Diodati impresses early on
Owen Diodati’s freshman season at the University of Alabama was over almost before it began.
The 18-year-old Niagara Falls native got into 17 games with the Crimson Tide before all activities were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s definitely frustrating. It kind of came out on nowhere, at least from us from a baseball perspective,” Diodati said from Tuscaloosa, where he is living with a teammate for the time being. “Three days before we got the news we were preparing to open at home against Missouri, then we were going to open with no fans the next day, then we were postponed until end of March, and then a day later the whole season was cancelled.
“It was a pretty quick turnaround.”
Diodati was off to a fast start hitting .309 (17-55) with three doubles, a triple and five home runs in his 17 games of action, including 14 starts. He also added 22 runs batted in, scored 13 runs and walked 13 times. He was named the SEC (South East Conference) Co-Freshman of the Week (Feb. 17).
“We were off to a pretty good start and things were going my way,” said Diodati, who graduated from A.N. Myer. “I guess it’s just another bump in the road. I can sit here and sulk about it or get back to work and get ready for next year so that’s what I’m trying to do.
“Our team was off to a great start and I was off to a pretty good statistical start. It was all I could really ask for. We were winning and I was contributing and playing every day so it was awesome.”
Diodati was used almost exclusively as a designated hitter — he got into a few innings in left field in one game — and said he felt he belonged.
“Part of my mindset is that I think I can play at any level and that’s the mentality I kind of went in with,” said Diodati, who was selected in the 29th round of the Major League draft last June by Toronto but opted for a full scholarship at Alabama. “Our coach always said to us don’t play like a freshman, player like a junior, and that’s the mentality I had going in and it helped me through the tougher times and when we see tougher competition. I was really looking forward to seeing the really good competition with us about to start the SCC Conference.”
For now, Diodati is making the best of his situation taking classes on line (he’s majoring in accounting and finance) while training and working out as much as possible.
“There’s not a ton we can do,” he said. “It’s about trying to do as much as you can with the limited resources that you have.”
Diodati feels he can still improve despite the circumstances.
“I’ve kind of taken it as almost a time where you can get ahead rather than fall behind because a lot of people are going to sit around and not try and make the most of what they have in front of them and kind of sulk about it. Now, if you really want to work hard you can find ways to get better and this is a time where you can move up the ranks.”
Diodati is still holding out hope he can compete in the Cape Cod League this summer and get in some action against good competition.
He feels fortunate to be in a good situation off the field.
“I’ve have great people around me,” he said. “My teammate and his family have take me in as one of their own for the time being and our coaches have been great about getting us what we need and the school has been accommodating to us and our needs. It’s been an easy a transition as it possibly could be. It’s obviously not easy being away from home in times like this but the people around be have been great.”
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