By Jerry Del Priore
It’s not often that I comment or write about baseball prospects, other than ones from the New York Mets, my favorite team. But Dario Pizzano is a player I interviewed in May of 2012, after he finished up his third season with the Columbia University Lions.
At the time, the then-21-year-old was contemplating entering the 2012 June major league first-year player draft, which he did. The Seattle Mariners plucked Pizzano in the 15th round, and he has been performing well at the professional level ever since.
Pizzano smacked four home runs and 28 RBI, to go along with an impressive batting average of .354, and an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of .949 across two levels (short season A and rookie ball).
Pizzano played well in full-season A ball with the Clinton LumberKings in 2013, batting .311 with eight dingers and 70 RBI, while swiping a career-best eight bases. But he struggled a little bit the following campaign with the Advanced A High Desert Mavericks and AA Jackson Generals, posting a combined .244 average with 11 long balls and 76 RBI.
Regrouping and readjusting to higher level pitching in 2015, though limited by a season-ending hand injury on June 25th, Pizzano raked to the tune of .308 with 13 doubles, four triples, four round trippers and 33 RBI in 221 at-bats in AA.
The Mariners sent him to the Arizona Fall League following the season, and Pizzano did a good job handling the game’s best young talent.
This year, the Mariners have invited the 24-year-old left fielder to spring training in Peoria, Arizona, where he’ll get to show Seattle’s brass his impressive skill set.
The biggest question is whether he can defend left field able enough to not be considered a liability at the corner outfield spot? Pizzano has a .983 career fielding percentage and has made 10 outfield assists in four seasons. Not bad, but not head-turning. He made substantial improvements defensively in 2015, however, not committing an error in 208.1 innings, with three outfield assists.
It’s a long shot for Pizzano, a former little league World Series hero, to make the club out of spring training. But an impressive showing can bolster his chances of making the team in the future, and may give him an outside prospect of cracking the roster to start the season.
But who knows? Anything can happen; it’s baseball. And if it doesn’t, Pizzano will get the opportunity to fine-tune his diamond talents at, most likely, the AAA level with the Tacoma Rainiers.
If he performs well in Tacoma, he’ll quickly rise up on the rankings of Seattle’s prospect list. Thus, warranting a late-season call up to the big club, which I expect to happen.