After a colorful Penn baseball career and an additional season as a Blue Devil, 2013 graduate Ryan Deitrich’s big league dreams are still alive and well.
After a successful campaign in his final year of eligibility at Duke as a redshirt senior this spring, the slugger was signed by the Evansville Otters, a professional minor league club that plays in the independent Frontier League.
Although his dream of being drafted by an MLB squad out of college didn’t come true, Deitrich has an optimistic outlook on his baseball future.
“It’s disappointing not hearing your name get called [in the draft], but it’s not the end of the world,” Deitrich said. “I have a really great opportunity to get paid to play the sport I love. I’m just going to take a run with it and make the most of it and hopefully a major league organization comes along and buys my contract.”
Perhaps fittingly, Deitrich will don red and blue for the Otters just as he did at Penn.
The competition in the Frontier League will be as fierce as Deitrich has seen, but if the Collegeville, Pa. native can hit like he did in his first-team All-Ivy senior season with the Quakers (.382 BA, .563 SLG, 23 RBI), MLB organizations are likely to keep an eye on him.
former Frontier League ballplayers have reached the majors since the independent league’s conception in 1993. In addition, there are dozens of Frontier League alumni currently on rosters from the rookie leagues to the MLB.
But despite having impressive pro baseball chances for a former Ivy League player, Deitrich is very much about his business.
A critical factor that steered Deitrich to become a Blue Devil for his final year of eligibility was a one year business masters program at Duke’s highly-ranked Fuqua School of Business.
“It was a good experience,” Deitrich said of his time in Durham. “I’m glad I went, both educationally and athletically.”
In many ways, Deitrich couldn’t have asked for a more dynamic and rewarding opportunity, from the world-class education, to the competition and exposure that comes along with playing ACC baseball, to the friendships he formed.
Not only did Deitrich bring his signature power to the Blue Devils – he led the club with nine long balls – the veteran exhibited dedicated leadership and a team-first attitude.
“My entire goal was to help that team get better and win games, as well as to get a little more exposure from scouts,” Deitrich said. “I think I had a good impact on the younger guys, teaching them the way to play the game right and work in the offseason.
“It was the [Duke] seniors’ team, them having been there for four years. I tried to add to that and not take away from it.”
Deitrich, one of Duke’s most potent bats, was more than a welcome addition to the Blue Devils lineup, as he helped the club to a surprise third place finish in the ACC Coastal division.
The right fielder was especially productive late in the season, leading the Blue Devils with a .379 batting average in the club’s final 17 games, and being named to the ACC All-Tournament team.
Deitrich was fortunate to have a similarly-situated wingman to share the unique experience of being an old-yet-new player for Duke.
The Penn alum clicked early on with fellow fifth-year senior and business student, Chris Kono, a reliever who formerly pitched for Holy Cross. The two elder-statesmen ended up rooming and spending the majority of their time together.
“We got close, being able to bond through that experience of being the two oldest guys on the team and being in business school together,” Deitrich said. “We had class together and then we’d go to practice together every day. We had a blast.”
Whether its having a blast with teammates or detonating fastballs, Ryan Deitrich has always made the most of his time playing baseball.
Fortunately for him, that time isn’t up just yet.