Deacon Liput: Catalyst

A bit of a busy day today so I found it difficult to sit down and write. I had an idea that would take quite a bit of time but 2demeter2 and dionysis came to the rescue with their mention on another thread of the Loons 2018 shortstop. I have a few names on my list that includes Deacon Liput. Another is Luke Heyer, but Deacon draws the short straw this time.

In following the Loons games during the 2018 season I got somewhat familiar with a number of the Great Lakes players. Certainly Stephen Kolek, Austin Drury and Bryan Warzek are three of my favorites among others but Deacon Liput took over top spot on my list. It was his style of play, his leadership and his work as a catalyst at the top of the batting order that took my eye. I really like grinders who never quit.

Liput actually has been drafted three times. First by the New York Yankees (39th round) in 2015, then by the Dodgers in 2016 (29th round) and in 2018 in the 10th round. Being selected by the Dodgers twice is an indication of their interest in him. His teammate, outfielder Josh McLain, was also selected by the Dodgers in both the 2017 and 2018 draft going in the 14th and 9th rounds respectively.

Deacon Liput, who bats left but throws right, graduated from Oviedo High School in Ovieda, Florida before heading off for a three-year stint at the University of Florida.

Perfect Game issued the following scouting report on Liput in 2015

“Deacon Liput is a 2015 SS/2B with a 5-11 180 lb. frame from Oviedo, FL who attends Oviedo HS. Strong compact quick twitch athletic build. 6.51 runner, plays hard and fast. Second base actions in the middle infield, very good arm strength, tends to wait back on the ball with a slow exchange, looks the ball into the glove, soft hands. Left handed hitter, some back side collapse, short rotational swing, hands stay tight, swings hard and has some bat speed, ball jumps well when squared, can turn on the inside pitch, tends to reach on balls away. Grinder type personality on the field but has nice tools. Good student, verbal commitment to Florida.”

With the Gators in his junior year he posted a slash line of .280/.375/.478 along with nine home runs and 38 runs batted in from the lead off position. He struck out 48 times while taking 31 walks. He helped lead Florida to three consecutive College World Series appearances in Omaha, Nebraska, winning the championship in 2017.

Also with the Gators in 2017 he switched from second base to shortstop and has continued to play at shortstop in his professional career as well as at second base.

Liput’s junior year with Florida started off rather poorly, especially after the Gators championship year in 2017. He was suspended for the first 14 games of the season as a result of disciplinary action taken the previous fall. It proved to be a difficult but valuable lesson learned for the young shortstop.

“I learned a lot. I learned that my actions off the field, they affect more than just me, including my school, my teammates, my coaches, my family, my friends and I’ve learned I need to make smarter decisions because it’s not just about me and I can’t be that selfish and make some of the decisions that I’ve made.”

His decision to return to Florida for his junior year was strongly influenced by his desire to atone for the disappointment he had caused in the fall of 2017. Liput explained his decision: “I owed it to Florida and to myself to go back for another season.”

He began his 2018 season batting eighth but soon returned to his preferred spot in the lead off position. He had learned how to work the count often taking the first pitch but also demonstrated he could turn on that first pitch if pitchers thought they always had a free first strike.

“The leadoff role is pretty important,” Liput said. “I think the biggest thing is in order to be a good leadoff hitter, you have to have a selfless mentality, and you have to realize that, especially your first at bat, is more for the team than it is for yourself and you let the team see the pitches that the other pitcher has got.”

Liput was voted to the 2016 SEC All-Freshman Team, the 2017 SEC All-Defensive Team and was announced as a finalist for the 2018 Brooks Wallace Award, which is presented to college baseball’s top shortstop. Cadyn Grenier of the Oregon State Beavers captured the award which has previously been won by notable shortstops Alex Bregman in 2013 and Dansby Swanson in 2015.

The 22-year-old Liput made his professional debut with the Great Lakes Loons on July 5th in 2018 with two hits in four at bats against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. He hit in the two spot behind the aforementioned Josh McLain.

With the Loons in 42 games Liput hit .280 with five home runs and 21 runs batted in. He hit .273 against left-handers and .281 against right-handers while hitting .288 out of the leadoff spot.

Liput’s approach to the game has evolved as he has matured. .” “I look for a specific pitch, and when I see it I hit it,” he said. “I stay relaxed and try to have fun. I try to relax and enjoy the game.”

It is thought that Liput projects more as a second baseman, his original position, and may well get to work on his double play pivot with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 2019.

