Baseball – Martorano and Dalatri Both Selected on Final Day of MLB Draft
The Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft might not have played out exactly like Brandon Martorano and Luca Dalatri had envisioned, but on the bright side, it is now likely the two will be teammates for at least another three seasons.
The Christian Brothers Academy duo was selected in the late rounds on the final day of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft Saturday. Both Dalatri and Martorano were ranked as two of the top 250 players in the draft class, according to Baseball America, but their commitments to the University of North Carolina made it difficult for Major League Clubs to fit either into their draft plans given the limits placed on signing-bonus money.
The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Martorano in the 30th round with the 899th overall selection Saturday, making him the second Shore Conference player to be drafted by Arizona. The Diamondbacks took Toms River North third baseman Joey Rose in the fifth round on Friday.
Like teammate and fellow battery-mate Dalatri, Martorano signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of North Carolina and will head to Chapel Hill if he and his representation cannot come to a contract agreement – a likely scenario given the late-round selection.
Three years ago, Jackson Memorial catcher Matt Thaiss was selected in the 32nd round by the Boston Red Sox and after spending three years at Virginia, ascended to the No. 16 overall pick this year.
The Colorado Rockies snatched up Dalatri with their final pick of the draft in round 40, the 1,190th pick out of 1,216 total selections.
Dalatri is just three days removed from finishing his record-setting high school baseball career. Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Middletown South was the 35th of Dalatri’s career, which broke a 10-year-old Shore Conference career record, and it was also the 30th consecutive winning decision for the CBA right-hander dating back to the start of his sophomore season.
Scouts that checked in on Dalatri this season saw the consistent excellence that has become his hallmark. For the third straight year, he demonstrated impeccable control that was even better than previous years. Dalatri walked only four batters during the entire 2016 season and struck out 118 in 67 innings of work. He also allowed only 28 hits and pitched to a 0.42 ERA.
In a four-year varsity career, Dalatri posted a 35-2 record with a 0.67 ERA with a strikeout-to-walk ratio better than 10-to-1 (370 strikeouts and 36 walks). After going 5-2 with a 1.25 ERA as a freshman, Dalatri put up a three-year run that is unprecedented in the Shore Conference. He went 11-0 with a 0.39 ERA as a sophomore with 90 strikeouts and 12 walks, then followed that breakout season up by going 9-0 with a 0.88 ERA as a junior. During that junior campaign, Dalatri struck out 122 and walked just seven and in those three seasons, he combined to go 30-0 with a 0.57 ERA while striking out 330 and walking 23.
While Dalatri’s performance steadily improved, so has his repertoire. His fastball was consistently between 87 and 91 miles-per-hour and he flashed an ability to rush it up to 93. Scouts had been hoping to see Dalatri reach the mid-90-miles-per-hour range or more consistently work at 93 miles-per-hour, but there was still plenty of interest and positive reviews on his ability and upside – albeit not enough for any to take a gamble earlier in the draft.
In Martorano, the Diamondbacks have drafted a player who has the tools to continue as a catcher and is also athletic enough and a powerful enough hitter to move to the outfield, according to a number of scouts. Between his junior and senior season, Martorano added 15-to-20 pounds to what was a wiry, 6-foot-2-inch frame.
Although Martorano focused on adding mass for his senior year, it was not because of a lack of junior-year power. The CBA catcher broke out with 11 home runs, nine doubles and two triples in 108 at-bats, good for an .870 slugging percentage as a junior. He belted eight of those homers in the last month of the season and his season-closing hot streak helped carry CBA to championships in the Monmouth County, Shore Conference and NJSIAA Non-Public A Tournaments.
After capturing the Shore Sports Network Player of the Year award as a junior, he stayed hot during the summer travel and showcase circuit, which propelled him into the top 75 players in the Class of 2016 according to Baseball America. He checked in at No. 208 on Baseball American’s latest ranking of players in the 2016 Draft Class.
This past season, Martorano hit exactly .400 with five home runs, eight doubles and 24 RBI while playing behind the plate. Although he did not match his junior-year extra-base totals, Martorano consistently hit the ball with authority.
For his career, Martorano finished with a .391 average, 23 doubles, seven triples, 18 home runs, 80 runs scored and 79 RBI.
In total, 10 players with Shore Conference roots were selected in this year’s draft – four straight out of high school and six more from college programs. In addition to Martorano, Dalatri and Rose, Barnegat left-hander Jason Groome was selected No. 12 overall by the Boston Red Sox on Thursday.