When the average fan considers the wealth of talent in the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ farm system, Chase De Jong usually takes a backseat to the higher profile pitchers, but as the accolades continue to accumulate in 2016, the 22-year-old righty is distinguishing himself as one of the more promising starters in the organization.
In his most recent honor, De Jong was named Texas League Pitcher of the Week on Monday after throwing a complete game, two-hittter against the Arkansas Travelers last Friday. He allowed only two walks while striking out seven in the contest, en route to earning his 10th victory of the season.
With the win, De Jong joins Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw, former Drillers‘ teammate Trevor Oaks and 21-year-old righty Andrew Sopko as the only pitchers in the franchise to record double-digit victories so far during the 2016 campaign.
For the year, De Jong has tallied a 10-4 record with 100 strikeouts, a 2.59 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and a .188 opponents’ batting average in 19 starts over 111 innings of work.
Last month, De Jong received recognition with 11 other Tulsa teammates as being named All-Stars, and participated in the Texas League All-Star Game along with eight of his fellow Driller comrades. Oaks, who was promoted to Oklahoma City, Kyle Farmer, who was suffering a foot injury, and Brock Stewart, who made his MLB debut that week, were also selected but did not play.
And, showing he could do a few clever side tricks with the best of them, De Jong revealed on social media that he could handle six baseballs at once in a right-handed grip, pulling it off with a little bit more ease than Kershaw did:
In an interview last May, De Jong told TBPC that he prides himself on his work ethic and that his preparation in the days leading up to his starts has been a huge key to his recent success.
“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 explained. “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.
De Jong was born in Long Beach and attended Woodrow Wilson High School. As a senior at Wilson, he posted a 0.82 ERA over 76-2/3 innings pitched, surrendering only 35 hits while striking out 103 batters. Although he committed to an athletic scholarship at USC, De Jong was chosen in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Last summer, the Blue Jays traded De Jong and infielder Tim Locastro to the Dodgers in exchange for three international signing slots.
Coaches and executives were very impressed with De Jong early on, eventually awarding the 6’4″, 205-pounder with a non-roster invite to 2016 spring training with the Dodgers.
“Attending my first major league camp was incredible. Such an amazing blessing and an opportunity for which I’ll always be thankful,” De Jong said. “To be able to wear the Dodgers uniform I’ve been seeing since I was a kid growing up in Long Beach, it was quite literally a dream come true.”
As far as his pitching repertoire, he features a four-seam fastball with a bit of movement that sits in the low-90s, a slider, a changeup and a plus-plus curveball.
In pursuit of his 11th win, De Jong will take the hill again on Wednesday night in the series finale against Springfield at ONEOK Field. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. local time.