As a point of interest, Deacon Liput’s first name is not Deacon. Nor is it his second name. According to an anecdote by Chris Vosters, the Loons 2018 play-by-play announcer during the 2018 season, he acquired the name as a result of being the youngest of three boys. Apparently, as boys are perhaps prone to do, the two older brothers would playfully get after Deacon causing him to dodge and deke to escape them. “Deking” turned into “Deacon”, the name he now carries even on his 2014 Leaf Perfect Game Showcase card. The Baseball Cube has his proper name listed as Davis.

This article has 33 Comments

  1. Going from young and inexperienced with Deacon to old and experienced with AJ Ellis, sorry about that, but AJ had a good year last year earning a OPS+ of 103 with 151 at bats. I will guess that Honey did not want him meddling with pitchers game planning and was pushed out. He might have one more year left and then would be a great coach.
    .
    Adding AJ would put a big load on Barnes but Smith will be pushing Barnes by July so maybe AJ is only needed for a half season. The same could be said about other catchers the Dodgers might acquire other than Realmuto.
    .
    Syndergaard looks to be very available. His mechanics apparently needs tweaking and Honey would help him with that. I have read he needs to rely less on his sinker and more on his 4 seam fastball. AJ Ellis has shown he can convince pitchers to make those kind of changes.
    .
    I think Puig will be key to getting either Syndergaard or Realmuto. There is little doubt in my mind that Puig will be traded.
    .
    Should the Dodgers sign Jonathan Schoop? He, like Taylor, was good in 2017 and not so good in 2018. Signing him might require the Dodgers to move payroll and that might mean Wood would have to be traded. Would adding Schoop mean that Muncy would be traded? I like the righty bat Schoop would add to the Dodger infield.

    1. I will get the easiest out of the way – NO on Schoop. I would much prefer CT3/Kike’/Muncy. Schoop has a sub .300 career OBP, and even with playing most of his career in that bandbox AKA Camden Yard, his OPS is less than both CT3 & Kike’, much less Max.
      .
      I do not see Andrew & Co. trading for either Syndergaard or Realmuto. If Puig is moved, he could go to NYM because they need a RHH OF. He could also go to Cleveland for the same reason. But the last thing Miami needs is another RH bat in the OF. If Andrew & Co. makes a significant trade with the Fish, it is going to include Joc or Verdugo. I know that Puig has reverse splits, but it isn’t just the offensive numbers that are important. The reason I hate the all RH lineup and all LH lineup is because the pitcher does not need to change where they need to throw the ball. They need to get the pitcher trying to hone in that one sweet spot. Besides he still has a career .250/.340/.417/.757 slash against LHP. He has a .290/.357/.502/.859 slash line against RHP.
      .
      I am okay with one more year of AJ Ellis. I just do not know what the feeling of the front office (Doc Roberts??) might be.
      .
      If this Cano/Diaz deal ever goes through, Syndergaard is not going anywhere. That trade will signify that the Mets are going for it in 2019, and their pitching is what is going to push them. deGrom/Syndergaard/Wheeler/Matz/Vargas is a good rotation, and if they can find a LHSP to replace Vargas they will be good to go. The Mets could use Puig and Wood, but I do not see anything on the Mets that the Dodgers could use.
      .
      Maybe they could do Puig, Wood, & Farmer for Cespedes, LHP David Peterson (Mets #6), and RHP Franklyn Kilome (Mets #5). Kilome is out all year for TJ surgery, and Andrew & Co. love to take their chances with TJ surgery pitchers. The Mets would have to throw in $15MM in cash to make the dollars work, and that may include a couple of lottery ticket throw-ins from the Dodgers. By the time Kemp starts to tire out, Cespedes should be ready to go.
      .
      No….It will never happen. It is just a conversation starter that neither team will be interested in.

      1. If NY needs a RH bat, why would they trade for Puig? He’s LH… he must be, look at his splits! 😉

        Schoop- NO! Worse than Manny in LA!

        1. .250/.340/.417/.757 for maybe 30-40% of PA, plus a different look for the pitcher. A team looking for a RH bat could do far worse. Heck, that slash line is better than a lot of ML OF. But I still do not believe they will trade him.

      2. Agree, no to Schoop. Just thought I would throw that out there.
        .
        If the Mets could sign a free agent pitcher or get one in the trade for Syndergaard that also gives them more offense, I can see them doing it after the Cano trade is made. If the Dodgers wind up with Syndergaard it could be the result of a multi-team trade.
        .
        Maybe it was Zaidi that was the one that wanted Ellis off the team. He employed pitching strategists and geeks to help develop game plans only to have players prefer to listen to Ellis maybe.

