Jeffrey Alan Deardorff
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 220 lb.
- High School South Lake High School
Deardorff was 1 for 10 for the USA in the 1996 World Junior Championship. He was a backup outfielder for the Bronze Medalists, behind Michael Cuddyer and Rick Ankiel most notably. The Milwaukee Brewers took him in the 3rd round of the 1997 amateur draft.
Jeff made his pro debut with the 1997 Ogden Raptors, hitting .275/.359/.405 but fielding only .845 at third base. Amazingly, his 27 errors did not lead all third basemen in the short-season Pioneer League. Deardorff moved up in 1998 to the Beloit Snappers, where he improved his fielding percentage to .918 while batting .255/.318/.414 with 125 strikeouts in just 326 AB.
In 1999, the Michigan City native continued his free-swinging ways, now with the Stockton Ports, with 150 whiffs in 436 at-bats while drawing 40 walks. He led all Brewers farmhands in Ks. He led all California League third basemen with 36 errors but also with 91 putouts, fielding .889. He hit .266/.335/.394. He was 4th in the Cal League in strikeouts.
Deardorff produced at a .245/.296/.397 rate for the 2000 Mudville Nine but cut his strikeout total to 120 while fielding .901 at the hot corner. He hit 7 triples to tie Santiago Perez for the most in the Milwaukee minor leagues. In '01, Jeff showed big strides with the High Desert Mavericks (.304/.360/.554, 15 HR, 57 RBI in 69 G) and the Huntsville Stars (.279/.327/.552, 14 HR, 43 RBI in 58 G) while moving to first base and the outfield primarily. Deardorff was 2 RBI shy of leading the Milwaukee chain and his 29 homers were 3 behind Milwaukee minor league leader Lance Burkhart.
That earned Deardorff his second stint with Team USA. In the 2001 Baseball World Cup, he hit .304/.370/.522 while splitting left field with Carl Crawford and DH with Marty Malloy. In the Gold Medal game, he did not play as the USA fell to Cuba, 5-3.
Jeff remained at AA with Huntsville in 2002, hitting .254/.353/.447 with 19 home runs while making just two errors as a OF-1B. His 131 strikeouts paced all Milwaukee minor leaguers but he was now drawing walks well with 60. He was third in the Southern League in circuit clouts, one behind co-leaders Pete LaForest and David Kelton. Despite his progress in 2001-2002, Milwaukee put him on waivers and he was claimed by the Minnesota Twins.
Deardorff did very well in 2003. He hit .316/.377/.517 in 108 games for the New Britain Rock Cats and .299/.324/.537 in 20 for the Rochester Red Wings. Overall, he had 81 RBI, 19 home runs, 35 doubles and 18 steals in 24 tries. He tied for the most Ks by a Minnesota farmhand with 130 but his 249 total bases led all players in their farm system, beating out Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau among others. He was 3 home runs behind Morneau. He placed 5th in the Eastern League in slugging and 7th in average. As Jeff had just turned 25, it was not unreasonable to think he would make the majors shortly but that never happened. He would spend his next three years exclusively in AAA.
After becoming a free agent, Deardorff signed with the New York Yankees. In 2004, the Indiana native hit .269/.346/.438 for the Columbus Clippers with 18 home runs and 76 RBI, both second on the club to Andy Phillips. He moved back to third and fielded only .900, his 21 errors leading the 2004 International League at the hot corner. As the Yanks had Alex Rodriguez at third in the majors, Deardorff had no shot at a call-up.
Deardorff next signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for 2005. He batted .250/.331/.440 with 15 homers for their Durham Bulls club and also pitched a shutout inning once. Mainly playing the outfield, he again spent all year at AAA before joining Team USA for a third time.
Jeff's batting line in the 2005 Baseball World Cup was .267/.378/.567 with a team-high 10 RBI in 9 games. He split right field with Chris Latham and left field with Dee Brown. Deardorff led the team in RBI, beating out Mike Cervenak, Bryan LaHair, Josh Phelps, Ben Zobrist, Lastings Milledge, Brown, Latham and Rob Johnson while the USA finished out of the Medal round in a disappointing turn.