Justin D’Alessandro waited patiently to hear his name announced during this year’s MLB Draft but it never happened. But before he he had a chance to blink after the last name was called, the Toronto Blue Jays were on the phone, asking the 22-year old from Pittsburgh to sign with their organization.
“When I received the call, I had just finished my shift at work and was hanging out around the house, waiting for my name to be called in the draft. Once I got the call from Bobby Gandolfo, my area scout, I felt more relieved than anything else,” he said.
“When the reality of everything set in, I was pretty excited, knowing that all the work I put in over the years had finally paid off.”
When asked whether he was surprised he was not drafted or if shocked that the Blue Jays called over other interested teams, D’Alessandro replied: “The Nationals initially showed interest. They had come to watch me play on multiple occasions and had invited me to their pre-draft workout. However, the Blue Jays had also been in touch with me, so I was confident that I would be signed by one of those teams, whether through the draft or free agency.
“I was a little surprised I was not drafted, but not necessarily disappointed, just fortunate to be given an opportunity.”
Both the Nationals and the Blue Jays saw a lot of talent in D’Alessandro as throughout his career at the Catholic University of America, he posted a 4-3 record and lead his team with a 3.64 ERA while striking out 40 in 42 innings.
“My favorite memory as a Cardinal was senior day, where we clinched a spot in the conference tournament. It was a great way to send off for us seniors, getting a win in our last ever home game. Going to Catholic allowed me to earn a degree in Architecture and also play baseball, without compromising my studies. I was also fortunate to experience four years in D.C, and make a lot of close friends throughout that time.”
When he was not studying and playing for the Cardinals in during the school year, D’Alessandro played for East End, where he had his father, Ed D’Alessandro, as his manager, and his brother, Jonathan, as a teammate.
“During my childhood, as well as my high school and college career, my Dad was always involved with the summer teams I played on, so my best memories span throughout that time. I grew up in the city, so when I was young I played in Pittsburgh’s “B.I.G.” league, as it was called. I have countless memories playing with all of my friends, spending quality time on the field with my Dad, and with my younger brother Jonathan, who I played with almost every year, including my senior year at Catholic.
“My favourite memory came when we made it to the city champtionship, where we received the opportunity to play at PNC Park under the lights, and I was honored to get to pitch.
“Once I started playing in college, my father set us both up in the Pittsburgh Federation League, where a lot of current and former college players, as well as former pro’s around the area play summer ball. Last summer, I took an internship in D.C, and played in the Maryland Collegiate Baseball League, which was a great experience as well.
“Playing professionally has always been my dream, and my Dad has been my biggest fan.”
Throughout his time in college, high school, Collegiate Baseball leagues, and with East End, D’Alessandro gained a variety skills; however, this Blue Jays prospect states that his best skill on the mound is his competitive nature.
“In my opinion, something I take the most pride in, is my ability to compete even when I do not have my best stuff on the hill. I do not get rattled, and I rarely show any emotion when I am out there. As a pitcher, it is not a given that you will click on all cylinders every time you have the ball. Regardless of whether my fastball, curveball, slider, or change up are at their best that day, I am still confident that I will win the battle.”
These skills have enabled him to find much success throughout his baseball career. Including, what he claimed to be his best game, when he was in the Maryland Collegiate Baseball League, where he threw a 1-hit, 14 strikeout game.
Modestly, the right-hander, also shared with JaysProspects his worse game as well: “I pitched a JV game my sophomore year of high school. I walked the bases loaded two or three times. I had no clue where the ball was going.”
Throughout each and every up and down, D’Alessandro admitted that his friends, family, and coaches have always been there for support. “What has helped me to get to this point in my career has been my strong work ethic on my end, coupled with the encouragement of my family, friends, and teammates, and coaches. If I named everyone who deserves a piece in my success to this point, I would not be able to finish this interview,” he stated, adding, “So if you are reading this, I am sure you know who you are, and I just want to say thank you!”
In concluding, D’Alessandro shared with JaysProspects just how much he loves sports. “I am one of those people who can sit through the same loop of ESPN, or anything sports related, over and over, and still be interested. Last summer I spent in DC, I don’t think I used my remote. MLB Network was my go to, and as I didn’t have that channel at home, I had to take advantage!”
JaysProspects wishes Justin D’Alessandro nothing but success in his future (and even making it on the MLB Network). We also kindly thank him for his time.