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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Baseball player Deon Stafford prepares for MLB draft 

Junior Deon Stafford, Jr. has played baseball since he was four years old. He just “picked up a bat and knew” that he wanted to play.

That interest has since paid off, as Stafford is now one of the catchers on the Saint Joseph’s University baseball team, and has led one of the most successful collegiate careers of anyone on the team.

Originally from Harrisburg, Pa., Stafford was raised by his grandmother and was athletic as a child. He decided to begin as a catcher in eighth grade.

“I was a shortstop [at the time], but we had an even better shortstop,” Stafford said. “And I knew I wasn’t going to be a shortstop much longer, so I decided to switch positions. I thought that being the catcher was cool because you get more of the action.”

As a senior at Lower Dauphin High School, Stafford was recruited for the St. Joe’s team by Head Coach Fritz Hamburg.

“He’s a leader and he’s passionate about what he does and how he plays the game,” Hamburg said. “He’s a great teammate, and those are all things that coaches look for. They’re all really important pieces to what we look for, and Deon exhibited that on a high level.”

Stafford’s teammate and senior pitcher Pat Vanderslice says that his first impression of his teammate was a positive one.

“I just thought he was a really nice and well-rounded kid,” Vanderslice said. “I thought he was very talented and worked very hard. If anything, he’s exceeded what I thought of him at first.”

In his first year playing baseball at St. Joe’s, Stafford was named as a member of the 2015 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team, and that summer, he played for the New England Collegiate Baseball League, where he won Rookie of the Year.

His sophomore season was, according to Hamburg, “maybe one of the best years ever of a baseball player in St. Joe’s history.” He was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Big 5 Player of the Year, and the following summer, he played for the Cape Cod League, one of the premier collegiate summer leagues in the country. At the end of the summer, he made the All-Cape Cod League team and won the championship.

Vanderslice also played in the same summer leagues and says that Stafford’s positivity helped keep the team going.

“He’s always trying to keep us up and cheer us on,” Vanderslice said. “Making sure of what’s best for the team.”

Hamburg also says that it has been “rewarding” to see Stafford improve over the years.

“Out of high school, he was a good player, a physical, strong player,” Hamburg said. “But to where he’s taken his game on the field, to have as much interest as he’s garnering through the professional ranks is really, really impressive and a lot of that has to do with his work ethic and his commitment to achieving that goal.”

Ideally, Stafford says he would like to play in the Major Leagues. As for now, he is eligible for the amateur draft, which takes place on June 12.

Hamburg thinks that playing Major League Baseball is a possibility for him and his future.

“I think Deon possesses the traits and the work ethic and the mindset to give him the opportunity to one day reach the big leagues,” Hamburg said. “For any player that’s as passionate as he is, that’s the dream.”

Nevertheless, Stafford says that he only hopes his future is a happy one.

“If I’m not loving what I’m doing, then why am I there?” Stafford said. “You’ve got to have a passion and a love for what you’re doing.”

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