DeShields exceeds own expectations before promotion

DeShields exceeds own expectations before promotion

DeShields exceeds own expectations before promotion
Delino DeShields Jr. wasn't too shy to admit he had set some lofty goals for himself entering this season. He wanted to finish with a .280 batting average, swipe 75 bases and score 85 runs, all of which would have made for a successful year at Class A Lexington.

When the Astros promoted DeShields -- their first-round pick (eighth overall) in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft -- to Class A Lancaster last week, DeShields had reached those goals, and then some. He left Lexington with a .298 batting average, 83 steals and 96 runs scored, to go along with 10 homers, 52 RBIs and a .401 on-base percentage.

DeShields, who turns 20 years old on Thursday, will finish out the season at Lancaster with a chance to compete in the playoffs, which would cap a fantastic 2012 campaign.

"I just want to do well here, and show people that I can play at a high level and finish out the year good, you know?" DeShields said. "We're in the running for the playoffs right now, which would be kind of cool. It would be the first time I get to play for something."

The Astros are thrilled at the progress DeShields made this season. He was sent back to Lexington for the second year in a row, but he was still one of the younger players in the league this year, and he dominated at his position.

"He's proven to us he's an elite prospect, and has a very, very high ceiling," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We want players to dominate the leagues they're in before they move to the next level. He hadn't quite done that yet [in 2011], and we didn't want to do a social promotion -- just promote him because it's the next year and that's what other people do. He's absolutely earned it."

In his first full season in pro ball last year, DeShields hit .220 with nine homers, 48 RBIs and 52 stolen bases in 119 games at Lexington. For DeShields, the 2011 season was more about learning to play second base -- he was an outfielder in high school -- and adapt to the rigors of a full season than putting up numbers.

"I was just putting everything together," DeShields said. "I feel I'm a better second baseman now. A lot of the stuff I was learning last year is like second nature to me now. I don't even think about it. It just kind of happens. There's still a lot I need to learn and progress on, but from last year to now has been a big improvement."

With DeShields on a path to reach the Major Leagues in the next year or two years, the Astros could soon have a decision to make about second base, where All-Star Jose Altuve is entrenched as the starter. The Astros recently moved Jimmy Paredes to the outfield at Triple-A Oklahoma City because of Altuve's stronghold on the position.

"We can't try to outsmart ourselves," Luhnow said. "It's a good problem to have, and we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. What ideally we want to do is put the player in the position he's most apt to be successful, irrespective of where everybody is in our organization.

"If we get to the point we have two guys up here and they're blocked, or one guy here and one guy [at Triple-A], maybe then you make an adjustment. That's how we're going to approach it."