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.