Pioneer notes: Dalesandro ready for anything

Arizona 10th-rounder plans to stick behind plate, can play outfield

Nick Dalesandro had three hits over two Arizona League games before coming to the Osprey. (Freek Bouw/Phrake Photography)

By Fritz Neighbor / Special to MLB.com | July 4, 2018 11:00 AM

It's easy to believe that, since Nick Dalesandro was Purdue's main catcher for just one season, the current Missoula Osprey backstop is a long shot to climb the ladder at that position.

But that's not the whole story.

For one, Dalesandro -- who went to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 10th round of this year's Draft -- can play a lot of positions. For another, he grew up a catcher.

"My dad kind of groomed me into that position," said the Illinois native, whose father, Mark Dalesandro, played 73 games at catcher over four seasons in the Major Leagues. "He told me, 'You'll thank me later on in life.'

"You can do a lot of things at catcher. You don't have to hit as much, as long as you can control a staff and be able to catch and throw."

The object, as with all Minor League players, is to advance. Dalesandro, an excellent all-around athlete, figured a year behind the plate at Purdue could only help his Draft status.

"In high school, I was a center fielder and pitcher," he said. "And I got to college and still pitched and played the outfield."

His junior season at Purdue he started calling signals, but ended up playing more games in the outfield (32) than at catcher (23).

"This year, they asked me what I wanted to do and I told them I wanted to be a catcher," Dalesandro said. "It could be the best way for me, looking down the line, to make it to the big leagues."

So even while racking up an eye-opening 27 steals in 30 attempts this spring for the Boilermakers, he spent time behind the plate. He hit .297.MiLB include

In Missoula, he's hitting .351 over 10 games. He joined the team on June 24 -- stepping foot in Montana for the first time -- and was inserted into the second game of a Pioneer League doubleheader at designated hitter.

He's caught four games and thrown out 3-of-5 would-be basestealers.

"He's a good athlete," said Jose Amado, Missoula's hitting coach and catching instructor. "He was saying he was an outfielder just last year, but if you're a good athlete, you'll be able to make those kinds of adjustments."

Amado approves of Dalesandro's plan: certainly some Major League position players can catch, but how many catchers can take a spot in the outfield? He also likes Dalesandro's arm, his good feet behind the plate and his "quiet" hands.

"There are catchers that are a little raw, boxing the ball and stuff," Amado said. "He has good hands."

A few weeks after completing a 38-21 season at Purdue, Dalesandro is part of an Osprey team that is 11-7 and leads the Pioneer League's Northern Division. He gives credit to Arizona extended spring training instructor Jonny Gomes for a head start on hitting professional pitching, but he's more excited to make the best of his "new" calling.

"I couldn't be more thankful for the playing time I've gotten here," he said.

In brief

Two-way player: Lost in Orem's 17-0, seven-inning win over Ogden on June 18 was Ogden third baseman Jefrey Souffront taking the mound in the fifth inning -- with the bases loaded, after Riley Richert walked four hitters -- and striking out the side. Also lost? Souffront, a 21-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, has been hitting .348 (8-for-23) since.

Papa Coco: Grand Junction second baseman Coco Montes, a 15th-round pick out of South Florida, has hit in every game since an off day on June 19, going 26-for-52 (.500) and pushing his average to a Pioneer League-best .455. He hit his third home run on July 2. He also leads the league in OPS (1.278).

Fritz Neighbor is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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