  2. I think the odds are fairly high Wood will get moved this off season. His arbitration estimated eligible one-year salary for around $9 million makes him a trade candidate to be packaged in a deal for some BP, SP or 2B help. I have a feeling Friedman will wheel and deal over the next two weeks and we just might be surprised by a BIG blockbuster deal.

    1. Wood is one of my favorite pitchers (only behind Kershaw). But even I do not think LAD can get anything back in return for Wood. With his reduced velocity, $9MM projected salary, and one year team control, he does not have much return in value capacity. Right now he is at best a #4 or #5 and very few teams are going to pay $9MM for a #4 or #5.
      .
      One of my issues with the Dodgers FO over the last few years, is that they have a tendency to hold on to players well past when their value disappears. Most recently think Brock Stewart. If they were not going to extend Wood and Puig, then last winter should have been the time to move either one. They are too expensive to move for anything other than for comparable contracts. When a team like Cleveland wants to divest of salary, they are not going to want Puig and Wood for Kluber. They might do Puig/Verdugo/Smith for Kluber, but would Friedman & Co. I will answer – NO!
      .
      The value for Joc Pederson is not going to get higher next year. Unless they are going to extend him (they will not), it might be best to move him this year. He is a platoon player at best for LAD, while some team (Rays, Fish, Royals, A’s) might be able to put him in the lineup full time.

      1. The Dodgers have to think Wood will either get his fastball back or that he has trade value. Why else would they tender him a contract?

      2. AC, would you please find a way to tell Wood to stop throwing his used bubble gum on the field of play when he walks off the mound?

  3. Thanks DC and I’ll stick with Deacon…
    Looking forward to seeing him and other kids at my local Quakes team…

  4. If I were Friedman, I might be tempted to trade Wood and Puig for as many good prospects as I could get and go with the status quo. I might trade Maeda for some too. Then you have more to play with at the trade deadline.

    1. Verdugo RF
    2. Turner 3B
    3. Seager SS
    4. Freese/Muncy 1B
    5. Bellinger CF
    6. Kemp/Pederson LF
    7. Taylor or Kike 2B (until Lux)
    8. Barnes

    1. I think that is far more realistic and supportable, and more in line with what Andrew is comfortable doing. He is not going to overspend on a high priced player even if it gives the Dodgers a better chance to win this year. He is more comfortable being in a position to win the Division every year and hope they get hot for the playoffs. It almost worked for 2018.
      .
      He is more of a disciple of Stan Kasten than many of us want to believe. Kasten won ONE WS with 4 HOF and other tremendous players (Andruw Jones/Rafael Furcal/Javy Lopez). What makes anyone think that Kasten is not happy just being competitive and hoping to cross the line?

      1. You would think after having that much money, and being older, an owner would like to go for it all, especially if a team is playing like we did in 2017.

        And I am not thinking necessarily going for it all, to the extent that some talk about, because our team in 2017 didn’t need a lot.

        I think either JD Martinez or paying more and getting Verlander, would have possibly made that difference.

        I know there is no such thing as a sure thing, and we came so close to winning it all, anyways.

        But even though we have went to the World Series the last couple years, it isn’t like we are going to make it, every year.

        And because that, if we are playing as well or better then we did in 2017, you would hope that Friedman would go a little farther then he is accustomed too, to get that extra piece.

        And we know Friedman is not one to take that much of a risk, so having Friedman go a little beyond what he is comfortable with, is not necessarily going for it all, like some envision, but it might be that one piece that will take us over.

        But Friedman answers to the owners, so the owners would have to ok anything Friedman would do too.

        But it seems like a team’s value doubles after winning a World Series, so there is a financial advantage to winning it all, and that alone, might pay for those extra pieces, and beyond.

  5. More in the line of thinking for Andrew is what would it take to get 3B Nolan Jones and RHP Ethan Hankins out of Cleveland?

  6. Would like to see the Dodgers pursue Hunter Strickland, Cory Gearrin, and Shelby Miller after they were not offered arbitration. Seems that the pool of pitchers that are available just got much deeper.

  7. DC – thank you very much for this post! I had done some reading on Liput when he was drafted, but didn’t know all of his story. I followed him after the draft by paying attention to his stats. Learning about their attitude and make-up really helps get to know the player better. He’s quickly moving up the list of my favorite Dodger prospects. If he is assigned to the Quakes, I’m going to make a point of taking in a few games next year.
    .
    AC, I vote to put you in charge of doing what it takes to acquire Jones and Hankins. If you can get it done before Christmas that would be preferable, so we can move on to other team needs. Also, if you can get Cleveland to throw in Kluber or Bauer, I think that I would be okay with that too!

