The Rangers have a new outfielder. He is remarkably exciting to watch. He has a wonderful baseball pedigree. He can play anywhere in the outfield. He is the kind of player fans love to watch. Josh Hamilton is back with the team too, but the outfielder in question is Delino DeShields. This second generation major league player follows in the footsteps and shares the name of his father. No matter how you feel about the return of Josh, and the opinions are clearly mixed, you are going to love getting to know Delino.
The Rangers selected in the Rule 5 draft last December. This former first round pick of the Houston Astros was left off the 40-man roster which meant he was fair game. The catch is he must remain on the Rangers 25-man big league roster or be offered back to the Astros. With what we have seen from him so far it is a safe bet that he will (remain on the Rangers) and he won’t be heading back to Houston.
Even as the player develops, so do his relationships with his new teammates. On a recent road trip with the team I wondered aloud if Delino was actually Prince Fielder’s shadow. “Oh that’s my man,” Prince said with a smile. “We come from the same place. I mean both of our dads played in the big leagues, so we have a lot in common.”
Buoyed by the friendships and the opportunity, Delino has begun to live up to the potential that inspired the Astros to take him in the first round. He has now started seven games in the lead-off spot and has made the most of the opportunity. During the seven game winning streak, DeShields had a six game hitting streak and during the month of May he ranks 7th in the American League with an OBP of .410. Getting on base more than 40 percent of the time is exactly what you want from your lead-off man.
Once on base DeSheilds is an instant threat and a game changer. He has nine steals in the month which ties him for second in the league. He has eleven for the season which is good for fourth in the AL. Back on May 7th he became just the second rookie in a quarter century to have three walks and three steals in a game. He accomplished the feat against Tampa Bay and became just the second Ranger ever to do it (Elvis Andrus did it back in 2010).
One of the best things about his emergence is that it will push Leonys Martin to be better. There is nothing like a little internal competition to light a fire under a world class athlete. There is no coasting when the footsteps behind you are loud and fast.
Jeff Banister says that both center fielders will get lots of playing time. Banny goes on to say that he loves Delino’s background, “When you grow up in a major league clubhouse,” Banister said. “You know what the game looks like, what the crowd sounds like and what to expect each and every day. Look at Prince, he is the same way.”
So as you decide how you are going to react to the Rangers left fielder, be prepared to have a positive reaction to the center fielder. You will cheer Delino’s speed, you will cheer when he gets on base – and once he does the fun really begins.