(Photo Credit: Tulsa Drillers)
Based on recent performances, the Double-A Tulsa pitching staff could easily stake a claim to being among the top rotations in the entire Texas League. The big four starters — Chase De Jong, Scott Barlow, Brock Stewart and Trevor Oaks — have each eclipsed the 30 innings pitched mark, and own a combined 2.21 ERA and 1.02 WHIP between them.
And the crazy thing is, just to illustrate the insane pitching depth of the Dodgers‘ farm system, the aforementioned rotation has the likes of Julio Urias, Jose De Leon, Zach Lee, Jharel Cotton and Ross Stripling charted ahead of them in terms of advancement. And that’s not even including Grant Holmes, Yadier Alvarez or Yaisel Sierra.
A big part of the Drillers’ success this season has been De Jong, who leads the club with nine starts and 50 innings pitched. He’s already punched out 49 batters on the season, and boasts a 2.70 ERA, a respectable 0.92 WHIP and a .176 opposition batting average.
In his latest start on Tuesday, dominant pitching took center stage as Tulsa blanked Frisco, 3-0. De Jong completely owned the RoughRiders, throwing seven full innings, having surrendered no runs, no walks and only two hits while striking out six batters. Even more impressive is the fact that Frisco owns the Texas League’s best record.
Just six days earlier in the first leg of a doubleheader at Springfield, the 22-year-old righty had almost a near-identical performance. The first game was shortened to only seven innings, and De Jong went the distance while being credited for the complete game shutout. He walked two and allowed two hits while fanning seven Cardinal hitters.
Going back even further to May 5, he tossed seven innings against Arkansas, allowing only one hit and a walk while striking out eight. The only imperfection of the entire month came against Springfield when he gave up two earned runs and lasted only four frames.
In his four starts in the month of May, he has a 0.72 ERA and has allowed only eight hits and two earned runs in 25 total innings of work.
“Preparation for my next start begins the very next day after I pitch. I build off of the good I had in my last outing and I try fix the bad stuff,” De Jong said. “I look at video days before I face a team and start to think about how they are going to approach me and how I’m going to disrupt the timing of the other team when it’s my turn to start. I really enjoy that process almost as much as going out for a start and competing.”
Many scouts believe that with his pitch selection, his maturity, his remarkable command and his solid mechanics, De Jong may have the ceiling of maintaing a number three or four spot in a big league rotation. If he was in any other organization, he’d probably already be holding down a back-end, major league starting slot.
In the meantime, De Jong will continue to focus on the moment at hand and strive to perfect all that’s under his personal control. If his history is any indication of his current work ethic, Chase will carry on successfully while sustaining advancement through the Dodgers’ organization in rapid fashion.
Even with the Dodgers’ current wave of pitching talent at the Triple-A level, don’t be surprised if you hear De Jong’s name being added to the big league roster in the very near future.