St. Louis Cardinals Prospect Watch: Paul DeJong
The 2015 draft marked a shift in draft strategy for the St. Louis Cardinals. This shift brought about some players that are moving quickly through the system.
Realizing that their system had depth, but a distinct lack of “power”, the St. Louis Cardinals addressed that with 2 picks in the 4th round. Outfielder Harrison Bader from Florida University, and 3rd Baseman Paul DeJong from Illinois State.
DeJong began 2016 with the AA Springfield Cardinals. The Baby Birds reside in Springfield, MO, home of the Missouri State Bears. DeJong was no stranger to Bears fans, having faced their team multiple times in the Missouri Valley Conference, which he led in Home Runs with 14 in 2015.
In a coincidental twist, Paul now plays his home games in what was once considered unfriendly territory. However, he did have some Cardinals ties in college.
"“About half (students at ISU) were Cubs fans and the other half Cardinal fans,” muses DeJong. “Same with the Blues and Blackhawks.”"
While getting off to a slow start in his first dozen games in Springfield, DeJong has now become a steady power source for the Cardinals. His slash line of a .238 Average, six homers, and 21 runs batted in suggests that through his first 34 games at the AA level, he’s beginning to settle in nicely against more advanced pitching than he’d faced in the past.
DeJong makes adjustments well, cutting down on his strikeouts dramatically over his last 15 games. He credits this to jumping on better pitches earlier in counts and adjustments in the timing of his swing.
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He had very good success in his first year of pro ball in 2015, hitting .288 with 5 homers and 26 runs driven in over 56 games. He completely skipped Advanced “A” ball in moving to Springfield’s active roster to start 2016.
Currently, Paul ranks as the number 18 prospect in the Cardinals organization. He was versatile in college, playing second base, shortstop, and third base, even mixing in a bit of catching while at Illinois State.
If and when he arrives in MLB, he projects to be an adequate 3rd baseman with an above-average arm. On the high side, I see DeJong as capable of a .280 average as a major league hitter (assuming his plate discipline continues to improve during his minor league progression.)
Next: Cardinals' MLB Draft Preview Part 1
He is capable of double digit home runs at the big league level as well. I’d best compare to a Pedro Feliz (during his prime years in San Francisco) on the high side of the spectrum — hitting for a higher average than Feliz did.
For more on Paul DeJong, check out our Editor Steven McNeil’s piece on Dejong in his Top Prospects series.