The Life and Times of David DeJesus

Embed from Getty Images

Earlier in the week it was announced that former Kansas City Royal outfielder David DeJesus was calling it a career and was joining the Chicago Cubs CSN studio team for the upcoming season:

While some will remember DeJesus for his time with the Cubs, A’s or Rays (and most will forget his short stints with Washington and the Angels),  most Royals fans will remember his stint in Kansas City, where he began his career. I was always a DDJ fan, as he was a great defensive outfielder who got on base and for a period was an All-Star caliber player. More than anything, DeJesus was a steady performer that you could always count on, and I appreciated that. I thought about going in-depth into his career but instead thought it would be fun to go back and look at some career highlights, including this walk-off home run in 2008:

DeJesus wasn’t known for his power (only 99 career home runs over 13 seasons), but he did supply a bit of pop from time to time. DeJesus took that pitch in the heart of the plate and drove it off to win the game for Kansas City.

This isn’t a highlight but a nice look into a young DDJ who talked about baseball with his family as a kid. If you watched the Royals during the early 2000’s, you are aware of why they would need to put together a video like this to introduce their players to the fanbase, which was very small at that point. I had almost forgotten that David was the replacement in center field for Carlos Beltran, who was traded to Houston during the summer of 2004.

It feels a bit weird to post multiple home run videos from a guy who didn’t hit a bunch of them, but there was something else in this that shows what a solid batter DeJesus was. If you notice his swing, there is a slight uptick, but not much. For the most part that is a very level swing that he was able to get behind and take deep. He didn’t go out of his way to hit the ball out, but he would make you pay for a mistake pitch and knew how take advantage of a pitcher’s carelessness.

My favorite part of his game was defense. DeJesus wasn’t the fastest man, nor did he have the best arm. But he was a smart defensive player and right there you see a piece of that. He followed the ball, played the carom well off the wall and made a perfect throw into second base. DeJesus’ was best playing the corners of the outfield and he showed there how it’s not as much about how strong it is; it’s more about how accurate the throw is.

2010 was a big year for DeJesus, as he really came into his own, hitting .318/.384/.443. It was also his final year in Kansas City and his trade value that summer was never higher. Unfortunately for the Royals,  DeJesus would get hurt a little bit before the trade deadline and wouldn’t actually deal him until the following winter. It really felt at the time like the Royals missed out on a great opportunity to get a good haul for him, but alas would have to deal him to Oakland in November (for Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks. WTF?). Watching this video is a great summation of his talent; hit the ball where it’s pitched, nice easy swing and a dash of good luck. By this time he had become a very good player and was worthy of all the All-Star talk around him.

The other thing was that DeJesus was about as clutch as any player on the Royals at the time. It always felt like he knew when to try and drive the ball and when to just go with the pitch, as he drove that pitch into the alley in right center. DeJesus was a great fit for Kauffman Stadium; a solid gap-hitter with above average speed. Even better, that was against Kerry Wood who was still a very good pitcher at that time.

What a great couple of defensive plays right there? Us Royals fans are used to sparkling defense in left field nowadays, with Alex Gordon roaming out there, but I would put that catch up there with a good chunk of Gordon’s catches. The throw home was a great baseball play; good awareness, knew where the runner was at and made a perfect throw to home plate. You often hear it is always about the little things and right there is a perfect summation of that.

Finally, this wasn’t during his time in Kansas City, but I love the fun aspect of this. Here he is, just enjoying some ice cream during an extra inning game. It always felt like DeJesus loved playing the game and right there is a good sign of that.

Embed from Getty Images

I tend to always look back fondly at DeJesus’ time in Kansas City and how unfortunate it was that it ended too soon. He was a great story, a kid drafted in the 4th round of the 2000 baseball draft and in the majors three years later. There has already been some discussion on whether or not he should be in the Royals Hall of Fame, and I would lean toward yes. He played part of 8 years in Kansas City, hitting .289/.360/.427 and an OPS+ of 108. If you were a Royals fan during that time span (and even back then I watched 3/4 of the games every year), you knew there wasn’t always something to cheer about in Kansas City. But David DeJesus…he was worth every clap he ever received at Kauffman Stadium, and possibly even more.

