Although the news is not official at the time of this writing, it appears that the Los Angeles Dodgers will promote outfield prospect Jonny DeLuca to the big-league club in place of Trayce Thompson, who apparently suffered an oblique strain when he attempted to check a swing in Saturday night’s middle game against the Yankees.
Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic was among the first to report the news hours after the Dodgers suffered the 6-3 defeat.
At the time of his promotion, the 24-year-old DeLuca is hitting an impressive .292/.378/.952 with 14 homers and 11 doubles after splitting his time with Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City this season.
DeLuca is an interesting choice for a number of characteristics, specifically because his game gained some significant promise when he changed from being a switch-hitter to exclusively hitting from the right side of the plate a few years back. The other intriguing thing is that the 6-foot-0, 200-pounder has blazing speed. His range in the outfield is superb, as is his speed on the base paths, having stole 58 out of 63 bags over his short minor league career.
Despite having an average arm, DeLuca can comfortably and reliably handle all three outfield spots. Between Tulsa and OKC this season, the Thousand Oaks native has played 10 games in left, 16 games in center and 22 games in right field.
The Dodgers originally selected DeLuca in the 25th round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of the University of Oregon. In high school, he was a standout long jumper and sprinter at Agoura High in Agoura Hills, California. He received numerous track scholarships and was drafted in the 39th round by the Twins in the 2017 MLB Draft, but he decided to play baseball with the Ducks.
The Dodgers added DeLuca to the 40-man roster last winter to protect him from the impending Rule 5 draft. MLB Pipeline currently ranks the youngster as the 20th best prospect in the system.
According to MLB Pipeline, DeLuca “has gotten considerably stronger since turning pro and developed solid raw power that he maximizes by looking to pull and lift pitches. His pop also plays to the opposite field and he’s able to drive the ball without sacrificing contact.”
Although Thompson is an above-average defender, the Dodgers aren’t losing much on offense. In 87 plate appearances, he was hitting just .155/.310/.366, going 11-for-71 with five extra-base hits, all of which were homers.
It will be interesting to see where and how much the Dodgers use DeLuca, considering Mookie Betts, James Outman, Jason Heyward, Chris Taylor and David Peralta are all in the regular outfield mix. So far this season, DeLuca has a .409 average against southpaws and a .250 average against righty pitching, so my guess is we might see him gain some significant plate time against left-handed pitchers.