Before he was slugging home runs in the national spotlight, Paul DeJong was a standout on both the diamond and in the classroom at Illinois State. Now the starting shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals, DeJong was part of the Redbirds for four seasons while also earning high honors pursuing a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology-biochemistry.
A native of Antioch, DeJong hit .326 in 144 career games for the Redbirds while belting 23 home runs. He had a 3.76 GPA as a pre-med student at Illinois State, resulting in his becoming a four-time recipient of the MVC Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award.
The two-time First-Team All-MVC selection has become a staple in the St. Louis lineup since being drafted in 2015. He was the National League Central champion’s lone representative in July’s All-Star game in Cleveland and was named a finalist for the 2019 Gold Glove award as shortstop.
In his third full year as a big-league player this past season, DeJong hit 30 home runs and 78 RBIs while playing in 159 of the club’s 162 regular-season games. He has a career .251 average for St. Louis with 74 home runs and 211 RBIs. In 2017, he was second in the National League rookie of the year voting.