We were fortunate to have been able to sit down and interview 3B Paul DeJong, who is currently the Cardinals #15 prospect according to MLB.com. Below he shares some insight about the Cardinals farm system and the one thing that he wants Cardinals fans to know about him.
Position: 3rd Base
College: Illinois State University
Draft: Round 4 (2015, STL)
Most recent team: Springfield Cardinals (AA)
2015 Stat line: .260/.324/.460 132 GP, 29 doubles, 2 triples, 22 home runs, 73 RBIs.
Eddie Liu: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge of playing in the minor leagues?
Paul DeJong: The biggest challenge in the minor leagues is learning how to be mentally focused and physically healthy every pitch for 140+ games.
EL: What tools does the Cardinals organization give you to optimize your development as a player? Do they have any unique methods that may separate them from other organizations around the league?
PD: They give us strength and conditioning guidance to keep our bodies healthy. Also, the coaches and rovers encourage us to ask questions about the game. The Cardinals also stress sound fundamentals and doing the “little things” right to win games. [We believe] that if we can continually do the little things right all season, we will win a lot of games.
EL: What are some specific things you’ve worked on this year and what are some things you think you need to specifically improve upon to be “big league” ready?
PD: This year, I worked on strike zone discipline and managing the count. Also, I worked on [my] defensive footwork and pre-pitch timing. I need to continue to improve plate discipline. Also, I need to [continue to] do the little things right like base running and defensive positioning. It all comes down to executing the fundamentals at the most consistent level possible. I will continue to strive for that.
EL: Are there any specific coaches in Springfield that have been crucial for your development?
PD: My manager Dann Billardello taught me how to conserve my energy so that I was able to leave everything on the field each night.
It’s been wonderful. I remember I was at work when he called and told me that he was getting traded to St. Louis. I actually work with quite a bit of people who are from the St. Louis area and they are all Cardinals fan, so they were pretty excited.
EL: What was your relationship like with Luke Weaver and Carson Kelly, who were your teammates this year in Springfield? What has it been like watching them play for St. Louis this year?
PD: I really got to know Luke Weaver and Carson Kelly while they were in Springfield. They’re both extremely hard working and focused players. They deserve to be in the big leagues. I’m very happy to see them having success in St. Louis. I’m thankful to have shared a field and a clubhouse with them.
EL: Do you have any pregame rituals? If so, what is your favorite?
PD: I have a pregame routine that includes eating, stretching, hitting and quiet visualization.
EL: What is the one thing you want fans in St. Louis to know about you?
PD: I want the fans in St. Louis to know that I am fully committed to winning and the Cardinal Way. I want to win a World Series for the city of St. Louis. I will do everything I can to help the Cardinals win.