This wasn’t exactly what Delino DeShields Jr. had in mind going into the 2016 season. It probably felt like a fastball to the face.
After being named the Texas Rangers Rookie of the Year in 2015, DeShields showed promise as a player that just happened to fall into the Rangers lap. He was selected in the Rule 5 Draft from the Houston Astros during the 2014 Winter Meetings.
DeShields went on to lead the A.L. with 12 bunt hits and was tied for fifth with 25 stolen bases. He was in the Rangers starting lineup for 107 of the final 137 regular season games, leading the team with 10 triples and was second in runs scored with 53. DeShields was also named the AL Rookie of the Month for May.
But a slow start to the 2016 season sent DeShields back to the minors. He started the season with a .217 batting average with 32 strikeouts in 106 at-bats. Problems at the plate and in centerfield led to DeShields being optioned down to Triple-A Round Rock, where he’s hitting .257 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 48 games for the Express.
So where did it go wrong?
DeShields was playing a relatively new position in center after spending time as a middle infielder in the Astros organization. His speed made up for a lot of mistakes reading the ball off the bat, but it still continued to be an adventure. Add in the fact he wasn’t productive at the plate, while Ian Desmond started getting hot and rookie Nomar Mazara continued to make a major impact in the lineup. The numbers game didn’t play in DeShields’ favor, so the Rangers decided to send him to Round Rock for more work with Desmond taking over at center in Arlington.
The bright side is DeShields is still young (23) and has the athletic ability and room for improvement. Toughness isn’t an issue either. DeShields was hit in the face by a pitch in Frisco when he was with Corpus Christi, the Astros Double-A affiliate. He suffered a sinus fracture but was able to walk off the field under his own power.
The Rangers could also use DeShields on the trade market. Yes, he’s still young but the Rangers are loaded in the outfield and at middle infield from Arlington on down to Class-A Hickory. There may not be a roster spot for DeShields to slide back in. That’s the reality of the situation.
But for now, DeShields continues to put in work at Round Rock.
Written by C. James