Woodward Academy High School coach Jim Minor recently took the time to discuss his former standout Delino DeShields Jr., selected 8th overall in this year’s draft by the Houston Astros.
DA: I want to congratulate you on Delino being drafted.
JM: Well thank you. That’s real exciting to have a player chosen in the first round like that. It actually brought tears to my eyes, to be honest with you.
DA: Have you had any other players come out of Woodward?
JM: We haven’t had anybody come out in the first round. We had a catcher two years ago that was drafted, but he was drafted down in the 32nd round. His name’s Brandon Miller. He was drafted by the Red Sox.
DA: What has it been like to coach Delino?
JM: Well he’s a tremendous athlete and a tremendous player, and it’s been a pleasure to have somebody on your team like that. A lot of teams in our region, teams that know us, in his junior and senior year people tried to pitch around him. Which is smart, it’s what I would have done too (laughs). So a lot of times in ballgames people might throw him four straight balls and he walks, steals second, steals third, and manufactures a run. He had some big games for us where he’d hit a big home run, but a lot of times people tried to be super careful with him because he was a good hitter.
DA: Did you know that you had a special player from day one?
JM: When he was 12 years old, Baseball America picked him as the number one 12-year-old in the nation. Of course the history with his dad playing professional ball, we knew he was going to be something special all along. He’s got tremendous speed, tremendous strength. He’s just a well-rounded athlete.
DA: How excited was Delino to hear his name on draft day?
JM: I wasn’t really there on draft day. I called the family, his dad and mom, and of course Delino too, and talked to all three of them shortly after he was drafted. Believe it or not I was actually at a baseball practice with the summer team trying to get home to see it. I couldn’t get away from the practice. I really didn’t expect him to go quite that quick. But that was exciting.
DA: What can the Astros expect from Delino DeShields Jr.?
JM: I’ve never seen an athlete that has the type of acceleration and can run the way he can. He’s got tremendous speed, and I think he’s going to hit for average and power. I think they got a real, well-rounded player. I understand they’re planning on playing him at second base in the organization. He played third base for us his sophomore year, and probably had the best year at the plate he had in his career. He had about .590 his sophomore year, and then people found out who he was. They knew the name, but they didn’t know how good he was. Of course, people were pitching to him as a sophomore, then his junior and senior year people stopped pitching to him. He still hit .450 his senior year, so he still had a good year but not the type of year he had his sophomore year. So he played third base for us his sophomore year, then the next year we lost a real good center fielder and with his speed and all, we thought [Delino] would be a perfect match for center field. And he did well out there, but he didn’t really have a great feel for it, so we brought him back to third base for the second half of the season. And then his senior year he went back out to center field for us. He’s played a lot of places; he may have even caught when he was younger. He’s a good enough athlete where he can play anywhere on the baseball field. So I think [the Astros] have got a very versatile guy, and a guy with tremendous speed who I think is going to hit for both average and power as a pro player.
DA: What kind of influence has his father (former major-leaguer Delino Sr.) had on him?
JM: His dad was always around, at least for many years. His dad’s a great guy. He really knew the game, he’d come out and help us some. But he never interfered. He and I got to be great friends. You’d think maybe a major-leaguer would be pushy coming out to practice, but he’d just fit in and work with the kids. We were always on the same page. Delino’s junior year, his dad took a coaching job in Cincinnati, where he was an assistant with the rookie team (which he is now managing). So I think that hurt Delino a little bit not having his dad along, but it didn’t hurt him too bad because he got drafted in the first round! (Laughs) But his dad [being there] was always a plus. They’ve got a good relationship, and obviously his dad’s coached him all the way through, working with all his summer teams as he was coming up and all those kind of things.
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