Photo courtesy Jim Davidson of the o-zone.net
If the 2009 minor league season were to receive a grade, from a Buckeyes perspective it would only be fitting that it would be an A+.
Showing Chris Webb is indeed human and subject to an occasional error, in combing minor league rosters, a sick leisure activity for me (yes I'm not normal) I encountered a familiar name on an unfamiliar team. Wearing #22 and pitching for the Dunedin Blue Jays, hails a 6'4 lefty from Columbus, Ohio named Daniel DeLucia.
That's right folks, the only three-time captain in Ohio State baseball history is currently in the minor league, and playing pretty darn well.
I'm not entirely sure how I missed this, how nothing has been spread by my accountes, but a player with the class, talent, and passion for the game like DeLucia deserves praise and mention.
DeLucia started the 2009 professional season on a delayed note, he was released from the Tigers organization after spring training. He made a few trips to Bill Davis Stadium to support his former teammates, and could even be heard on the radio as he called the Purdue series for 103.9 WTDA. DeLucia would eventually sign and play with the Winnipeg Goldeneyes of the Northern League. His time in Canada paid dividends.
Putting two and two together, one can assume that while pitching for the Goldeneyes, the Canadian MLB team, the Toronto Blue Jays either caught word or saw Dan perform well. Fast forward to late June and DeLucia is signed, in the Blue Jays system, and like Geese in October, heads south to Florida.
In the Gulf Coast League, playing for the Blue Jays Rookie Ball affiliate, Dan appeared in three games, tossing two innings of three hit, no run ball. Given DeLucia's age, his skill, and experience, once the Blue Jays saw he was minor league ready and has potential, DeLucia by passed short-season A, low A, and found himself in Advance A ball, playing for the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League.
The Blue Jays mark the 6th Advanced A team that a former Buckeye has played on. 2007 draftee Matt Angle is currently a Frederick Key in the Carolina League, as was 2006 8th round pick Jedidiah Stephen. Joining them in the Carolina League is another '07 product in Eric Fryer, who accounts for two A+ teams alone. Fryer started the season as a Tampa Yankee in the Florida State League before being traded to the Pirates from the Yanks, and is now a Lynchburg HillCat. Moving over to the left coast, in the California League, 2008 draftee JB Shuck is a Lancaster JetHawk, and before being promoted to AA San Antonio the first of the 2007 trio, Cory Luebke played for Lake Elsinore Storm.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of Luebke and make a rise to AA as a left-handed pitcher is DeLucia. Though coming out of the 'pen, opposed to Cory going every fifth game, DeLucia has been just as impressive. DeLucia is 1-0, appearing in six games. You can't find a better ERA, as Dan's sits at 0.00, not allowing a run in 12.2 innings pitched, only conceding five hits in that time. As a result opponents are hitting a microscopic .119 off of the Watterson Eagle alumnus, striking out 10 times against three free passes.
It is really great to see Dan get another chance, and so far, doing well in making the most of it. Not only was DeLucia the only three-time captain at Ohio State, but he was one of the best leaders, and team players you'll find. DeLucia worked rigorously to come back in 2008 for a fifth and final season after seeing his 2007 season cut short due to Tommy-John surgery. Just knowing that DeLucia can come back from that, you know DeLucia will do whatever it takes to climb the ladder. The Buckeye Nine will be there supporting Dan and following his progression. My apologies to DeLucia for the previous oversights, and we wish him well.
DeLucia's MiLB page