Pitching prospects have it hard enough when trying to prove themselves without having to deal with the added pressures of pitching regularly in Denver for the Colorado Rockies, where the ball jumps off the bat. Right-hander Mike DeJean was not only drafted in the middle rounds, he spent six seasons in the minors and came up with the Rockies. However, he persevered to have a successful 10-year big-league career.
A shortstop while attending and playing for the University of West Alabama (Livingston), DeJean had a strong arm and successfully retired two batters in a pitching appearance during the Division II College World Series. Taking a chance on his potential on the mound, he was taken in the 24th round of that year’s draft by the New York Yankees and converted to relief pitcher.
DeJean made steady progress through the Yankees’ system as a closer, notching 65 saves in his first four seasons. His big break came after the 1995 season when New York traded him to the Rockies for veteran catcher Joe Girardi. The team had just finished their third year of existence and were still building a roster that had already seen them make the playoffs.
The time finally came for DeJean in 1997, as he made the big-league roster for Colorado. He finished with very solid numbers of a 5-0 record, two saves and a 3.99 ERA in 55 relief appearances.
Pitching to contact earlier in his career, the right-hander garnered more strikeouts as his career continued. After four years with the Rockies, he went on to pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, and finished his career back in Colorado.
His greatest success came with the Brewers, where he served as their closer in 2002 and 2003. 2002 was his best season, as his 27 saves and 3.12 ERA in 68 games was a bright spot on a team that won only 56 games.
All told, DeJean enjoyed a 10-year major-league career. In 565 games (all but one in relief), he had a combined record of 30-33 with a 4.30 ERA and 52 saves. Keep reading, as she shares some additional information about his career and background.
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: Ron Guidry. He was Louisiana Lightning.
Can you please describe what your draft experience was like, being taken in the 24th round by the Yankees in 1992?: Very unreal. I was glad I was a Yankee.
What kind of impact do you believe being traded to the Rockies for Joe Girardi have on your career?: It got me to the big leagues quicker.
What do you remember most about your major league debut?: How loud Coors Field was.
Which one hitter intimidated you more than any other, and why?: Barry Bonds. His power and he had a great eye. (Bonds was just 3-for-12 against him with no home runs and three strikeouts in his career.)
What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: St. Louis, in the first game back after 9/11.
Can you explain what, if any, difference you felt as a pitcher when pitching in Colorado?: It was dry and hard to grip the baseball.
Who was your favorite coach or manager, and what made them your choice?: All of them.
What, if anything, would you have done differently in your baseball career?: Enjoyed the cities I visited more.
What are you up to these days?: Coaching baseball, hunting, fishing and raising six boys.
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