triple-A Memphis lineup.
From the AFL, the Orlando, Florida native discusses all of the above and more.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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