- Full name Ian M. Desmond
- Born 09/20/1985 in Sarasota, FL
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 217 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Sarasota
- Debut 09/10/2009
Drafted in the 3rd round (84th overall) by the Washington Nationals in 2004 (signed for $430,000).
View Draft ReportSarasota prep SS Ian Desmond, a South Florida recruit, also has shown some pop and average tools across the board.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Though Desmond never had hit better than .264 at any minor league stop heading into 2009, Nats officials still believed he was close to taking off. After missing nearly two months early in the season following surgery to remove the hamate bone in his left hand, Desmond rewarded their faith by hitting .330 in the minors, then getting 10 hits in his first 17 at-bats following a September callup. If Desmond's bat continues to develop, he has a chance for average or better tools across the board. His quick hands and strong forearms generate plus bat speed and average power, and he has done a good job shortening his swing and becoming more patient at the plate. At shortstop, he has good range and a 65 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale. He is live-bodied and athletic, and he plays with plenty of energy. He has average speed and is a smart baserunner. Desmond is capable of making spectacular plays, but he must improve his concentration to cut down on errors on routine plays. He's not a finished product at the plate and still chases pitches out of the zone at times. Desmond will compete for a big league middle-infield job in spring training, but he figures to open the year back at Triple-A Syracuse.
Early on during Desmond's slow climb through the system, organization officials speculated that he might be the kind of player who needs 2,000 pro at-bats before he's ready for the big leagues. Desmond never has hit better than .264 at any minor league stop, and Washington still is waiting for him to translate his tools into results. After holding his own at Double-A in 2008, he finally took a significant step forward offensively in the Arizona Fall League, batting .267/.364/.525 in 101 at-bats. Desmond generates plenty of bat speed and flashes average power potential. His pitch recognition and selection are starting to improve, but he struggles to maintain a consistent, patient approach. He has average speed and excellent range at shortstop, where his above-average arm allows him to make spectacular plays at times. His error total dropped from 32 in 2007 to 22 in 2008, but he still needs to work on consistently making routine plays. The Nationals hope Desmond is ready to handle Triple-A in 2009. If his bat continues to develop he could compete for Washington's starting shortstop job in 2010.
Desmond was developing slowly but steadily before Washington rushed him to Double-A in 2006, and he struggled mightily and took a full year to get back on track. He was sent back to high Class A in 2007 and batted just .239 before the all-star break, though the Nationals insist it was the hardest .239 you'll ever see. He worked hard to get his hands into a good hitting position and let balls on the outer half travel farther before he knocked them to the opposite field. In the second half, he also made progress turning on inside fastballs and laying off breaking balls in the dirt, and it all clicked in August, when he batted .362/.455/.574. He also drew 57 walks--23 more than his previous season high--illustrating his new, more patient approach. Desmond's quick hands generate plenty of bat speed, which translates into gap power and still could lead to average home run pop. He's a very good defensive shortstop with plus range and arm strength, and he has improved at keeping his focus to make routine plays. He has become a very smart baserunner with average speed. He's a confident, hard-working player whose professional manner is contagious. Desmond still has plenty of work to do at the plate, where his stance is too spread out, causing him to dip and get underneath the ball at times. But he's finally ready for Double-A and still has a chance to be Washington's shortstop of the future. After all, he's still just 22.
Though Desmond entered 2006 with a .244 career batting average, the Nationals saw enough in his confident approach to believe he could handle a promotion to Double-A. He got off to a slow start after getting few atbats in big league camp, and he never recovered. Washington realized it rushed him and demoted him to high Class A in May, when he also missed two weeks with a back injury. Desmond still makes plenty of errors, but he has the tools to be an above-average defender at shortstop with plus-plus arm strength, plus range and soft hands. He started to make some offensive adjustments after his demotion, driving the ball the opposite way and learning to stay back on off-speed pitches. He has above-average speed. His best attributes might be his work ethic and leadership. The Nationals want Desmond to let the ball travel a little farther before he swings, so they opened his stance to improve his vision. He has gotten bigger but still doesn't hit for much power. He needs to focus more on getting on base. In the field, he needs to concentrate more on making the routine plays and do a better job anticipating ground balls. He's no longer the clear choice as Washington's shortstop of the future with Esmailyn Gonzalez and Stephen King now in the system, but Desmond is just 21 and still has a chance to be an everyday player. He'll need a lot of at-bats to improve offensively. He'll give Double-A another try in 2007.
