One of the biggest stories out of Rangers camp this spring has been the breakout performance of outfielder Delino DeShields. Has his outstanding hitting this March earned him an everyday role in Arlington?
The Texas Rangers have most of their positions figured out for Opening Day, but left field still remains a battle. Outfielders Ryan Rua, Jurickson Profar, and Delino DeShields have all been competing for that left field role this spring.
DeShields has become the favorite after hitting .316 with 18 hits, 14 walks, and 12 stolen bases this spring. He leads the Rangers in walks and stolen bases right now, and is tied with Rua for the lead in hits with 18.
Rua put together an impressive spring as well, hitting .327 with three home runs and 12 RBI. He only has one stolen base, and the speed factor could be what gets DeShields the Opening Day nod over Rua.
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The Rangers have been patiently waiting to see what DeShields can do after a breakout year in 2015 followed by a disastrous 2016 campaign. The 24-year-old has been inconsistent, but the Rangers see leadoff potential in him.
DeShields has something most of the other Rangers players are lacking and that’s a fierce speed threat. He has the potential to steal 30-40 bases a season, and could end up as the future in center field.
This upcoming season is a contract year for Carlos Gomez, and the Rangers would love to be able to put DeShields in center field full-time after 2017. There is a chance Gomez re-signs, but he’ll likely take the route of Ian Desmond and test free agency.
The good news for the Rangers is DeShields is not eligible for free agency until 2022. He could be the future in center field if this hot start to Spring Training and translate into the regular season.