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06/08/10 12:37 AM ET

Athletic DeShields has Major League pedigree

High school infielder son of former big leaguer

HOUSTON -- Delino DeShields Jr. already has a goal to be in the Major Leagues in just 2 1/2 years, which may seem kind of lofty for a 17-year-old who just graduated from high school. But if the old man was able to do it, the competition begins.

Draft Central

DeShields Jr., the son of long-time Major Leaguer Delino DeShields Sr., was the first of three players the Astros selected in Monday's First-Year Player Draft. He's a speed-to-burn outfielder out of Woodward Academy in College Park, Ga., who will make the transition to second base.

"We've got this competition thing going on right now," DeShields Jr. said. "Me, personally, I want to make it in less than two years. I'm just grateful if I make it in four or five years. I'm just happy for the opportunity and want to see where it takes me."

The Astros chose DeShields Jr. with the No. 8 overall pick in the Draft, their highest since picking Phil Nevin with the No. 1 overall selection in 1992. The club chose high school power pitcher Mike Foltynewicz at No. 19 and University of Minnesota third baseman Mike Kvasnicka at No. 33.

Houston gained the 19th and 33rd pick for losing closer Jose Valverde in arbitration, and the Astros have until Aug. 16 to sign their Draft picks.

"We were very happy," Astros assistant general manager for scouting Bobby Heck said. "The play in front of [DeShields Jr.] was limited. We knew he wasn't getting to 19. But it wasn't a strategic thing. His talented warranted a selection at No. 8, and we were happy to select him there."

DeShields Sr., who will manage the Reds' Rookie League affiliate in Billings, Mont., this year, didn't spend Draft day with his son because he was working at Cincinnati's extended spring training in Phoenix. But he called his selection an emotional day.

"I think it's a good fit for him," DeShields Sr. said. "I'm really happy. I'm a proud dad today. It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice. But I think it's going to be good for him to be an Astro."

A two-sport athlete like his father -- who was taken No. 12 overall in the 1987 Draft and signed to play basketball at Villanova -- DeShields Jr. was recruited by several Division I universities to play football, but he decided to focus on baseball in January because schools were backing off of him because of the baseball Draft.

DeShields Jr., who committed to LSU to play baseball, was the leadoff hitter for his private school and hit .415 and led the team in homers (nine), RBIs (40) and stolen bases (29).

"You start with bloodlines, you start with his athleticism," Heck said. "He's a top-of-the-scale runner with a very good feel to steal bases and potential to be a leadoff hitter at the Major League level. He's going to play as a center fielder and transition to second base, and I think with [Minor League baserunning instructor] Eric Young on this staff as well as his dad, who played second base in the big leagues, we feel very comfortable he has a chance to be a stronger profile as a second baseman."

Heck said signability won't be an issue with DeShields because of his relationship with the Astros scouts and the club's relationship with the family. DeShields attended the Astros' pre-Draft workout last week at Minute Maid Park, which is where general manager Ed Wade first laid eyes on him.

"For those of us who didn't get a chance to see him, to see the package here just validated what our guys said about him," Wade said. "This is a kid with a power bat and a plus-run tool that if he can make the transition to second base, it's going to be very special for us."

Once he signs, DeShields will play center field at Rookie League Greeneville before making the transition to second base in the instructional league. DeShields Jr. and his father both believe second base is his best position in the long run.

"I just think he's a good baseball player," DeShields Sr. said. "He has good baseball instincts. He's fast. I think he's the type of player who could impact the game on a daily basis. He's an everyday type of guy who knows how to play the game."

His father played 13 seasons in the Major Leagues, mostly with Montreal, and had 1,548 career hits and 463 stolen bases. DeShields Jr. got to spend time around Major League clubhouses, which his father said was invaluable for many reasons.

"He was young," DeShields Sr. said. "You know how young guys are when they are in the clubhouse. He's not paying attention to what's going on, on the field. He was a young kid back in those days. But growing up in the same house as me is like growing up in a clubhouse."

If DeShields Jr. winds up being as good as dad, the Astros will be thrilled.

"I know deep down inside I can't let him get ahead of me," DeShields Jr. said. "We've been competitive, but I know he's proud of me and he's excited. We made some history, according to my mom."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.