Chase De Jong became the first player in history to play at both Constellation Field and Minute Maid Park in the same season.
De Jong started the year pitching in the pop-up Constellation Energy League in Sugar Land – a four-team league created by the independent baseball team Sugar Land Skeeters – and is now on the 40-man roster for the Houston Astros. Although he isn’t the first Skeeters player to reach the Major Leagues, he is the second to make the leap in a single season and the first to do it locally.
Just prior to De Jong’s call-up, Brett Eibner was called up to the Miami Marlins active roster. They are two of seven players in the Constellation Energy League to move up to MLB this season.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity. The last year to 14 months of my career has been such a whirlwind,” De Jong said after making his first appearance in relief for the Astros on Aug. 25 against the Los Angeles Angels.
He lasted less than an inning, giving up a hit, two earned runs, and a base on balls. It wasn’t unlike his professional debut, also at Minute Maid Park, on April 5, 2017, when he took the loss by giving up a three-run homer to George Springer in bottom of the 13th inning in the Astros’ 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.
He was with the Mariners in 2017, traded to the Minnesota Twins in 2018, and then released and signed with the Skeeters in 2019. When the Constellation Energy League was created for a two-month stint, he became the ace for Team Skeeters. De Jong made five starts, going 1-2 with a 3.18 ERA and striking out 27 batters in 17 innings pitched.
In the offseason, De Jong returned home to Southern California where his wife learned to catch for him while he worked on his mechanics, bringing the speed of his pitches from the mid-80s to the lower 90s. That was evident upon his return to Sugar Land.
“It’s a great place to play,” he said of Constellation Field. “As far as indy ball goes, it’s top notch. This season, the Zlotniks, the ownership over there, they put together the Constellation Energy League and I’m eternally grateful for that because I needed somewhere to show that ‘hey, I’ve made adjustments and I’m still a very good pitcher.’
“And I wouldn’t have had anywhere to play if they had decided to shut down baseball like the Minor Leagues and everything like that. So, I am grateful for the opportunity to play there at the end of last season and the beginning of this to showcase my ability and to catch notice of the Astros,” he said.
The 26-year-old was the second player from the Constellation Energy League to be called-up by the Astros. Fernando Rodney made one appearance for Team Skeeters before the Astros snatched him up. He has been on the taxi squad and has yet to make the active roster.
As of Monday, the Astros were second in the American League West at 19-14, just 2.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics. The Astros are hosting the Texas Rangers for three games this week before heading to Los Angeles for four games with the Angels.