The Royals Right Field Answer Might Be in Tampa Bay

David DeJesus

 

ed. note: Right after finishing this I found out DeJesus suffered a fractured left hand off of a check swing and was placed on the 15-day DL. I have not seen when they expect him back, although a guess would be 3-6 weeks, or close to the trade deadline. 

The Kansas City Royals are in first place and visions of playoff games and parades dance in our heads. The Royals are on an unprecedented streak of ten straight wins and it almost seems like the winning will never stop. Only it will stop, and when it does the Royals still will need to win the majority of their games to be contenders. With Kansas City (FINALLY!) being a contender, it only makes sense for the team to upgrade a few worry areas before the July trade deadline. With word coming out this week from GM Dayton Moore that the team would be allowed to add payroll to help out before the trade deadline, it appears the green light has been given to make those upgrades. Obviously the most pressing spots are right field and third base, but I’m pretty positive that Royals management still believes in Mike Moustakas and are giving him until (at the least) the end of the season. That leaves right field, as it has become pressingly obvious that Nori Aoki just isn’t cutting it. I like Jarrod Dyson, but the more he plays the more his flaws are in sight for all to see. So upgrading right field is a must, but the Royals also don’t have a lot to deal. Unless the team wants to part with a major prospect(which isn’t recommended) or a key part of the current roster(which will leave another hole) it appears Moore is either going to have to be creative or go for a player that won’t take much to acquire. There are some good option’s out there, like Chris Denorfia or Seth Smith both of San Diego, but I think a great option for Kansas City is in Tampa Bay at the moment and is familiar with the Royals organization. No, I am not talking about Wil Myers(I knew that is where everyone would go); I am talking about David DeJesus.

kc2

Let’s preface this with this little nugget of information; despite the Rays being in last place in the American League East and 13 games out of the lead, they still feel the majority of their roster is a championship team. So the Rays won’t be holding a fire sale, or a garage sale, or buy one get one free sale. What they will be doing is dealing a few players for other parts, guys like Ben Zobrist, Jeremy Hellickson and DeJesus. DDJ isn’t a major part of their offense and at 34 probably isn’t a major part of their future. That should make it fairly easy to deal for him. In my mind, a minor league arm or two should be all it takes to acquire DeJesus. It shouldn’t be someone like Miguel Almonte or Christian Binford, but maybe someone at AA NW Arkansas or A Wilmington. So a deal for DeJesus should be an easy one to work out for the Royals.

kc3

If the trade happens, I have to believe that you pencil DeJesus in as the right fielder and leadoff hitter. Now, he isn’t as fast as he was in his Royals’ prime, but that is to be expected at 34. The thing is, DeJesus never was a big base stealer, as his high for any season was 11 in 2008 for Kansas City. The Royals know what they would be getting with him, and that is a solid  above average performer. DeJesus’ numbers are up this year across the board, with his higher walk percentage(11.9%)and lower strikeout rate(5.7 AB per SO) really sticking out. You have to feel good that DeJesus might  not steal many bases or hit many home runs, but he gets on base and has always been able to smell out extra bases at Kauffman Stadium. Right now his OPS+, slugging percentage and OBP are way up over the last few years and is already halfway to last year’s extra base total. It appears that despite a little bit of regression over the last few years, DeJesus is performing smarter in 2014 and his numbers are greater because of it.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays

