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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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DiValerio signs with the Boston Red Sox

DiValerio was named to the 2019 Philadelphia All-Big 5 Team. PHOTO COURTESY OF SIDELINE PHOTOS LLC

After Jordan DiValerio’s ’20 strong collegiate baseball career was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, the St. Joe’s baseball team’s right-handed pitcher hoped for the best amidst the uncertainty. 

“It was very upsetting to have the season end the way it did,” DiValerio said. “I knew it would be difficult, but I just kept training and throwing because possibly getting signed [by a professional team] was the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In a normal year, DiValerio would have been a draft prospect, but with the 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft cut from the usual 40 rounds to just five this year due to the pandemic, the market for undrafted free agent talent, such as DiValerio, was uncertain and unprecedented. 

With MLB scouts in search of baseball talent all over the country to add to their organization, and mostly everybody confined to their homes, DiValerio saw this as an opportunity to work hard and hone his skills despite the circumstances.

“I threw just about everyday to stay in shape and I had some weights at the house so I was able to lift,” DiValerio said. “It wasn’t the perfect set up, but I was lucky to have what I did.”

On June 14, just four days after the MLB draft took place, DiValerio would reach the “light at the end of the tunnel” by finally getting the opportunity to sign a free agent deal with the Boston Red Sox. 

“It feels amazing to be a part of such an incredible organization,” DiValerio said. “This is what I have worked hard for my whole life, but the hard work doesn’t stop now.”

Although a number of professional clubs were after DiValerio’s signature, what really sold him on joining the Red Sox was a special recruiting call that DiValerio received prior to his signing.

On the other end of the phone was seven time All-Star, 2018 World Series Champion and current Boston Red Sox ace, Chris Sale.

“Talking with him was great, he’s a really nice guy,” DiValerio said. “He told me that the Red Sox are the best organization in baseball and he’s really happy to have me be a part of it. The call really showed just how much they wanted me to be a part of the organization.”

At 6’1’”, DiValerio is an aggressive pitcher who likes to go right after hitters, but for Ray Fagnant, Boston Red Sox northeast regional scouting supervisor, what really stands out about DiValerio is his control and command on the mound. 

“Something that’s so rare is his control,” Fagnant said. “You look at his walks per inning and it’s consistently good and that’s something big that we look at, command of the strike zone.” 

But more importantly, the skill DiValerio can add to the Red Sox starting pitching rotation is what originally interested Fagnant. 

“We see him as a starter in the rotation able to go every fifth day, and that’s what really gives him a lot of value,” Fagnant said. “The ability to start gives him a lot of flexibility, it gives us a lot of flexibility, and it’s what we think he can do in the future.”

And although their season might have been cut short, St. Joe’s catcher Brian Vance said DiValerio competitiveness and leadership showed on the field, particularly being one of the seniors on this year’s squad.

“He’s always led with his actions, he would go out there every Friday and absolutely compete for us,” Vance said. “On days he was pitching, he’s locked in and really led with his actions.”

College baseball teams often start their best, or most reliable pitcher on Fridays, the role DiValerio often pitched in. On top of that, Vance highlighted DiValerio’s efficiency on the mound, citing his ability to throw an array of different pitches effectively as the reason why.

“The way he’s able to throw multiple pitches for strikes and throw them very efficiently, being able to fool hitters,” Vance said. “He’s one of the best Friday pitchers that I’ve caught so far in my career at St. Joe’s.”

With the MLB just recently announcing a plan to begin their 2020 season on July 23 or 24, they are slowly starting to get things back up and running, but unfortunately prospects like DiValerio haven’t been given much direction yet on what the plan is for their future.

“There hasn’t been any word about the minor leagues yet,” DiValerio said. “I just hope that I’ll be able to go play sometime this year.” 

For now, DiValerio will have to continue waiting for that ever elusive return to the baseball diamond, but with Major League Baseball and its Players Union finally agreeing on a deal to return amid the pandemic, that opportunity for DiValerio might be closer than it seems.

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