TODAY   |  April 20, 2014

Ouch! Baseball player hit in face by 90-mph fastball

Astros prospect Delino DeShields Jr. was hit in the face by a pitch Friday night, fracturing his cheek and leaving him with a baseball-sized swelling. “I feel a little awkward in the face,” DeShields told TODAY.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a minor league baseball player is on the mend this morning just two days after he was hit in the face by a 90 mile an hour fast ball. it's incredible that he stood up just moments after he was hit. but some of you still may find this a little tough to watch. here's nbc's kerry sanders with the story.

>> reporter: minor league ball. top of the seventh. batter delino deshields , a 90 mile per hour fast ball, high and --

>> inside! and it hits deshields on the helmet.

>> reporter: a look again at that fast ball. a pitch that was just inches from hitting his helmet. instead a direct hit to deshields' face.

>> you can hear the thud.

>> reporter: delino deshields jr. is a starting center fielder for corpus christi . he tweeted this gruesome picture of himself from the hospital. that's not photo shopped. doctors say the incident at home plate fractured his cheek. hours later another photo. thumb's up. deshields tweeting, i'm doing fantastic. blessed to see another day.

>> a little loopy on meds right now. but feeling good. not really much pain. feel a little awkward in the pace.

>> reporter: the 21-year-old houston astros prospect says he doesn't remember what happened. just the aftermath.

>> and i was like, i can't look if it's as bad as i think. i looked in the mirror. i was like, wow. and i started laughing.

>> reporter: at the test facility in st. louis, it's clear the damage a ball can do to a player. this is what a 90 mile an hour fast ball looks like when it strikes a watermelon.

>> baseball is a relatively safe sport. thankfully we don't see these kind of injuries very often. but it really makes sense to me to start thinking about protecting people's faces.

>> reporter: deshields says he's unfazed and he'll be back. the real test, of course, will be when he's back in the batter's box. his father, a former major leaguer himself, thinks his son will be fine.

>> i don't think he'll have a problem getting back on the horse. he's a tough kid. he'll be back.

>> reporter: like all injured athletes, deshields is anxious to return to play. but that won't happen until doctors give him the all clear. for today, kerry sanders , nbc news, miami.

>> we're just glad he's able to talk about it.

>> i'm shocked that he can talk about it. that visual with the watermelon, too. what a great way to set it up, but ow.