Now there are a few things for mild concern, as no player is ever perfect. DeJesus’ defense is just about average nowadays which is probably why he has been the Rays DH most of this year(37 games at DH compared to 15 in the field). He’s not quite a liability in the field(and probably still an upgrade over Aoki defensively) but he’s never possessed a strong arm and has obviously lost a step or two. The good thing is he was always known for being a smart fielder, knowing where he was at and where that hitter liked to place the ball. I’ll take a smart fielder any day over one that takes bad routes to the ball. DeJesus also won’t supply much power, but as long as guys like Gordon, Perez and Butler supply some that shouldn’t be an issue. DeJesus’ main job will be to get on base and be a veteran presence in the clubhouse.

kc5

Now it appears as if the Royals won’t make a move to upgrade until mid-July, so they will have some time to feel things out and see what direction they want to go. I personally would prefer a move sooner rather than later, but it seems as if a wait is in our future. I don’t expect a blockbuster move or one that shakes up the foundation of the team, but adding DeJesus to a clubhouse he is familiar with could really pay off. DeJesus is easily an upgrade over Aoki and can be had on the cheap. DeJesus also has another year on his contract, so acquiring him would also give the Royals their right fielder for 2015, as the team waits on Jorge Bonifacio to take over that spot. Add in his postseason experience and good clubhouse character and you have a guy who would make a perfect fit for this Royals team as they contend for a playoff spot. DDJ was never a guy who gained much attention but is the definition of a solid ballplayer and is probably one of the most underrated players in team history. Having him be a part of  the first Royals team to make the playoffs since 1985 seems like an appropriate role for a guy who played on some awful Royals teams. He might not be flashy, but he might be exactly what this Royals team needs.

 

Five Future Royals to Keep an Eye On

Kansas City Royals Photo DayMost of us Kansas City Royals fans have gotten used to a new prospect being called up over the last few years and bring excitement to the team(at least at first). Just within the last three years we’ve seen the debuts of Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura. The Royals are a small market franchise, so one of the things they will constantly have to do is develop homegrown talent and keep a steady stream of them running through their farm system. With that in mind, I thought I would give you a glimpse of a few of those prospects. Now, I won’t mention Kyle Zimmer(pictured above) and Adalberto Mondesi, Jr., probably the two top prospects in the organization. Both are discussed fairly often and look to be major cogs in the Royals machines in the near future. Instead, let’s look at some of the other prospects that haven’t been hyped nearly as much.

Sugar Ray Marimon

Sugar Ray Marimon

Sugar Ray Marimon isn’t just a guy with a cool name(although I will fess up to loving the name). Marimon isn’t rated as a top level prospect, as he is 26 years old(27 in September) and has been very average with most of his pitches. A full scouting report can be found here, and most of it reads that Marimon is questionable as to if we will even see him in a Royals uniform. Marimon has an average fastball(88-93 mph), a curve that has a sharp break(but he hasn’t been able to command it) and a change-up that could be pretty good but he seems to prefer the curve being his out pitch. To this point Marimon has been a starter, so one wonders if is moved to the bullpen he will add a few ticks to the fastball, improve on the curve and change and he could be a steady arm in the pen. There is quite a difference in velocity between his fastball and his two other pitches, so if he can show some improvement he could bump up to a bullpen job in the ‘bigs’.  Right now Sugar Ray is in AAA Omaha for Kansas City so there is only more step to take to the big leagues. He also is one of the few prospects at AAA right now which shows that most of the Royals prospects are still a few years away. Marimon might be a long shot, but I think he could improve on a few things and make a shift to the pen he would be a valued arm. He could be nothing of note or a surprise for the Royals; either way, time is running out for the man they call Sugar Ray.

 

Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Fall Stars Game

Jorge Bonifacio

If the name Jorge Bonifacio sounds familiar, it might be because he is the younger brother of former Royal Emilio Bonifacio. Or it could be because he is rated as one of the top prospects in the Royals farm system. Bonifacio is thought so highly of that it was said around the time of the Wil Myers trade that the organization had Bonifacio “rated higher” long-term than Myers. I’m still wrapping my head around that one. Here is what John Sickels of SB Nation had to say about Jorge:

Hit combined .298/.372/.429 at three levels with a good finish in Double-A. Hasn’t developed his power yet but hits for average, makes decent contact, has a good arm, and is just 20 years old. I think he’s a year away.