The more the Nationals see of Desmond, the more excited they get. He spent his first full pro season in Class A at age 19, showing enough maturity to earn a midseason promotion to Potomac. Desmond's actions simply make people believe he'll succeed. He has an athletic frame and plays with passion and confidence. His soft hands, aggressive instincts, plus range and plus-plus arm strength should make him an above-average defender at shortstop with a little time. Desmond occasionally tries to force plays in the field, resulting in 39 errors in 2005, but the Nationals aren't concerned about his defense. He still has plenty of work to do offensively, however. Desmond choked the bat, limiting his bat speed and extension, so he had to rotate his grip. After making the adjustment, his swing was shorter and quicker but he still chased too many pitches, struggled to recognize offspeed pitches and had problems with inside fastballs. Desmond should start 2006 back in high Class A. His bat remains uncertain, yet the Nats see him as their shortstop of the future.
The Nationals aren't paying much heed to Desmond's dismal numbers from his pro debut. When it comes to shortstops, his ceiling is easily the highest in the organization, even if at 19 he's far away from the majors. A third-round pick last June who signed for $430,000, he flashes all the tools and has an athletic, live body. He has a plus-plus arm but needs to improve his accuracy after making 25 errors in 51 pro games, many on throws. His actions are smooth in the field, and his confident attitude and high energy level evoke Derek Jeter. Desmond has quite a few adjustments to make at the plate. He needs to establish an approach after striking out four times as often as he walked last summer. He also needs to get a lot stronger in order to hit pro pitching. When he fills out he could become an adequate or maybe even above-average offensive player. He'll probably begin 2005 in extended spring training before going back to short-season Vermont.
Minor League Top Prospects
The Nationals jumped Desmond to Double-A as a 20-year-old in 2006, and the move backfired. He hit .182 before getting demoted to high Class A, where he spent all of the next season. He entered 2009 as a career .247/.313/.373 hitter. But Desmond made significant strides this year, batting a combined .330/.401/.477 between Double-A and Triple-A before putting up similar numbers in the majors. He has become more patient and does a better job of working himself into hitter's counts, and he has the strength and bat speed to take advantage. He has average speed and runs the bases well. Defensively, Desmond has the plus range and arm strength required at shortstop and can make the spectacular play in the hole. He's still seeking consistency on routine plays, as he makes too many careless errors.
Desmond's numbers don't indicate how managers thought of him. The lofty comparisons they threw around had as much to do with his temperament as with his tools. A natural leader on the field, Desmond was likened to Derek Jeter by some managers. "I think of him as a Barry Larkin type, not a Jeter, because he will be a pull hitter with pull power," Knorr said. "He definitely brings excitement to the field because of how hard he plays. Put it this way--I was disappointed when he was promoted." Desmond made 20 errors in the SAL and 39 overall, but his defense rates as his best tool due to quick, nimble footwork that gives him good range, plus sound hands and a strong arm. He's a fringe-average runner but that doesn't affect him in the field. Managers said he was easily the best defensive shortstop in the league. Scouts, however, question Desmond's bat, though he did hit better after a promotion to high Class A. He doesn't control the strike zone and will have to shorten his swing and improve his pitch recognition. He pulls off too many pitches while trying to jack them out to left field.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the National League in 2013
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the National League in 2012
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Washington Nationals in 2010
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the International League in 2009
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Eastern League in 2009
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Washington Nationals in 2009
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Washington Nationals in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Washington Nationals in 2008
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Carolina League in 2007
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Washington Nationals in 2007
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Washington Nationals in 2006
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the South Atlantic League in 2005