Young Dodger Shortstop Off To A Great Start

If you happen to be one of those who checks the minor league box scores each day to see how the prospects are doing, then you've probably looked at those for Ogden in the Pioneer League, have seen the average listed for Ivan DeJesus, Jr. who just reported there and observed, "Hmm, .351. Not bad." No, it's not bad at all but it's not right, either. He's doing even better -- .462 to be exact.

You see, this year organized baseball signed a contract with a new outfit to record statistics in the minor leagues -- all of them, every league (with the exception of the Dominican Summer League, which goes its own way). They seem earnest enough but they're obviously novices in some ways. One of the more annoying things they insist upon doing is combining stats for two leagues at the same level. So, when Jamie Hoffmann and Travis Denker were moved from Columbus to Vero Beach, these guys say they took their previous accomplishments with them.

That's not the way it's always been done. What a guy does in one league stays there and he starts anew in the next. Oh, they acknowledge that when he's moved up or down so the figures you see for Andy LaRoche in the Southern League are correct and don't include his Florida State figures. However, since DeJesus went from the Gulf Coast, a rookie league, to the Pioneer, another rookie circuit, they say he takes his batting average, hit totals, etc. with him. So, when he hit his first double for Ogden, they duly noted it as No. 6.

Ivan might not mind since he did quite well in the GCL and is off to a great start with the Raptors. The move was in keeping with one dictum of the Dodger system -- when they're succeeding, challenge 'em. Not so with another thought -- that they'd go slow with kids out of high school because in the past few seasons, those they've thrown into a rougher environment tended to flounder.

DeJesus though has responded well -- at least, in the early returns. He certainly gave every indication in the Gulf Coast that he could be a special prospect, one worthy of his early selection. He was taken with Seattle's second-round slot, the one the Dodgers gained when the Mariners signed Adrian Beltré.

During his time in the Gulf Coast, he demonstrated a precocity in the field, making plays in a manner that someone older than his 18 years would. He showed range, and hands and feet actions of a pure shortstop. He also made the long throw from the hole more than satisfactorily, something that some scouts had questioned he could do.

At the plate, he has a good approach with quick wrists to take advantage. He has doubles power right now; whether he'll produce the long ball depends upon his growth factor. He's currently listed at 5-11, 176.

That he's much more polished than the usual novice will probably be attributed to the fact that his dad, Ivan, Sr., knows well how to play the position having done so at the big league level for a number of years. Ivan, Jr. agrees. "My dad has been there for me every step of the way." He, then adds an addendum, "My mom always has, too" The young DeJesus has seen his dad play, "In Puerto Rico. Not in the big leagues."

There's another person just about every young Puerto Rican coming into pro ball these days can thank. That's Edwin Correa, who once was a coach in the Dodger system. Edwin received a large settlement from the Rangers after their doctor messed up his arm surgery, brining an abrupt end to what had begun as an extremely promising career. Now back home in his native Puerto Rico, he was dismayed by the fact that high schools there don't field baseball teams. So, he started an academy where kids can get instructions.

Young Ivan is a graduate of that school, and his aptitude for the game shows on almost every play. Oh, he'll make the youthful error of hurrying a throw every now and then but the talent is shining through. In any case, he was hitting .339 with a .389 on-base mark that prompted his rapid promotion.

Yet, those figures you see displayed daily aren't quite right. The player, however, very definitely is.

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