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Johnny DeLuca was self-admittedly surprised when the Dodgers called him up to The Show over the weekend. The 24-year-old California kid grew up about 45 minutes away from Dodger Stadium and was a fan of the team he now plays for throughout his entire childhood, even into adulthood.
Thus, his call-up was a pretty incredible full-circle moment.
DeLuca spent his childhood watching and admiring Clayton Kershaw. The first player that he met upon arrival to the big league club? Clayton Kershaw.
DeLuca was selected in the 25th round of the 2019 MLB Draft after two years at Oregon. His rise to the Majors has been nothing short of impressive.
After the minor league season was cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2020, DeLuca began on the Single-A level in 2021. He hit 25 home runs between High-A Great Lakes and Double-A Tulsa last season, which led Los Angeles to add him to its 40-man roster this past winter so that he could not be selected by other teams in the Rule 5 Draft.
And then, following a solid spring training, DeLuca hit 14 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A Oklahoma City to begin the 2023 season. Now, after hitting .315 in just 17 games on the Triple-A level, he awaits his MLB debut after getting called up over the weekend.
To what does Jonny DeLuca attribute his success?
In part, an earring.
DeLuca, a California kid through and through, has one of the better looks in baseball.
Although the mustache comes and goes, a hoop earring dangling from his left ear is here to stay.
What inspired the earring? A slump.
DeLuca was hitting .199 with a .710 OPS through the first few weeks of his High-A season last year. That was on June 15, 2022.
If he wasn’t named the Midwest League Player of the Week seven days later, DeLuca told his hitting coach that he was going to get his ear pierced. He started to right the ship in the following outings, but didn’t get Player of the Week honors.
I had to change something, I had to do something. I heated up a little that week, hitting two home runs, but I didn’t get player of the week. So I stuck to my word, went to Claire’s in Midland, Michigan on a Monday and got the earring.— Jonny DeLuca, via Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times
DeLuca showed up to the next game with a single hoop earring and immediately caught fire. The young outfielder went 20-of-44 in his next 12 games with three dingers, 10 doubles and 16 RBIs.
As a result, DeLuca was named Midwest League Player of the Week for the next three weeks, and got promoted to Double-A shortly thereafter. The rest is history.
Jonny DeLuca’s earring is here to stay!