Prospect Retro: David DeJesus
David DeJesus was drafted in the fourth round in 2000, out of Rutgers. He signed too late to play in '00, then missed all of 2001 with an elbow injury. He finally got his career going in 2002 with a solid season in the Carolina League, hitting .296/.400/.434 with 48 walks and just 42 strikeouts in 334 at-bats. A late trial in the Texas League resulted in a .253/.347/.443 mark in 25 games, but overall it was a very fine debut, especially considering his rust. I gave him a Grade C+ in the 2003 book, but wrote that he was a sleeper and could end up as a regular outfielder.
DeJesus missed much of 2003 with more injuries, but was very effective when he played, hitting .338/.422/.479 in 17 games for Wichita and .298/.412/.470 in 59 games for Triple-A Omaha. He made his major league debut, going 2-for-7 in 12 games for the Royals. I made an aggressive call in the 2004 book, giving him a Grade B+, writing that he was one of the best prospects people hadn't heard much about, and would be a darkhorse rookie of the year guy, capable of hitting .280+ with a solid OBP.
DeJesus hit .287/.360/.402 in 96 games for the Royals in '05, then .295/.364/.446 in 2006, having some durability problems but being a very solid player. A down year in '07 was notable; curiously it was the only year when he didn't get hurt and played 157 games. He got into just 135 last year but hit .307/.366/.452. Maybe he just needs those 20 games off every year to be at his best.
When he was a prospect, I was impressed with his excellent BB/K/AB ratios, which turned out to be a positive indicator for his future. DeJesus is not an outstanding player, but he is a good one, and has turned out exactly as expected. He has weaknesses: he is stretched to play center field. His defense in left is very good, but he doesn't hit for as much power as the ideal corner man. He has never been an especially effective basestealer. Nevertheless, his OBP is an asset, he has enough power to keep the pitchers honest, he is a fine left fielder, and he plays the game with a lot of enthusiasm. For a very strong team he would fit best as a fourth outfielder, but he's been one of KC's bright spots in recent years, and is fun to root for.
PECOTA comps: Del Unser, Dave May, Mark Kotsay, Steve Finley, Ted Uhlaender, Bill Verdon, Darin Erstad, Russ Snyder, Darryl Hamilton, Matt Lawton. Others include Bobby Tolan, Joe Orsulak, and Rick Manning. Sim Scores bring up Roy Weatherly, Tony Gonzalez, Roberto Kelly, Jim Russell, Steve Henderson, Tommy Holmes, Ken Landreaux, Mule Hass, Kevin Bass, and Terry Moore. A lot of old school, throwback types on these lists, which fits.