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2023 Dodgers in review: Jonny DeLuca

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

Jonny DeLuca started this season in Double-A Tulsa and reached the majors by June. He spent nearly two months with the Dodgers as a reserve at all three outfield spots in the middle of the season.

Added to the 40-man roster in November 2022, DeLuca hit .279/.380/.590 with a 150 wRC+ 10 home runs in 32 games for Tulsa before getting promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City on May 16. He just kept going in Triple-A, hitting .315/.375/.548 with eight extra-base hits in 17 games. That made DeLuca the next player up when Trayce Thompson strained his oblique on June 3.

DeLuca’s major league stay was extended when Chris Taylor missed about three weeks with knee soreness.

DeLuca hit his first major league home run on July 4 against the Pirates at Dodger Stadium, just 33 miles from where he played baseball and excelled in the long jump at Agoura Hills High School. The home run was a go-ahead shot in the eighth inning that gave the Dodgers the lead, but Pittsburgh spoiled the fun with a three-run ninth.

The signing of Jake Marisnick during the All-Star break meant DeLuca was headed back to Triple-A, only to be called back five days later when Marisnick strained his hamstring. DeLuca didn’t actually play in the interim, dealing with a bit of a travel nightmare.

From Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic in July:

Optioned back to the minors on Friday afternoon, DeLuca’s flight Saturday to rejoin Triple-A Oklahoma City in Sacramento was canceled. Rerouted back to Oklahoma City, he arrived only to find his bags hadn’t come with him.

By the time DeLuca’s bags got there Tuesday evening, DeLuca had already been summoned into Oklahoma City manager Travis Barbary’s office. Marisnick had strained his hamstring, and DeLuca was headed back to the bigs. A 5 a.m. flight to Baltimore and another flight to Dallas on Wednesday night all but completed DeLuca’s travels.

Patience was a virtue for DeLuca, and not just his 10.7-percent walk rate in the minors this year.

He was active with the Dodgers active 36 games, but only started 10 games — five in center field, four games in left, and once in right. DeLuca played a lot in reserve, totaling 24 games, but only batted 45 times, slightly more frequently than backup catcher Austin Barnes.

Any kind of footing in the majors DeLuca might have gained in his second stint ended with his own hamstring injury, sidelined just a week after he returned.

Once the Dodgers acquired the multi-positional Kiké Hernández near the trade deadline, that all but ended DeLuca’s chances at playing time in the majors this season. His injured list stint ended on August 31, and he spent the remainder of the season in Triple-A.

2023 particulars

Age: 24

Stats: .262/.311/.429, 102 wRC+, 2 HR, 3 BB, 45 PA, 24 G

Salary: $720,000, pro rated for his time in the majors

Game of the year

DeLuca’s 29.7 feet-per-second sprint seed was the highest on the Dodgers, a shade under what is considered “elite” speed (30 feet per second) by definition of the metric.

That speed and athleticism helped DeLuca make two highlight-reel catches on July 21 against the Rangers in Texas.

DeLuca also singled in this game, hit a three-run home run the next day, and singled twice in the series finale to cap off a productive weekend in Arlington.

Roster status

DeLuca has 85 days of major league service time and two option years remaining.