Delino DeShields, Jr is fast. Actually, he is very fast. And the second baseman is also very capable of stealing some bases.
But there are two main questions associated with DeShields. The hope is that perhaps some progress on both fronts can be made in the Arizona Fall League.
DeShields’ speed is useless if he cannot reach first base to utilize it. And he is currently a player without a position as Jose Altuve just signed a four year contract extension to play second base and recent draftee from Vanderbilt, Tony Kemp, is nipping on his heels. So this fall, DeShields will be playing outfield for the first time in an attempt to become more versatile. He also has had his issues defensively so far in his professional career.
2012: 135 games (A and High-A), 101 SB/19 CS; 2013: 111 games (High-A), 51 SB/18 CS
There is a clear regression here for DeShields. I am thinking that the higher level had something to do with that, but this was his third full professional season (he appeared in 18 games in 2010), so that should not be an issue at this point. He needs to be able to steal bases at a high level based on his speed, or else his value is diminished. After last season, I’m sure Astros’ fans thought they had another Billy Hamilton on their hands, but this season made me doubt that some.
2012: .237 BA/.288 BABIP; 2013: .317 BA/.387 BABIP
So in a season where DeShields hit .080 higher, he also stole 50 fewer bases. To me, that is a big difference. I do understand that part of the reason he ran that much less was strategic, but it is something to also be concerned about. If you are to project his batting average for next year solely based off of the last two years, my expectation is that it would fall somewhere between the two seasons.
There is some intrigue here to see how DeShields does this fall. The natural step is for him to progress to AA next season, and he can get a good start on that in Arizona.