Joe Deluca, “The Underdog”
This week after a grueling workout, Saint Rose College Catcher, Joe Deluca sat down with me to discuss his college career, our training this summer, and much more.
Joe, began his college career at Niagara County Community College where he played in 43 games as a sophomore. He hit .381 with 4 home runs, 13 doubles, 36 rbiʼs, and was named the team MVP. He was also invited to many pre-draft workouts, and was on many MLB draft boards after his impressive 2015 campaign. After the draft was complete, Joe furthered his baseball career at Saint Rose College, where he was the starting catcher for all 41 games in the 2016 season. This summer Joe played in the NYCBL (New York Collegiate Baseball League) for the Syracuse Junior Chiefs, where he was an eastern league all-star. After joining the Junior Chiefs, half way through the season, Joe finished the summer batting .302 with 14 doubles, and 21 RBIʼS in 36 games started.
Joe, what most people donʼt know about you, is that playing baseball in college was not always guaranteed for you. Talk a little about your journey to playing college baseball.
Joe: Playing in high school was tough. I moved in with my dad when I was in tenth grade and played JV baseball at Cicero North Syracuse. In eleventh grade I made varsity team and only got 12 at bats. Then my senior year, I was told I wasnʼt good enough to play, and was cut.
After getting cut as a senior, did you think baseball was over?
Joe: No, I didnʼt think it was going to be over, I just thought it was going to be another chapter in my life, and another obstacle to overcome. When I came home that day, and told my dad he said, “Well, gotta get better”. So we worked out, trained, and hit everyday so it would never happen again. So out of high school I didnʼt know what I was going to do as far as playing in college. Luckily, my junior college coach, Matt Clingersmith saw me at a Babe Ruth 18U game, and offered me a chance to play, and I jumped at the opportunity.
What would you say to kids struggling to get a college scholarship, or kids that have been cut in high school or college, but want to keep pursuing their dreams of playing baseball at the next level?
Joe: Keep persevering, be determined, never give up, and use that chip on your shoulder to dominate the opposition. Make them regret cutting you, or telling you that you’re not good enough to play. Also keep playing. Many people say junior college isnʼt a good fit, but it gives you a great chance to play immediately and really develop your skills. If I had to do it all again, I would pick the JUCO route every time.
With that being said, college is back in session at the end of the month for most schools. Whatʼs your biggest advice to incoming freshman that are playing baseball in college and donʼt know what to expect?
Joe: Control what you can control. Work hard, hustle, donʼt rely on other people, and donʼt make excuses. My junior college coach had a saying that has stuck with me. Do what your told when no one is looking. That is the definition of character in my eyes.
How has strength training recently helped your game
Joe: Before this summer Iʼve always struggled with speed and strength training. I was never fast, and ran a 7.3, 60 yard dash. It held me back in what I could do on the field, especially at Saint Rose for my junior season. So this summer, when I got the chance to play in Syracuse, and found out you were here too, I jumped at the opportunity to work together, because I knew youʼve been doing this your whole life, and itʼs been your passion, so thereʼs no one that I would rather have worked with. When we started working out, I saw results instantly. I was moving better behind the plate. I was running faster, and scouts were loving how agile and quick I had gotten. The same holds true for my swing. From a bat speed standpoint, my hands feel quick and strong to the ball, and Iʼm hoping to really light it up in school ball. I lowered my 60 yard dash time from a 7.3 to a 6.9, and lowered my pop time behind the plate from a 2.1 to a 1.8. Iʼve never been in this good a shape before. Youʼve definitely been a turning point in my career.
If anyone has been following us on social media, they know that you have been an animal this summer, training mostly every morning and catching every night. Tell everyone what your routine was from the moment you woke up, until you got in bed after a 9 inning game. Take us through your day.
Joe: I usually wake up, have breakfast, which is usually eggs and potatoes, then Iʼll head right to the gym to train with you, and we will train for about two hours. I have my protein shake and banana immediately after my workout. Iʼll then drive home and eat a full meal within the hour, relax and watch some television for a little bit, get my stuff ready, help my dad with yard work, then Iʼm heading to the field to get stretched out. Once at the field, Iʼll throw the football around to loosen my arm. Iʼll take some swings off the tee and get ready for on-field batting practice. After batting practice, I usually have another lighter meal. Then after that Iʼll go through my pre-game warmup routine that you wrote for me, and then itʼs game time. When the games over, Iʼll have a full meal to jump start the recovery, so I can be at 100 percent or close to it for tomorrowsʼ game.
How important are routines?
Joe: Very important. Once youʼre in a routine it becomes a lot easier to take care of what you need to take care of. Whether itʼs getting your body ready to play, training, extra BP, etc.
What can you credit your hard work too?
Joe: My dad definitely in the beginning, but once I got to college and was on my own, I was driven to work hard to obtain my dreams. I have to give him a lot of credit, heʼs my best friend.
Rapid fire time!
Favorite pre game meal? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with milk.
Go to walk up song? Cinderella man, that has been my walkout since freshman year of college. I love the song and it always gets me fired up.
Favorite exercise doing with Alex? We have so many fun ones I love our floor press with the band, I like our entire speed day we did last week when we played tag. I canʼt give you just one because I really like them all.
Joe’s Favorite Exercise (Single-Arm Dumbbell Floor Press w/Banded Distraction)
Exercise you hate doing with Alex? Definitely chain loaded planks. Planks just suck.
Exercise Joe Hates (Chain Loaded Plank)
Favorite cheat meal you donʼt log in your food journal so Alex can see? Chinese.
Goals for 2016 – 2017? Getting drafted and dominating this year at Saint Rose.
Hope you guys enjoyed this interview!