NYPL notes: Dent thinks defense first

Son of former Yankees shortstop offers options to Doubledays

Cody Dent was taken by the Nationals in the 20th round out of Florida in 2013. (Phil Sandlin/AP)

By Craig Forde / Special to MiLB.com | July 12, 2013 6:00 AM ET

As the only member of the University of Florida's highly regarded 2009 recruiting class to make it to a senior season, Cody Dent did all he could on defense to carve out a niche in the game.

While he watched fellow teammates become early-round draftees after their junior years, Dent returned to Gainesville and plied his trade with the leather, which paid off when he was selected in the 20th round of June's Draft by the Washington Nationals.

"It's what kept me in the lineup at Florida," said Dent of his defense. "I take pride in it."

A career .176 hitter in four years with the Gators, Dent is a walking example of why one should not look solely at the stats sheet when determining if a player is worthy of a shot.

With the majority of his work in college coming at the shortstop position, he was also able to seamlessly fill in at second, third and even in the outfield when called upon. Dent committed only 17 errors in his time with Florida, posting a .959 fielding percentage while turning 33 double plays and making the near-impossible look routine at times.

"I've worked all over the infield and outfield, so I'm ready to play wherever they want to put me," said Dent. "I want the pitcher to know that if the ball is hit to me, that it's an automatic out."

That ability to play numerous positions, especially up the middle of the field, has provided the Doubledays with an everyday option that they can trust to fill holes in an instant.

Thus far, Auburn has found a fit for Dent at second base, where he's played 11 of his 14 games and has yet to commit an error in 48 chances. He has misplayed only one ball since arriving in Auburn, and that was while at shortstop.

The son of former Major League All-Star Bucky Dent, who himself posted a career .976 fielding percentage in the bigs, Cody has been able to lean on his dad and learn from his experiences.

"He told me to keep working hard and grind through the tough times," said Dent of the advice his father has given him. "He supports whatever I do, and he is very excited for me. He is 100 percent behind me."

Now Cody will look to make a name for himself, and although he may not yet possess the bat that Bucky once did, he is already showing signs of improvement after making the jump into professional baseball.

With a few quick adjustments from his coaching staff, Dent jumped out to a .355 average with 11 hits in his first nine games.

"They've told me to stay short through the ball," said Dent, who credited hitting coach Luis Ordaz and manager Gary Cathcart with helping him at the plate. "I need to be staying on top of the ball and not cutting up at it as I had been."

A recent five-game hitless slump has brought Dent back to reality a bit, but he plugs on and learns more than just what it takes on the field to be a career ballplayer.

"It's a grind," said Dent of his new work schedule. "There are no midweek days off. We are two or three weeks in and it's starting to kick in now.

"I'm getting into a routine now and trying to focus on making my body and mind prepared each day."

In brief

Gallegos not walking the line: Staten Island Yankees pitcher Giovanny Gallegos has made five starts thus far this season and has yet to issue a single walk. His 23 innings of work are the most of any pitcher in the NYPL without having given up a free pass. Gallegos, who missed all of 2011 with a knee injury, has allowed just two walks over 50 innings as a pro.

There's no place like road: The friendly confines of Dutchess Stadium have not been kind to the Hudson Valley Renegades, who are 3-8 at home this year. Their traveling road show, however, has produced a 10-3 mark away from Wappingers Falls, a win total they did not reach until July 22 last season.

Washington streak snapped: State College first baseman David Washington had a 10-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday night at Aberdeen. He enjoyed a stretch of nine straight games with at least a hit and an RBI to start July, driving in 16 runs in that span and giving him a league-best 22 RBIs.

Cecchini hits DL: Gavin Cecchini, MLB.com's No. 6 Mets prospect, was placed on the disabled list earlier in the week with a left ankle injury. Selected 12th overall in the 2012 Draft, the Brooklyn shortstop was batting .259/.305/.315 through 15 games this year. Cecchini suffered a fractured middle figure that put an early end to his 2012 season.

Craig Forde 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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