Obviously he has dealt with issues as well early in his career, including a broken bone in his hand last year, which can sap your power. His numbers were encouraging enough for Kansas City to bump him up to AA Northwest Arkansas late in the year, where he held his own. His body frame is an issue(or more bluntly, his weight) to at least keep an eye, but scouts don’t seem too worried about and continue to say that he should develop power as he goes along. The hope is that Jorge is ready to man RF for the Royals no later than 2016. At the least he looks like he would be a solid corner outfielder who can handle the bat quite well. Who knows if he will rival Myers, but the Royals don’t need him to. They will just need him to be a solid major league outfielder. That would be an improvement over the last few men who have roamed right field at Kauffman Stadium.

 

kc4

Christian Binford

Christian Binford is another young arm in Kansas City’s system that is currently pitching for the Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina League(A Ball). Binford was drafted in 2011 by the Royals has slowly been moving his way up the ladder in the lower portions of the minors. Binford has a very average fastball(sitting in the low 90’s) but that wasn’t what Paden Bennett at Royal Revival liked about Binford:

The thing that stands out to me about Binford is his exceptional command.  Command for a young pitcher is a very valuable skill to have and Binford has it.  He also keeps the ball in the ballpark with a career HR/9 of just 0.41.  You put his command and keeping the ball in the ballpark together and you have something to be excited about.  

A full scouting report on Binford can be found here and almost universally the thought is that Binford is on the rise and could see his velocity increase, as he is just a little over a year removed from the famed Tommy John Surgery. Binford seems like he is learning the art of pitching at an early age, which is a great sign for the Royals. Between his BB rate, his precision location and still a chance at more upside, it’s easy to see how Binford has moved into Baseball America’s top ten prospects for Kansas City. I wouldn’t be shocked if we see Binford in Northwest Arkansas before the year is out.

 

kc5

Lane Adams

Lane Adams is the 2013 George Brett Hitter of the Year, which goes to Kansas City’s top hitter in their farm system. Adams is an intriguing case, as you can tell from what mlbprospectwatch.com had to say at the end of this past season:

Adams is a man without a place.  He’s played more center field than on the corners in his career, but he’s been spending more time in left and right as he gets older and moves up.  He doesn’t have the power to be a productive corner outfielder, and while he has good speed, he doesn’t get on base quite enough to use it effectively, although his walk rate did jump up this season.  He has the makings of a tweener, but he can do enough things right that he could carve out a niche for himself.

The thing that kept popping up to me while reading that was “wow, that reads a lot like David Lough…who was a lot like David DeJesus…who turned out to be a really solid major leaguer”. No idea if that will ever happen for Adams, especially since reviews are quite split on his chances, especially since he would be considered an older prospect at 24 years old. There are concerns about his ability to make contact, as mentioned here by Joe Cox of Royal Revival:

The caveat in all his skills has been his inability to make contact at each and every level, which will not work for his skills at higher levels.  In 2014, it is likely Adams will get a good chunk of his at bats in AA.  I realize I have made this comment about quite a few of the prospects on this list, but this outfielder needs to make more contact to have a legitimate chance to make it as a role player in the big leagues

Although Nichoals Ian Allen did throw some positive Adams way:

There is less overall upside to Lane Adams than some of the younger outfielders in the system. The thing that excited me most about Adams is his ability to steal bases. Adams has 73 stolen bases as a professional, and is successful 82% of the time. He was 15-of-15 with Northwest Arkansas. The Royals like him and he will continue to be given opportunities to improve his stock – beginning with big league Spring Training in 2014. From there, it is likely he will spend the season in NW Arkansas and Omaha.

