Earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed RHP Chase De Jong to a minor league deal.
De Jong has appeared in the majors in parts of four seasons. Most recently in 2020, the 27-year-old appeared in three games (two starts) with the Houston Astros. He totaled 7.1 innings (14.73 ERA). In 54.1 career innings pitched, De Jong has a 7.12 ERA (-0.2 fWAR).
Via Fangraphs, De Jong features a four-pitch mix including a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. Last year, his fastball averaged 93 mph. For his career though, the heater has averaged closer to the 90 mph mark. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if he continues to add velocity or revert to the mean.
Free passes have been a problem for De Jong in the majors being that his career walk rate is 10.6 percent. Lack of strikeouts has also been a problem. His career K rate sits at 14.6 percent. In 2020 though, De Jong struck out nine batters in his 7.1 innings. Small sample size yes, but with the increased velocity, perhaps De Jong is making a real effort to increase strikeouts. Once again, time will tell if this trend, if you can even call it that, continues.
Looking ahead to Spring Training, De Jong will have the opportunity to compete for a roster spot. If things work out for him, he may be able to contribute to the bullpen with the potential to eat innings. If not, well, it’s just another average minor league signing.