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Thinking about Delino Deshields on a lazy Saturday - ratings whiff in the making?

Delino Deshields, Jr. was drafted pretty high (8th) as a very young tools guy (not quite 18 when drafted) at a thin position (2b).  He then performed well, putting up a 128 wRC+ in the GCLs in 73 PA.  His performance was buoyed by a .420 BABIP and came with a subpar BB/K split (7%/25%), but these were not especially troubling for a guy in his first exposure to pro ball after being drafted as a raw athlete.  

The pro rankers took notice.  Kevin Goldstein gave him 4 stars entering 2011, noting that "He gets strong grades for both his intelligence and makeup."  John Sickels gave him a B-, well in keeping with a raw new draftee with good upside.  And Baseball America said "His bat speed helps him catch up to the best of fastballs, and he has the strength to project to hit for average power," an uplifting hitting report for a guy who profiles as an 80 runner at a thin defensive position. 

Despite all this, Deshields received surprisingly little attention within the amateur community.  We don't talk about him much on here, and info elsewhere was mighty thin for a 19-YO prospected drafted 8th overall and who performed well in his first exposure to pro ball.  Try Googling "Delino Deshields Jr scouting report."  The effects were even noticeable in my own humble fantasy league, where Deshields became the first Top 10 pro position pick to not be drafted. 

So why bring up this background?  Because I think he's got all the hallmarks of an underrated, breakout candidate. Delino Deshields has prospect fatigue before even getting any buzz, thanks to a perfect combo of profile, exposure, and sophomore performance.  

High draft pedigree? Check.

Good scouting reports? Check.

Projected to take awhile to develop? Check.

Buried in a crappy baseball organization that plays in a low media market? Check.

Low buzz? Check.

Further buried by subpar sophomore season? Check.

 

So that's the background.  The foreground, in 2011, is that he jumped from the Rookie Ball to A Ball, skipping the NYPL, and put up a 79 wRC+ in his sophomore campaign. Not surprisingly, even less attention was paid to him.  Kevin Goldstein dropped him two full stars (ouch), and even the normally voluble, peripatetic Fangraphs has zero links to articles from Deshields' page.To top it off, he was charged with DUI in January.  Ouch.

But there's more between the lines.  He skipped the NYPL, while converting to 2B, which seems tough for exactly the kind of raw player Deshields was labeled.  His BB rate rose to a respectable 10%, while his K rate dropped slightly (22%), hinting at a potential for good OBP skills - a fine thing for a 2B with afterburners.  He didn't even turn 19 until near the end of the season, in August.  His speed appears usable, with a 75% stolen base rate. And there was even room to find mitigation within his numbers: Lexington's park factors slightly suppress singles and strongly suppress triples, both of which would disproportionately affect a player like Deshields.And his BABIP was low, at .274, which may or may not mean anything depending on the peripherals I don't have access to.

So what do we have?  Prospect fatigue on a high draft pick who struggled initially in a poor hitters park at an unusually low ARL, while skipping a level and converting to a new position and dealing with a DUI. His athleticism remains high, and he remains at least a year young for his level even by legit prospect standards.  Deshields is exactly the kind of guy who gets passed over by SNTS, and is strong breakout candidate in 2012. I am therefore beating Casejud to the punch and declaring him the community's first whiff of the 2012 ranking season.

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