Woodward’s Delino DeShields could be first Georgia high schooler taken in MLB draft — $$$$$

Woodward Academy’s Delino DeShields will follow in the baseball footsteps of his famous father. But it was only after DeShields proved he could’ve taken another sports path, if he had wanted.

Which Georgia HS baseball player will be taken first in the MLB Draft?

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DeShields, the one-time college football prospect, and Cook pitcher Kaleb Cowart are candidates to be the first Georgia high schoolers selected in Monday’s major-league draft.

“I’ve heard rumors about where I might get drafted, but we’ll see what happens,” DeShields said. He said a “fair offer” with bonus money — and not where he is drafted — will be the determining factor on going pro or attending LSU on a baseball scholarship.

Baseball America’s mock draft has the Houston Astros picking DeShields at No. 19, while the Toronto Blue Jays (No. 11) and Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 28) are rumored to have first-round interest.

That’s pretty high for a guy who only four months ago was fiercely determined to pursue a football career.

Football has always held a special place in DeShields’ heart. It was a sport where he created his own success, far away from the baseball shadows of his father by the same name (he’s not a “junior” as they have different middle names), who played 13 seasons in the majors.

Last summer, the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder held college football offers from nearly a dozen schools, including Georgia Tech, Stanford, Ole Miss and Central Florida. Some schools liked him at tailback, while others recruited him at cornerback or wide receiver.

It's LSU or MLB for Delino DeSheilds (Photo courtesy of Woodward Academy)

It's LSU or MLB for Delino DeShields (Photo courtesy of Woodward Academy)

Before he reached a decision, some of the offers were pulled. “Football coaches told me that they were hearing good things about me from baseball people‚ and they were scared of losing me to baseball,” DeShields said.

After some soul-searching during the Christmas holidays, DeShields confirmed his passion for football and wanted to accept an offer from UConn. He would walk on the school’s baseball team.

“They [UConn] kind of put me on hold for a month,” DeShields said. “It got to be February, and I got tired of waiting. At that point, I just figured it would be easier for me to go to college on a baseball scholarship. I really wanted to play football, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”

His father was also a two-sport standout, signing a basketball scholarship with Villanova to play point guard. He opted for baseball after he was selected No. 12 overall in the 1987 draft by the Montreal Expos. The elder DeShields said he never pushed his son toward his baseball footsteps.

“As a father with raising my kids, I’ve always tried to help them find their own identity,” said the father, who manages the Cincinnati Reds’ minor-league team in Billings, Mont.

“Look what Delino did in football. That’s what I mean, that my kids are going to make their own way. And when it is all said and done, Delino is going to have his own identity.”

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DeShields (Photo by Brian Christian)

DeShields is the oldest of his father’s five children from two marriages. His sister, Diamond, led Norcross High School to the state basketball championship as a freshman last March and was named to Parade Magazine’s All-America team.

How do father and son compare as baseball players? “The biggest difference between us is that I was a ‘street kid,’ ” the elder DeShields said. “I grew up on the streets. Delino didn’t have that. But otherwise, I’ve taught him what I know about baseball.

“He’s a little better ballplayer than I was coming out of high school. He’s stronger‚ but I really don’t see many differences between us.”

While roaming center field for Woodward this spring, DeShields showcased his speed and arm strength. He was leadoff hitter for the College Park private school, leading the team in homers (9), RBIs (40) and stolen bases (29) while posting a .415 batting average.

“He is such a great athlete,” Woodward assistant Chris Reed said. “He can make things happen at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. He has the one intangible you can’t coach — speed.”

However fast DeShields might be, he hasn’t been able to outrun his father’s baseball shadows — just yet. He loves his dad, but said, “I really don’t like having the same name because people automatically think I’m only good because of that. Or they think I’m only getting looked at [by scouts] because I’m ‘Delino DeShields.’

“But what they don’t know is how hard I’ve worked to get where I am. The baseball scouts don’t care what your name is, only whether or not you can play the game. Next week, I guess we’ll find out what they really think.”

16 comments Add your comment

Dominique Foxworth

June 1st, 2010
4:22 am

First???????????

His dad was great so the bloodlines are there. Any chance he slips to Atlanta’s pick?

Michael Carvell

June 1st, 2010
5:00 am

@Dominique:The Braves gave up the No. 20 pick overall to the Boston Red Sox for signing Billy Wagner. On another note, if anyone has contact info for Cam Bedrosian, please email me at mcarvell@ajc.com

NEW CARS

June 1st, 2010
8:22 am

What local prospects do you foresee being available when the Braves have their sandwich pick?

Baseball Dude

June 1st, 2010
9:18 am

What about Niko Goodrum from Fayette? Will the Braves consider him?

intheknow

June 1st, 2010
9:41 am

What happened to Dale Carey?

Delbert D.

June 1st, 2010
10:24 am

Can’t he play football on a baseball scholarship? Does the NCAA count that as a football scholarship to prevent abuse of the system? Does Clemson’s QB count as a baseball scholarship also?

Ole...Ole, Ole, Ole

June 1st, 2010
11:04 am

Any reason why Jordan Akins isn’t a listed choice in the poll?

Dave Pernos

June 1st, 2010
11:11 am

UGA didn’t want or need this kid. Dawgs to the College World Series!

SB

June 1st, 2010
11:25 am

It’s still possible he could slip to the Braves in the second round. I’ve seen at least 5 mocks with him going after the first. Most of them have the Chevez and Kaleb kids going before him. I would love to get Chevez with our sandwich pick and Deshields with our 2nd round pick. Keep the talent at home!

Michael Carvell

June 1st, 2010
1:30 pm

@SB, this is supposed to be one of Georgia’s better years with high school players for the MLB Draft. The Braves love local talent, therefore I’m sure they have their eyes on DeShields, Clarke, Carey, many others.

That Guy

June 1st, 2010
1:50 pm

How about Deandre Smelter from Tattnall Square Academy in Macon, GA. Probably not better than Cowart, but a great athlete.

DaMan

June 1st, 2010
5:27 pm

DeShields, fastest and strongest I have seen. Good teammate too.

intheknow

June 1st, 2010
6:25 pm

Deshields is a nice ballplayer, I would want to see more arm strength and I am not sure he can develop it to become a major league outfielder. Carey and Clarke have huge upsides and this is what scouts crave for

Georgia Bred

June 2nd, 2010
6:01 am

@Delbert, If you go to school on a football scholarship, of course you have to at least play football, but you can play any sport if the coaches let you. No, Kyle Parker’s football scholarship does not count towards the baseball numbers.

Jim

June 2nd, 2010
1:23 pm

Chavez Clarke is a switch hitter as well. He will be a valuable addition to any organization. I just hope it’s the Braves.