Up next on our Dodgers 2016 profiles is Chase De Jong, a right-handed pitcher who was acquired last season for an international bonus slot and who is in his first major league camp as a non-roster invitee.
De Jong in 10 words or less
Local boy acquired by his hometown team.
Will the Dodgers find a better potential return on investment than De Jong?
Knowing they were going to blow past their international spending limit during this period, the Dodgers had no use for their four international bonus slots, and in two separate trades the club dealt them for four minor league players. The club got De Jong and infielder Tim Locastro from the Blue Jays for three slots totaling $1,071,300, meaning the Dodgers paid that much in bonus tax to add the two players.
"In the minor leagues we always say there are 29 other teams watching, but to actually feel that and see that the Dodgers had been watching me, it was humbling to think other teams do care about what you're doing."
Coming to the Dodgers, and specifically Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, De Jong was pitching 40 minutes from home in Long Beach, where he went to Woodrow Wilson High School.
De Jong credited Jays coordinator Sal Fasano for helping him iron out some deliberate mechanics after what he termed a "terrible" 2014. De Jong said Fasano helped him get more athletic on the mound. And helped his philosophy.
"Hitting is hard. Just throw strikes and make them beat you. I don't really walk guys, I hate that," De Jong explained. "One of my biggest pet peeves is giving away free passes."
De Jong was solid down the stretch for the Quakes, struck out 24.6 percent of his batters faced, and was their Game 1 starter in both playoff rounds, putting up a 1.42 ERA in helping Rancho Cucamonga to the Cal League championship.
"They must think very highly of me, and now I need to make sure I'm worth it, and that I live up to their expectations for me, and hopefully I set mine even higher."
-De Jong, on getting invited to big league camp for the first time.
One number3 The most career games pitched by anyone drafted from Wilson High School in Long Beach, De Jong's alma mater, by Steve Connelly. Far before the draft existed, Wilson HS grad Bob Lemon made quite a name for himself, winning 207 games as a pitcher and managing parts of nine seasons in MLB.
Should De Jong one day make the majors, he wouldn't be the first player in his immediate family to take the mound at Dodger Stadium. His mother, for winning Miss Paramount, threw out a first pitch before a game in 1979, presumably against the Cardinals.
Dusty Baker gave De Jong's mother a baseball, and she told her father (De Jong's grandfather) of a chance encounter with an unknown man on the Dodger Stadium elevator as she made her way to her seats.
"This man said, 'Hey did anybody sign it for you?' She said no, and she didn't have a pen, so without asking he took the ball and signed it," De Jong recalled. "She took the ball to her dad and said, 'This man signed my ball.'
"It was Stan Musial."
De Jong was a high school draftee in 2012, so he will need to be added to the 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
|20 (Class-A Lansing)
|21 (Class-A Lansing)
|21 (Class-A Rancho Cucammonga)
|2016 projections: Age 22 season
Double-A Tulsa will present the next challenge for the right-hander.
Be sure to enter your 2016 predictions in the comments below.