The crushing blow into the center field fence inside Globe Life Park in Arlington was subtle, but for twenty-two year old Delino DeShields, it was an impression he strived to make before anyone had a chance of noticing.
DeShields, though, wasn’t supposed to become a star outfielder gifted with stellar speed and an undervalued sense of fortitude this early. In a general sense, DeShields’ patience and desire never took flight until he endured harsh growing pains first hand in the minors. Where he was forced to adhere to his mistakes, while adapting to change along the way.
This was back when DeShields was a sprouting star amidst the Houston Astros organization during the 2010 season. Then just 18, DeShields became the 8th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, seemingly all of his expectations set out for himself was deemed high. Almost something that in in return was soon to backfire. His father, Delino DesShields Sr. , spent 13 years as a major leaguer and is now the current manager of the Reds’ Triple-A Louisville Bats. By having gained recognition from his father’s astounding success as a professional, there was reason to why the pressure set on DeShields was so immaculate. Coming out of high school into the minor leagues, the comparisons of his fathers’ past speed and flair was already being made.
But expectations are only as good as the total product on the field, and at the time, DeShields wasn’t anywhere near meeting his lofty goals that everyone forecasted. Batting .220 and not a clue of where to turn to next, critics around the Astros management suddenly felt over-anxious and second guessed the decision of putting too much stock into such a young prospect.
“People were like, ‘Ah, he shouldn’t have been drafted in the first round, you’ll never be as good as your dad,’ that type stuff,” DeShields said.
Bounded by scrutiny, DeShields was determined to wash away his aforementioned mistakes with resounding success. DeShields came back to fight even harder in the spring of 2011, then his second year in the minor league system. He accounted for 101 stolen bases, his swiftness on the base paths led him to Minor League honors, one being named Minor League Player of the Year. Still, even with moderate achievement, bad misfortune kept creeping into DeShields’ life.
Two years later, the Astros did not want to protect their once prized-prospect no longer. As a result, Houston let go of the rights for DeShields in December’s Rule 5 Draft. Which is a winter meeting specifically designed for clubs to not overstock on young prospects. Again, dealt with struggles that were out of his control. DeShields kept a positive outlook.
Acknowledging “how baseball is a business”, DeShields said. DeShields than later looked at his next opportunity almost as blessing. “You have to have a lot of faith in yourself and not get discouraged when somebody loses faith in you. When the Astros didn’t protect, me, I was like, ‘OK, well, another door is going to open.'”
Another door did in fact open. Within weeks, DeShields was picked up by Rangers’ general manager John Daniels. Daniels saw increased potential in the once Rule 5 Draft pick. For Rule 5 Draft picks, they are required to stay on the team’s active Major League roster for an entire season. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team from which he was selected for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player. The way John Daniels saw it, Texas was coming off a last place finish in their division a season ago, and he could use any burgeoning prospect to help bring the franchise back to being competitive again.
Now being granted another chance for the Rangers in 2015. DeShields has developed into a player poised for promise. Whether he is playing at 2B or in the outfield, he has delivered majorly for a ball club, who was picked by many to finish in the bottom-half of the AL West.
After two months in, Texas has finally found their No. 2 hitter. For once, re-assurance can be brought back into manager Jeff Bannister’s control. Bannister, who has now seen seven different players manage the two-hole already this year. Believes that in hindsight, the twenty-two year old he saw light in early on, can now be a cornerstone for the franchise. Up to this point, DeShields holds a .276 AVG with 11 RBI’s, and a .378 OBP. Not only does DeShields’ overwhelming speed in the outfield and discipline at the plate provide incentives further down the road. The most seen attribute of his game, however, that gets lost in the moment is his sheer resiliency and enthused confidence.
“I used the term the other day, ‘We’re watching him grow up in front of our eyes,'” manager Jeff Banister said. “And we really are.”
For now, it seems, that DeShields’ past heartbreak has molded himself into a player who tries to capture every moment that occurs on his wild journey as a big leaguer. This moment came back on April 8th in Oakland, when DeShields got his first major league hit. His father was in the stands, watching how his son withstood every chaotic turn, to now reside as a starter in the majors. Once he saw his son get his first hit, he persisted on getting the ball for a keepsake on his shelf at home. In fact he already made room on his shelf devoted for his son’s milestone.
“To me, that just sums everything up that we’ve all been through,” said DeShields, who posted a .268 average split between stints with the Expos, Dodgers, Orioles, Cubs and Cardinals. “It’s been a lot of work, a lot of ups and downs. That ball was for daddy.”
As Texas is still trying to fly under the radar in their division. A key component is the ascent of Delino DeShields. Quite frankly, now that DeShields is earning more playing time and has reached increasingly more roles as a starter. DeShields’ mindset remains the same.
“My goal is to stay in the moment, because when I first came to an organization, nobody really knew that much about me, I opened some eyes and now I’m in the big leagues.”