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Ivan De Jesus 2016 Season Preview

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A quick look at the Reds' 2nd-year utility player

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Fast Facts

Ivan De Jesus, Jr was born on May 1, 1987 in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. His father, also Ivan, spent parts of fourteen seasons playing in the majors, the majority of those spent with the Dodgers and Cubs. Ivan Jr spent his whole life in Puerto Rico, before being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 2005 draft. He would spend the better part of five seasons bouncing around the Dodgers' minor league system before finally making his MLB debut on April 1, 2011.

Ivan would spend the majority of the 2011 and 2012 seasons bouncing back and forth from the Dodgers to AAA Albuquerque, until he was traded to the Boston Red Sox in August, 2012. He was a September call-up for the Red Sox, where he would have pinch-hit duties for the rest of the season.  He would then spend the 2013 and 2014 seasons in the minor league systems of the Pirates, Orioles, and Red Sox before signing a free agent contract with the Reds after the 2014 season.

After beginning the season in AAA Louisville, De Jesus was called up to the Reds in June after an injury to Marlon Byrd. Spending the rest of the year backing up Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier, and Eugenio Suarez, he did better than many of us expected for someone getting their first major league action since 2012. He posted career best numbers in just about every statistic, knocked his first four dingers of his career, and provided solid defensive numbers at multiple infield positions. Heck, he even was thrown into the black hole of left field and did well enough to earn 14 starts at the position. His .264/.348/.393 line through August was a very welcome contribution for a team whose bench has been about as deep as the puddle I stepped in this morning. Although he slumped through September, his 2015 performance is one that the Reds hope that he can build upon going into 2016.

Organizational Information

Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2nd round of the 2005 amateur draft.
Signed June 19, 2005. (All Transactions)
Debut: April 1, 2011 (Age 23.335, 17,497th in MLB history) vs. SFG 3 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 2012 season
Teams (by GP): Reds/Dodgers/RedSox 2011-2015
2016 Contract Status: Pre-Arb Eligible
Service Time (01/2016): 1.099, Arb Eligible: 2018, Free Agent: 2021 
November 20, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the Cincinnati Reds

Career Statistics

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Pitch F/X Profile

2016 Projetions

Outlook

Ivan De Jesus showed in 2015 that he can provide the ability to get on base at a consistent rate (.311 OBP for the season, even after his September slump) and the versatility on defense to be the perfect utility bat to come off the bench in 2016. Even though the bench competition is thick with rule 5 guys (Cave), out of options guys (Yorman), and guys just mashing the ball (Schebler), he is the only one with the  ability to play solid defense at all four infield positions.. One of the only ways he could end up being the odd-man-out is if the Reds decide to keep newly-acquired Jose Peraza on the big league roster, which would suddenly create a crowded infield.

To say that bench depth has been a problem for the Reds in recent years would be quite the understatement. Having to rely on Skip Schumaker, Jack Hannahan, Willie Harris, Roger Bernadina, and oh God this list is just depressing, the Reds could not come close to make up for the production lost to injuries in 2014 and 2015. Even with his slide at the plate at the end of the season, his performance is more than enough to earn him a spot on the 25-man roster. While he may not reproduce the numbers he put up in July and August, he still should provide something better than what the Reds have had to rely on in the past. After all, it would be pretty hard to get much worse.