Deglan goes D-eeeeep in Arizona Fall League
* C Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) known as Big D, for his ‘D’ behind the plate, hopes to get to Big D … as in Dallas eventually, or rather just outside Dallas: Arlington, Tex. home the Texas Rangers. Delgan was a first-round selection in 2010 from Doug Mathieson‘s Langley Blaze. Photos: Dylan Higgins ….
By Steph Rogers
SURPRISE, Ariz. — It seems the common prescribed therapy for players in a time of struggle: slow things down. Take the time to play the game. Do everything day-to-day and find control.
Catcher Kellin Deglan has spent the last two seasons in the South Atlantic League playing for the Texas Rangers Class-A Hickory Crawdads, where day-to-day he has progressed his defensive game into something he’s very proud of.
“It’s really important to me,” he said, of maintaining his role. “I proved to the Rangers that I can stick as a catcher. I’m really happy with the way my defence has progressed.”
At Arizona Fall League, the Surprise Saguaros’ catcher is looking to light a fire in his offence against some of most challenging players he’s ever faced. He’s slowing it down.
Last season with the Crawdads, Deglan fared slightly better than his 2011 campaign, but still isn’t where he wants to be at. He was hitting .234 with 12 home runs in 92 games and stuck out 96 times.
“I’m trying to have better pitch selection. I’ve been chasing a lot, and I got myself out a lot this year by chasing at bad pitches,” the lefty-swinging Deglan said, before the Saguaros took on the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
“I asked some of the guys on my team what the fall league competition is like, and they said it’s like a really good Double-A or Triple-A team.”
Those guys weren’t wrong. More than 60% of Fall League players have reached the big leagues. Major League Baseball created the league 20 years ago to serve as its “graduate school.” As far as off-season play goes, AFL is ivy league, and Deglan is a wide-eyed underclassman.
“You have to get yourself mentally ready to go,” Deglan said. He is one of three catchers on the roster and doesn’t see action every day.
“It’s not easy coming off the bench and you’re seeing guys with some really good stuff out there … it lets you know where you’re at as a player.”
The native of Langley (better known as ‘the place where Brett Lawrie hails from’), may get chirped by his Rangers teammates in Arizona for the way he pronouces “out” and “about,” but his experiences with Baseball Canada are what has brought him here.
He was the Rangers’ first round pick (22nd overall) in 2010 out of R.E Mountain Secondary School, and became the second highest Canadian position player ever selected. He comes from Canada’s elite Langley Blaze, responsible for more players drafted than any other club in the country.
Deglan was the Canadian Junior National Team’s MVP in 2010 after a loss to Cuba in the bronze medal game, and his contributions to the game north of the border are ongoing. He hasn’t even celebrated his 21st birthday yet.
“Team Canada was huge in my development. Playing international ball, representing your country, and working with some of the top coaches in Canada eased me into pro ball,” he said.
Deglan joined the Senior Men’s team for the first time in September at the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Regensburg, Germany. The youngest player on the National Team roster was reunited with his coach from the Junior team, Greg Hamilton.
“Anybody who plays on Team Canada knows how great of a coach Greg is. He really helped me as a player, mentally and with mechanics,” Deglan said. “He believed in me and gave me an opportunity. He stuck by me.”
His teammates didn’t let him down either, providing sound advice for the Team Canada rookie.
“(They said) try to play your game. Don’t try to hit the ball 400 feet,” he said. “They let me know to take advantage of my opportunities.”
Being an AFL delegate for Texas gives Deglan a chance to show that he wants to compete among those who are on the brink of their respective big clubs.
In Monday’s contest against the Scottsdale Scorpions, he homered for the first time this fall, driving in two runs. It was the second game of nine where he hasn’t been the victim of a strikeout.
While Deglan works on his offensive side for the last week in Arizona, the opportunity to challenge himself in these surroundings is a chance to get a head start on his 2013 goals.
“(I want to) keep improving the way I have. I really want to get going offensively,” he said. “I think I can have a big year. I need to go out and do it, believe in myself, and trust it.”
“Let it all happen, and who knows where I’ll be?” he jokes that hopefully, it’s out of A-ball.