Adams won’t be a prospect at the level of Bonifacio or Myers, but there is always something to be said for guys who does a lot of things good and one thing(speed) great. We will probably start seeing the winds of change in the Royals outfield starting next year, and it’s possible we could see Adams name pop up as a guy getting playing time.

 

Miguel Almonte

Miguel Almonte

There is no prospect in the Royals system that has me more excited than Miguel Almonte. Almonte has jumped up most prospects lists and looks to have a higher ceiling than originally thought, as prospect361.com discussed at the end of last year:

When Almonte signed with the Royals out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 for $25,000, I doubt the Royals projected him to be one of their top prospects three years later.  At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Almonte is not your prototypical physical pitcher but has an arsenal that features a 92-94 MPH fastball that can touch the mid-90’s, two breaking pitches (with the curve ball starting to flash well above average), and his money pitch – a plus change-up that he commands with ease.

Add a few MPH’s on his fastball and that reads a lot like Yordano Ventura. He also doesn’t seem to be someone who looks like an injury waiting to happen:

His arm action is very clean as he throws with ease.  He has very good momentum to the plate which gives his fastball that much more life.  The balance and posture could be improved but overall the mechanics are matching the performance numbers he is posting.

Almonte has gone from a guy who would be a good major league reliever to possibly as high as a number two starter. Landon Adams at Royal Revival agrees on the Almonte love:

When it comes to Almonte the Royals have a seriously advanced pitcher considering the fact that he has logged just 130 innings in full season baseball. Almonte has shown excellent command. His fastball sits in the mid 90s and his changeup was called the best in the system by Baseball America. At this point he feels like a safe bet to reach his mid-rotation potential (by pitching prospect standards) and could feature even higher if he can develop a quality third offering. 

Sentiments are pretty much agreed by Dan Ware:

Almonte has flourished through the system, and won’t turn 21 until April.  He has a fastball that stays in the 91-93 mph range, but can hit 96 mph.  His changeup, ranked the best in the Royals’ system, sits around 82-86 mph, which is a solid difference in velocity compared to the heater.  What impresses scouts is the repition of his mechanics and his ability to keep his pitches low in the zone, which shows in his solid groundball rate of 45% and BB rate of 6.3%.

We Royals fans have seen very few top pitching prospects over the past twenty years develop into top arms, but with Ventura, Zimmer and now possibly Almonte, there is reason for optimism in the Royals pitching prospects in the not-so-faraway future.

 

kc7

That is just a taste of some Royals that are coming down the pipeline. There is still a chance that none of these guys could be factors, or all of them. What we do know is that the Royals have talent in the farm system and that is without me even mentioning guys like Jason Adam, Cheslor Cuthbert or Hunter Dozier. These are always fun to write, so there is always a chance a look to the future will happen again down the road. Now is as good a time to dream as any.

 

 

For the Love of God, Stop Bunting!

Chris Getz

Last night, the Kansas City Royals encountered a tough loss to division rivals, the Detroit Tigers. It was a back and forth game between the two ball clubs that saw the Royals leave a bunch of runners on base and ended with the best hitter in baseball, Miguel Cabrera, take Aaron Crow deep in the 9th inning to win  the game. Some Royals fans were outraged that Crow pitched to Cabrera instead of intentionally walking him. I was more outraged that the Royals bunted during the top of the inning with two outs and a runner on third.

