Even though the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is just days away, former Barron Collier baseball player Andy D’Alessio isn’t worried about it.
“I did all my worrying three years ago,” he said of the 2003 draft, when the Cincinnati Reds picked him in the 10th round.
D’Alessio, Clemson University’s All-Atlantic Coast Conference first baseman, has other pressing issues on his mind. His Tigers are the top seed in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament, whose regional round begins today. D’Alessio, a junior, could have one heck of a week if the Tigers advance to the super-regionals and a major league team snatches him in the early rounds on Tuesday.
But it’s the tournament — the destiny he can help control — that’s his primary focus.
The Tigers, the ACC champions, enter regionals at 47-14 and face UNC-Asheville tonight at 7 at home. D’Alessio had a feeling his team had the talent to reach that level.
“We have a lot of hitters in the lineup,” he said. “A couple of guys can get hot for a two- or three-week period of time and then another couple of guys will get hot. And our pitching staff has kept us in a lot of ballgames. They do a really good job of keeping teams off balance at the plate.”
D’Alessio has done his part and then some. He leads the ACC in home runs (20) and RBIs (75) and is second in slugging percentage (.640) and total bases (144). He was twice named National Player of the Week.
Don’t expect a cocky ball player preening over those numbers, Barron Collier baseball coach Ted Parsons said. He said that, for D’Alessio, it’s just a matter of doing what you’re supposed to do.
“Andy is a very relaxed, very humble kid,” Parsons said. “I called him up when he was National Player of the Week and he was like ‘yeah.’¤” He was kind of embarrassed about it.
“Andy’s thinking is that it was a job he had to do and he did his job,” Parsons added.
Parsons said those numbers came from a lot of hard offseason work and a lot of time in the batting cages. The power numbers always were there. The quest was to get the ball in play more. That happened this season, as D’Alessio’s average jumped from .276 in 2005 to .316.
D’Alessio said the batting cages were a big factor, as was some careful study of the majors’ best hitters.
“If Albert Pujols or David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez was on, I’d watch them to see how they hit,” he said. “I’m not saying I can do physically the things they can do, but I’d look at widening my stance and keeping my head still to see if they worked for me.”
D’Alessio could be in the professional ranks very soon. Numbers like his are very enticing to the pros. But he said the days preceding the MLB draft are different than the heavily analyzed NFL and NBA drafts. The calls he gets are from teams asking the lowest round a team can draft him for him to sign. He said anything up to the 10th round will work for him, but he knows nothings for sure. D’Alessio does have the option of returning to Clemson for his senior year.
“The draft is so unpredictable,” he said. “With one team, you could be the 50th guy off the board. On another, you can be the 500th guy off the board. I’m not going to put all my eggs in one basket.”