    1. Agree. Thanks, DC, for the detailed write-up. Defense, contact, and speed is a good base for a middle infielder. Adding some game power can separate him from the pack (eg. Lux). The championship experience only increases his value me. He’s definitely someone to watch and in some way reminds of Will Smith.
      Similar pedigree. I’ll be rooting for him this year.

  8. The Braintrust will never sign AJ Ellis – he is not considered a good pitch framer.

    The Dodgers held on to Wood because they love depth in the rotation. They figure on pitchers getting hurt or needing a rest mid-season. Wood is a quality 4th starter who provides depth. It’s the same with Puig. The Dodgers had 6 guys get lots of AB in the OF last season. It’s the way the Braintrust does things. I think that it makes sense to trade from the surplus of OF and SP to get players they need. I would still like to see them get a starting C and trading from Joc, Puig, Wood et al makes sense economically.

    The Dodgers have been maddening since the Braintrust took over in one sense – they have waited a long time to do deals, trying to make the best deal, but losing out in the process. I only hope they move promptly if they are going to make a move.

    1. So maybe they should have done Braun for Puig, or Hamels for Seager and Urias, or Dozier for Bellinger?

      The best deal I have seen in years was the Red Sox signing of JD Martinez and they waited forever to do that one.

      I think maybe you are 180 degrees off. If they hadn’t waited, they may have been dope-fiend moves.

  9. I really enjoyed reading about Liput. To me, he is a real personification of hustle. I think he iks another “utility-type guys” but sometimes they evolve. He has little power and watching his swing, you can see why.

  10. Every team has questions about their rotation and most of them revolve around health. If good starters are healthy, they generally pitch very well. So, tell me how many teams are better than these starters IF HEALTHY:

    Kershaw
    Buehler
    Ryu
    Hill
    Wood
    Urias
    Stripling

    Not many, I would venture. Top-to-bottom.

  11. Is Puig’s and Joc’s trade value closer then we would think?

    Because Puig only has this last year left on his contract, and Joc has another year, and Puig is going to make three times the amount of money Joc is.

    Also with the fact that some teams would be afraid to trade for Puig with his rep, whether his rep is justified, or not.

    1. You make a good point. For one year I would much rather have Puig but if you consider all of the facts you mentioned it definitely evens things out a little. I hope Muncy spends a lot of time this winter practicing his outfield skills. He’s played out there a little previously and considering his hitting accomplishments, if he could be used at 1st, 2nd, 3rd or left field it would make him extremely valuable (either for us or as a trade chip). I’m really not thrilled with using him at 2nd or 3rd and would rather move Bellinger back to first. Then use Max in left and leave center for CT3/Kike/Verdugo.

      1. Singing the Blue

        I wasn’t necessarily thinking about which player I would rather keep, I was more wondering what other teams think about both players, considering those differences.

        I am just not sure how other teams look at that two players.

  12. Would be a big fan of acquiring Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays. He showed me a real intensity during the World Championship Series in early 2017 and acted with leadership qualities. Feel that he could benefit from working with the coaching staff of the Dodgers. Would think a trade of Wood, Wong, Stripling and Alvarez would pique the Jays interest.
    Is their a catcher in the Dodgers MiLB system who could be shifted to 2B? Weren’t Smith and Wong both middle infielders in college? Might be a way to take advantage of our depth at this position.

    1. Marcus Stroman could be a pitcher who can thrive in LA. He has two years of arbitration remaining and is projected to be at $7.1MM in 2019. Wood, Wong, Alvarez, and Stripling might start a conversation, but how much better is Stroman than Chicken Strip. Wong is at least two years away. Alvarez is a wild card. It is one of those deals that fans of both teams will hate, so it might work.
      .
      Wong can (and has) play 2B. Smith plays more 3B than 2B. Kyle Farmer is more of an infielder who can catch.

  13. I followed Deacon at UF and he is a winner. He led his HS team at Oviedo HS to its first state championship ever in their 45 year history and helped UF to its first in 100 years. 3 time CWS participant primes a young man for a big stage . He definitely has the arm and steady defense for MIF but his stocky body type tilts 2B. He has been through multiple swing changes at UF and watching LOONS games the Dodgers seem to be encouraging a slight leg kick . He’s got a very strong swing so capable slugging production is certainly there.

  14. Cano has 2470 career hits. Best case scenario for Mets he moves to 1b and reaches 3000 sometime in the next five years. It seems many are gloating over Seattle’s end of the deal but they lost the best player in the deal, Diaz. They will be worse as a result and their fans will miss him. No clear winner here but I think Seattle loses more.

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