Dan Wheeler

If there is one thing that I absolutely loathe about this Royals team(and thank goodness, there aren’t as many things to hate as say, last year) is that they consider bunting a big part of their game. Manager Neddy Yost loves bunting. LOVES it. The last couple years we’ve had to hear about how good a bunter Chris Getz is, even though he has failed to put down a bunt countless times and even injured himself trying to bunt. How many tweets have I seen this year that beat writer Bob Dutton has put out(tweeted out?)  talking about the team practicing bunting during batting practice? Too many. I sometimes feel like this team thinks it’s 1982 and there are still stadiums with AstroTurf on them. The honest truth is I used to not hate bunting so much. All we have to do is go back to 2010…

kc3

How many remember the 2010 Kansas City Royals? If you do, you remember that they didn’t have much punch on that team. That team had Billy Butler, Jose Guillen…and…and…well, Yuniesky Betancourt was tied for the team lead in RBI’s-with 78. This was also a team with Scott Podsednik and David DeJesus at the top of the lineup, so if this team relied a bit more on small ball, that was fine. The honest truth was that team probably wasn’t going to score much if not for small ball. It was fun watching this team built more around speed work that speed to their advantage and have a very good April, before they fell off the map later on in May. For that team, it made a bit more sense to use bunting as a weapon. But the last two years? Absolutely no reason to use it at all.

kc5

Now, there are a few times that bunting is acceptable and even the best course of action to take, but for the most part it isn’t, and the numbers prove it. If you are in the bottom of the eighth or ninth, and really only need one run, and you have a runner on first with no outs, a sacrifice bunt is acceptable. In fact the percentage chance of scoring one run actually goes up in that case. But if you aren’t playing for one run(and let’s be honest, you rarely should be), this is an awful choice, as your run expectancy goes down. Don’t believe me? Read here. For the most part, you should always be playing for more than one run, as only a fool thinks you should stop at one if you have a chance at more. Letting the batter go ahead and hit makes your chance of scoring go up and give you an opportunity to put more runs on the board. There is nothing more frustrating to me than seeing the Royals bunting…IN THE FIRST INNING!!! Everytime it happens, all I can think of is former Orioles manager Earl Weaver. Weaver once said “If you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get”. It might not be like that 100% of the time, but if you look it up, Weaver is right. Playing for one run just seems like a flawed theory and an easy way to have your team playing from behind.

kc4

There is one exception in my mind for bunting: if Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson wants to bunt, you let him. Hell, at times you force him to bunt. Dyson has ridiculous speed. Like ‘Herb Washington only pinch runs because he is a world-class sprinter’ type speed. There are certain players in the game that can use their speed as a weapon, and Dyson is one of them. He has game changing speed. Dyson is a guy who can bunt for a hit and even if the infield is in, will probably get it. So in this situation, I am fine with bunting. A speedster like Dyson can completely change the game plan of the other team or even worse for them, wreak havoc on a fragile pitchers psyche. In this scenario, let him bunt.

kc6

Unfortunately, the Royals don’t seem to use their bunting in correct or even logical situations. Alcides Escobar is guilty, especially when he was batting second, of bunting in the first inning. Second Baseman Chris Getz can barely get the ball to the outfield sometimes, so bunting is a big part of his game, and not always when he really should. I would like to say here that it is just a situation of the team not having guys who are good hitters, but it goes deeper than that. This organization loves bunting. The manager and the GM are on the same page, both heaping high praise on the players who bring bunting into the game. Well, unless you are Escobar. Then sometimes Neddaniel will throw you under the bus. But for the most part, they applaud the use of the bunt, and that is just as big a problem as the player who goes out there and thinks it gives them a better chance of scoring then standing in the box and actually trying to hit the ball.

kc7

So, are there times that bunting is not only acceptable, but should be expected? Of course. But for the majority of time, it should probably be discouraged and left for only certain situations or for certain players. I know the bunt used to be a big part of the game years ago, but the game is in a constant flux of change, and will for the rest of eternity. The numbers don’t lie and show that bunting actually hurts your team’s chances of putting runs on the board. The Kansas City Royals, a team that can’t allow for many mistakes, would be wise to learn a proper time to use the bunt and when it is detrimental. Bunting with two outs in the 9th and a runner on third? Not the right time. When that happens, a loss shouldn’t be a shock. I can only hope the Royals learn this lesson before it hurts them during a crucial time, like making a playoff push.       

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