Deon Stafford took college baseball by storm, hitting .395 with a program-record 18 home runs and 49 RBIs to earn Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year honors as a sophomore with Saint Joseph’s in 2016. After a strong showing in the prestigious Cape Cod League last summer, expectations are high for Stafford this season.
One of the top catchers in college baseball, Baseball America ranks Stafford as the 33rd-best college prospect in the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft class.
“(Playing professionally) has been my dream since I was 5 years old,” Stafford said “I expected it in my mind, but now that it’s here, I’m grateful for it. I’m not really thinking about it too much. If I just go out there and have fun and win, everything else will take care of itself.”
A 6-foot, 202-pound catcher, Stafford has exciting raw tools with room to grow as a player. A right-handed hitter, he has tremendous raw power, arm strength and athleticism.
“I can steal bases, I can hit home runs and I can play catcher for the team,” Stafford said. “I feel like I bring leadership to the team. I think it’s very important but can be overlooked in today’s game.”
While Stafford has outstanding arm strength to stick at catcher long-term, one area he hopes to improve is his receiving and blocking ability behind the plate.
“(I want to improve) my defense in general,” Stafford said. “I think I’m ready on the offensive part. But, I know I have a lot to work on with the defensive part. I feel like if I do well in that part of the game, I’ll be ready for the next level.”
A junior at Saint Joseph’s, Stafford has been one of few bright spots for the Hawks this season, who are off to a 1-11 start, after going 31-23 in 2016.
In 12 games this spring, Stafford is hitting .310 with one home run and seven RBIs.
Although he’s excited for the potential to play professionally in about three months, Stafford is only worried about helping the Hawks win games and hopefully earn a postseason berth.
“These last two years, I’ve tried to make a name for myself for the next level,” Stafford said. “But right now, I’m just trying to have fun. This could be my last opportunity with this team.”
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