Legends' DeShields — Catch him if you can

mmaloney@herald-leader.comJuly 13, 2012 

Sizing up Delino DeShields Jr. at a glance:

■ Age 19, bats and throws right-handed

■ Lexington Legends all-star second baseman

■ First-round draft choice (eighth overall) of the Houston Astros, 2010

"At a glance" seems only fitting in DeShields' case.

A glance is about all he'll let anyone have.

Through 85 games this season, DeShields has stolen 64 bases.

Although well off Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton's 105 steals, DeShields ranks second in minor-league ball.

He broke Josh Anderson's franchise record of 48 stolen bases on June 23.

So, get that glance. He might not be here for long.

A year ago, in his first full pro season, DeShields hit .220 and stole 30 bases over 119 games.

Consider, though, that he was the sixth-youngest player in the South Atlantic League and was also learning a new position, moving from center field.

Now, he's batting .281, has increased his on-base percentage to .386 (from .305 last year) and is significantly better in the field.

He has eight homers and 42 RBI, and leads the Legends in runs (70), triples (3) and walks (54).

"It probably has to do with me getting on base more, having a lot of confidence on the bases," DeShields said of his increased steals. "It's just something that I worked on during the off-season and it's paying off."

Legends Manager Ivan DeJesus, a former big-league shortstop, says that DeShields has improved his footwork throughout the season and is turning double plays with more skill. And he has this to say about his speed demon:

"I think Delino easily could steal 100 bases here. Like I say, get on base, know the strike zone better, cut down his strikeouts — if his OBP (on-base percentage) went up, he could steal 100 easy."

Anderson set his record in 2004 before earning a late-June promotion.

DeShields is eager to move up, too, but says he's focused.

"I can't control where I go," he said. "I can control how I play on the field. ... Yeah, I'm anxious for it, but I'm not going to get my hopes up. I'm just going to play hard every day here and see what happens."

Breaking Anderson's record provided DeShields with what he describes as the most fun he's had this season.

He was feted in the clubhouse with a pie to his face.

Delighted, he posted a photo to his Twitter account.

"Kind of really caught me off guard," he said. "Shaving cream everywhere. That was pretty fun. It was nice to get to experience that with my team."

Part of DeShields' life experience, of course, is growing up as the son of a big-league ballplayer.

Delino DeShields, now coaching with the Cincinnati Reds' Class A team in Dayton, played 13 years in the majors. Also a first-round draft pick (1987), the senior DeShields stole 463 bases in the bigs.

Father, who served as Hamilton's coach last season, helped son mostly with the mental aspect of pro ball.

"Of course, he did prepare me, the physical part — playing second base and hitting, and all that good stuff," Delino Jr. said. "But a lot of it was the mental stuff. The mental toughness to get through every day and not let a bad day discourage you."

With the same first and last names, father and son are unmistakably intertwined.

At times, that can be a burden to a young player trying to make a name for himself.

"But it's something that I have to get used to," Delino Jr. said. "You have to find something to kind of separate us. I don't really know what it is yet because we are similar in a lot of ways. But I haven't really even thought about it. I don't let it affect me."

One difference is physique. While dad's build could be described as lithe, Delino Jr. is a muscular 5-foot-9, 188 pounds.

By signing with the Astros (for $2.125 million), he passed on an offer to be a dual-sport athlete for LSU. There, he had planned to play running back for the Tigers football team, as well as baseball.

"I had to look at the big picture," he said. "I mean, I wasn't planning on playing in the NFL or anything. I just thought the whole college football thing would be just awesome. It wasn't God's plan for me. This is what I'm supposed to be doing."

Catch a glance while you can.

This is an endnote here an dhdjbfv jhbdvf djfbvjd vhbdfjv jdbvf jdfjbvh jvfjkdbfMark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service