Amsterdam’s Stanavich thrilled to embark on pro baseball journey in Miami Marlins’ minor-league system

Amsterdam High School graduate Dale Stanavich, shown pitching from the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League in 2021 (Photo Provided)

Amsterdam High School graduate Dale Stanavich, shown pitching from the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League in 2021 (Photo Provided)

Through all the long, winding road of his young baseball career, Dale Stanavich never once lost faith that his moment was coming.

Stanavich’s road took him from Amsterdam High School, to Marshall University, to Herkimer Community College, to a COVID-19 pandemic year stuck back home in Amsterdam, to two years at Rutgers University, where he cemented himself as one of college baseball’s top relief pitchers.

On July 18, when the Miami Marlins came up in the eighth round of the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft, that moment came for Stanavich.

He was going to be a professional baseball player.

“It’s everything I dreamed of. I’ve been working the majority of my life for that moment, and I’m just so happy that it came true,” the left-handed pitcher said in a phone interview Thursday. “Through all of it, I never kept my eye off the goal. This was always the goal for me. Even when times were tough, I stayed focused.

“I knew this day was going to come. It was just a matter of time.”

The third-oldest of 10 siblings — many of them who’ve also stood out athletically in Amsterdam and gone on to compete at the collegiate level — Stanavich was surrounded by some of his large extended family when the 232nd overall pick came around, the call came from the Marlins and his name flashed on TV screen.

All at once, a huge wave of differing emotions washed over the 23-year-old.

“It was joyful, emotional, happy and excited, all in one,” he said. “All in about 30 seconds those emotions took place.”

After the moment sank in, Stanavich quickly pulled himself back to reality.

It was time to go to work.

“The first thing I did after I got drafted, I went right to Alpin Haus [fitness center] and got a workout in,” he said. “I had to make sure that I was ready to go.”

Two days later, he was flown to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he put pen to paper on his first professional contract.

Stanavich was assigned to the Marlins’ Rookie-level team, the FCL Marlins of the Florida Complex League. The team operates out of the Marlins’ spring training facility in Jupiter, Florida, alongside the club’s Low-A affiliate, the Jupiter Hammerheads.

It hasn’t taken long for Stanavich to embrace his routine.

“The staff here’s amazing. They have us waking up at 6:30 [a.m.] and they pick us up at the hotel, bring us to the complex and feed us breakfast and lunch,” he said. “We play our games right around noon. It’s just been a great time. I can’t believe they pay me to do this.”

He made his pro debut Sunday, striking out two of the three batters he faced in a scoreless inning, and picking up a priceless memento along the way.

“I got my first strikeout, and the umpire called time,” he said. “They threw the ball to the dugout, and they were able to give it to me after the game.

“I’m going to hold on to that one for a long, long time.”

Tuesday, he pitched a scoreless 10th inning against the FCL Mets, and when his teammates plated a run in the bottom of the 10th, Stanavich collected his first professional win.

That win came on the heels of a stellar 2022 season at Rutgers. His draft stock buoyed by his All-Cape Cod League performance as the closer for the Brewster Whitecaps in the summer of 2021, Stanavich dominated the Big Ten this past season for the Scarlet Knights. A member of both the All-Big Ten and ABCA/Rawlings East All-Region first teams, Stanavich went 1-3 with 10 saves, a 2.10 earned run average and 51 strikeouts against just nine walks in 34 1-3 innings for a Rutgers team that went 44-15 to set a program record for regular-season wins, but missed out on at-large selection for the NCAA tournament.

The FCL season is slated to last another three weeks, and when that comes to an end, Stanavich said he’ll find out whether the Marlins want him to continue to work into September — and perhaps a fall league — or conserve his left arm in preparation for 2023.

“I’ll be ready to go,” he said. “Any time they tell me to go in a game, I’ll be ready to give them everything I’ve got.”

Whatever happens, Stanavich is doing it all with thoughts of his supportive hometown — where he was a standout in football and basketball, as well as baseball — firmly in the forefront of his mind.

“Amsterdam as a whole, this community, they’ve had my back this whole time,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough for the love and support they’ve shown me. I’m just truly grateful.”

 

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