Last season was not a good one for DeShields. He’s the fastest player on the team, yet he reached base only 31% of the time and scored only 52 runs. His struggles at the plate held him to only 20 stolen bases as well.
DeShields’ game-changing speed will always intrigue coaching staffs. But the weapon doesn’t do him much good if he can’t reach base.
The 26-year-old is expected to compete with another 26-year-old for the starting center field role in 2019. Texas’ #24 prospect, Scott Heineman, will enter camp with much anticipation from Texas Rangers’ nation. He performed in stellar fashion at Triple-A a season ago, slashing .295/.355/.429 with 11 home runs and 20 doubles.
With DeShields taking a giant step back last season, his fourth with the big league club, it may be time for some new blood in center field. If not Heineman, perhaps someone else. Texas is reportedly showing interest in free agent Adam Jones, so that’s a possibility to monitor as well.
Even if Delino wins the job out of spring training, that doesn’t designate him the full-time center fielder. His play will be under a microscope; the Rangers won’t be afraid to replace him if he’s not performing.
Plus, competition will only get steeper. At some point over the next two seasons, top prospect Leody Taveras will be making his debut in CF for the Texas Rangers. Therefore, the time is now for Delino DeShields to prove his worth to the team. Any indications of his 2018 season will have him on the pine.