Deshields vs. Fontana

J. Meric

It has been conventional wisdom that Deshields has mildly disappointed this year, while Fontana has been humming along like Fontana does. This perception largely took place in April, when Fontana looked like he belonged on the MLB club and DDJ was ho-hum. Both players have had nagging injuries and have missed a dozen games or so. A closer look at the numbers shows a much rosier picture for DDJ, and a less sunny picture for Fontana.

DDJ started off hitting .250 in April. He's been .280 or above in every month since, and his 6 for 12 in July. He's also regained his mojo on the base baths, stealing 9 for 10 in the 12 games since the All-Star break, after a pedestrian 16 for 26 in 52 games prior. His .OPS is now hovering around .800. His recent hot streak has been at home, so his #s look better there, but in the peripherals it doesn't seem like the Lancaster effect is helping him. 5 of his 7 triples are at the Hangar, but otherwise he has shown less power in A+ than he did in the Sally.

He did win the Postseason MVP last year, but DDJ seems like a classic "slow but steady learner." There was some talk he'd start in Corpus. I think Luhnow saw that DDJ would be overmatched there. Maybe he'll get called up next month. But overall DDJ has transitioned well. I hope he hits more to the gaps in the next two months.

Fontana is showing a trend similar to last year; a slow decline over the season. Last year he started out above .300 in Lexington and ended up at .225. This year it's more of the same. He hit .365 in April, .241 in May, and .212 in June. Unlike DDJ, he seems to let the league catch up with him. He walked 26 times in April, and only 25 times since.

His .OBP skills are still elite but I think that teams are going to "make him earn his way on base." Unless he starts punishing teams for pitching him down the middle, I can see him struggling at the higher levels.

Fontana just turned 23. He's not old for the league. But I don't think he's flashed enough bat to profile as a starting SS. It will be interesting to see if Correa "laps" him and Jio in the next two years, or if they play him at 3rd when Carlos catches up with him in Corpus (maybe in June 2104?).

In sum, DDJ is still a clear-cut top 10 prospect, but probably won't stick in the majors until 2016. Fontana was on the fringe of the top 10, but would almost say he slides back this year on account of greater evidence that his ceiling isn't too high.

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