Franklin’s Sylvester gets the call from L.A. Dodgers
Derrick Sylvester was following the Major League Draft online and had his phone ready. But none of that technology alerted Sylvester when he was selected in the 31st round by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. It was something much more old fashioned – a shout from his father, Dan.
The Sylvester family was gathered around the computer at their home in Franklin watching the draft unfold when Derrick noticed his phone battery was down to 9 percent life. So the 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher from Southern New Hampshire University went to find a charger. And that’s when it happened.
“I went up to my room and all of a sudden I hear my dad give a hoot and then my grandmother was like, ‘Oh, there’s your name,’ ” Sylvester said. “We were watching it all day and as soon as I took my eyes off it, that’s when it happened, and then they called me after that.”
The call came from Dodgers scout Rich DeLucia, who had seen Sylvester pitch during the college season and again at a tryout two weeks ago at Felician College in New Jersey. Since Los Angeles was one of the organizations that showed interest in him this spring, Sylvester wasn’t surprised to be selected by the Dodgers. But where they are going to send him remains a mystery.
Chances are good Sylvester will go to one of the rookie teams in Arizona. The other option would be a short-season A team in Utah, the Ogden Raptors. He just hasn’t heard anything yet.
Either way, it will be a long way from New Hampshire. So Sylvester was glad he got a chance to say goodbye to a crowd of old friends on Saturday at a graduation party for TJ Dow, who went to Franklin High and SNHU with Sylvester, and whose family happens to live right down the street from the Sylvester family.
“That was good because whenever it happens here over the next couple of days, whenever I find out where I’m going, it’s going to happen quick,” Sylvester said. “So it was really good to see everybody one last time before I head out.”
Sylvester was 9-2 with a 2.59 ERA this year at SNHU. He led the team in starts (13), innings (93.2) and strikeouts (100) featuring a fastball that ranged from 88-92 mph and a pair of effective off-speed pitches. He was the leader of a young pitching staff that helped the Penmen to a 41-14 record and a third straight NCAA Division II tournament appearance. He was named the MVP of the Northeast-10 tournament, was a consensus all-region selection, a first-team all-conference pick, a first-team academic all-America selection, and finished as SNHU’s all-time leader in wins (20).
Despite all that positive production, Sylvester was getting a touch anxious as the draft droned on and his name wasn’t called.
“Everybody that I talked to told me I was going to get drafted, it was just a matter of when,” Sylvester said. “But then once the 30th round hit, and there were only 10 rounds left, I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. I thought maybe because I was a senior they’d rather have me be a free agent sign or something. So once it did happen, it was a relief almost. And I ended up going to a good organization, (DeLucia) is a really good guy, so it worked itself out.
“My family is a really good support system, they backed me up with everything, not just baseball, so if it didn’t work out, it would have been okay. But this is definitely something I’ve dreamt about since I was in Little League.”
Sylvester wasn’t the only Penmen drafted on Saturday. Third-baseman Riley Palmer from Goffstown also went in the 31st round, taken eight picks before Sylvester (who was 939 overall) by the Baltimore Orioles. Three SNHU players, all pitchers, were drafted last year – Junior Mendez (16th round) and Jon Massad (25th round) both went to Oakland and Alex Powers (25th round) went to the Chicago White Sox. Sylvester has stayed in touch with all three of them, and all three are still on professional rosters, which is a good sign.
“Seeing what those guys did in our conference and then go to the next level and compete, it just shows you the type of baseball we play up here in New Hampshire is just as good as what they play down south or on the west coast,” Sylvester said. “But now that I’ve been drafted, I know it’s up to me. If I perform, I’ll keep moving up. If I don’t, I won’t.”
(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)