TAMPA, Fla.—Chase De Jong wears a blue collar on the mound and in life.
The Blue Jays right-handed pitching prospect may not be Canadian, having grown up in Long Beach, Calif., but still possesses the work ethic and sensibilities of one that make him a strong fit, poised for future success in the organization.
You don’t have to look far to appreciate where his determination and hunger for greatness stems from.
“You wake up, and you work. That’s what we do,” sitting on a bench Tuesday at the Bobby Mattick Training Center.
“I come from nose-to-the-grindstone kind of men in my family. They instilled in me that hard work is expected, and you don’t take shortcuts.”
The 21-year-old hurler knows nothing comes for free, having this lesson engrained by those closest to him, including his grandfather.
Hardship at times, comes with the territory of professional baseball for De Jong, but his grandfather faced challenges that were all too grave and real, offering De Jong perspective on the merit of hard work and focus.
“He was born and raised in West Virginia, and started working the coal mines at the age of nine,” said De Jong. “He was also a prisoner of war in Korea”
The 2014 campaign was less than stellar on De Jong’s part while playing for single-A Lansing, posting a 4.82 earned-run average, resulting in a 1-6 record in 21 starts.
Possessing a potent arsenal of pitches, including a newly added two-seam fastball, De Jong remains focused and committed to the full-time job that is professional baseball, treating the diamond as his institution and working hard to pass every test he’s given.
“I’m learning baseball,” said De Jong. “This is the university of minor-league baseball. This is my craft.”
The 2012 second-round draft pick out of Woodrow Wilson High School understands that every season of development demands hard work and long hours, but that just may be old hat for De Jong, who already has his reputation well thought out.
“I have a work ethic that’s second to none, and I want that to be synonymous with my name where if you got Chase De Jong on your team, that means he’s gonna bust his butt for you, and there’s no shortcuts in his game.”
Of course, it may come about in the future that the only shortcut De Jong takes in his career is the route that the Blue Jays organization have carved out in his development.
Like most minor leaguers, De Jong wouldn’t have any issue with that, knowing where he would like to be at this time next year.
“Big-league camp”, De Jong replied with sincerity.
Having set goals for himself and his development through the minor-league system, the work seemingly never ends for De Jong.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way.