Bobby Dalbec tried to take the guesswork out of the hands of scouts in the weeks leading up to his final season at the University of Arizona. Though his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame generated a 92-94 mph fastball and a pair of solid offspeed pitches, suggesting the right-hander could be a workhorse as a professional, the two-way standout stressed his desire to play the game on a daily basis.
"In the fall when I met with all the teams, I made it pretty clear that I wanted to hit at the next level," Dalbec said. "At the end of the season, when my production wasn't as good as it was supposed to be, the contact with quite a few teams weeded out. Still, a few teams were still on me about hitting and that's when Boston picked me up."
After garnering a plethora of honors in his first two seasons in Tucson, Dalbec showed his potential at the plate in the summer of 2015 when he hit 12 home runs in 27 games in the Cape Cod League. Despite his obvious power, critics noted that he fanned 56 times in 116 at-bats, and some suggested his swing-and-miss tendencies could make a career on the mound more profitable.
Dalbec didn't silence his naysayers when the trend continued during his junior year. Granted, his bat remained potent, as evidenced by his seven home runs and 40 RBIs, but his batting average slipped from .319 as a sophomore to .260. Meanwhile, on the mound, Dalbec dominated in the postseason, going 2-1 with a 1.90 ERA in four games and striking out a career-high 12 Oklahoma State batters during the College World Series. Overall, he was an impressive 11-6 with a 2.50 ERA for the national runner-up.
Despite his success on the bump, Dalbec remained determined to pursue a role as a position player. He received his wish when the Red Sox drafted him the fourth round with the 115th overall selection. Sent to Lowell in the New York-Penn League, he let his bat do his talking by hitting .386/.427/.674 with 13 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 33 RBIs.
Promoted to Greenville to open the 2017 campaign, he went 20-for-82 in April before batting .364/.444/.500 in his first six outings of May. Dalbec has 43 strikeouts in 104 at-bats, the most in the SAL, but he also has 13 walks to go with four doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs.
Video: Greenville's Dalbec swats first SAL homer
"Everything has gone real well," Dalbec said. "My first short-season was good, and I did a lot on the physical aspects of the game during the offseason. I'm just trying to get in a groove after getting off to somewhat of a slow start this year. I realize it's my first full season and it's more of a marathon than a sprint. I just have to stay within myself and not sell out too much."
Dalbec has made impressive strides defensively at third base as well, working tirelessly with roving infield instructor Andy Fox on some of the nuances to become more consistent. Scouts believe he has quickness to remain at the hot corner at higher levels and obviously has the arm strength to play the position.
"I think the key is to try to make every day like Opening Day," Dalbec said. "I want to get in the mind-set where last night, particularly if it was a bad game, does not carry over and affect me the next day. You just have to let it go and start fresh the next day."
Humphreys nearly unhittable: Columbia right-hander Jordan Humphreys opened the season with a 6-0 record in his first six starts, all of which have gone at least into the sixth inning. In addition to leading the league in victories, the Mets' 18th-round pick out of a Florida high school in 2015 ranked first in the SAL with 49 strikeouts, second in innings pitched (38.2) and WHIP (0.70), third in batting average against (.153) and eighth in ERA (1.63) through May 9.
DeVito's dominance: Lexington first baseman Chris DeVito has been as strong at the plate as Humphreys has been on the mound. DeVito leads the SAL with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs, thanks in part to 14 multi-hit games in his first 30 contests. He also paces the circuit in slugging percentage (.702), total bases (85) and hits (42), is tied for first with 21 extra-base hits and ranks third in runs (25) and fifth in batting average (.347).
Hitting streaks piling up: Eight players in the SAL have already had hitting streaks of at least 10 games this season. Hagerstown's Nick Banks owns the longest thus far -- 13 through May 9. He was 16-for-38 (.333) during the stretch that began April 26. Kannapolis' Micker Adolfo (17-for-44, .386) owns an 11-game string, while Hickory's Leody Taveras (17-for-43, .395) is currently riding a 10-game streak.