NILES - Luis DeJesus didn't see a demotion from Lake County to Mahoning Valley as a negative.
In fact, he wouldn't refer to it as a demotion at all.
"I was happy to help start the season for the Scrappers," DeJesus said. "This feels like home to me."
A Lufkin, Texas native, DeJesus spent one year at Angelina Junior College - the same school as current Cleveland pitcher Josh Tomlin. DeJesus, an 11th-round selection of the Indians in the 2011 first-year player draft, began his professional career in the Arizona League before coming to Mahoning Valley in 2012. He went 4-2 with a 2.02 earned run average and 52 strikeouts in 14 starts and earned Indians Minor League Player of the Week honors last August.
He ended the year as a relief pitcher for the Lake County Captains of the Class-A Midwest League.
"That was a good year for me," DeJesus said. "I hope to duplicate that success this year."
DeJesus spent the entire 2013 season on the Captains roster, but fell victim to arm problems which cut his year at 27 starts. He made two appearances for Lake County this season but was roughed up in each outing.
He had a total of just 1 2/3 innings with an astronomical 21.60 ERA.
DeJesus joined the Scrappers at the start of the season in June.
"I think this is the best place for me to get some focus back and work on my mechanics," DeJesus said.
He has started three games for the Scrappers, while making two relief appearances. His best outing came on July 4, in front of 5,320 fans at Eastwood Field when he struck out two batters and allowed just one baserunner in the ninth inning.
He has nine strikeouts on the year.
"My goal is always to give my team a chance to win when I'm on the mound," DeJesus said. "I'm still fairly young, but I've been pitching for a long time. I still have a long way to go in my career and I want to be able to pitch as long as I can.
"Mahoning Valley, for me, is the best place to ensure that I'm going in the right direction."
He credits that relaxed nature to manager Ted Kubiak and pitching coach Greg Hibbard.
"They were here for me in 2012 and I'm so happy to have them here now," DeJesus said. "They taught me how to keep my composure and just have fun. Baseball is a mental game and those guys have been around the game long enough to know how to handle many situations. They really help out in that regard."
The Scrappers are currently riding a seven-game losing streak, but that doesn't deter DeJesus' aspirations.
"Wins and losses are one thing, but getting better as opposed to getting worse is another," he said. "I want to play my best to move up again and move up through the organization."
Yes, even for DeJesus, the promotion is still better than the demotion of any kind.