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Mariners, A's pluck Roseville's DeMello, Blaser in draft

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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The walk from campus across the street to Clancy Field at Roseville High School is considerably shorter than parking at the Oakland Coliseum and hiking up the way to the ball yard.

Toby DeMello and Dalton Blaser, Roseville classes of 2008 and ’12, were in Oakland for a recent pre-draft workout with the A’s in front of all the top brass. So when Hank DeMello and crew made that trek into the Coliseum with the Blaser family, he had time to think and share.

Said DeMello to Blaser’s dad, “Mark, I just thought about this; this is the ultimate of all coaching things. I have two ex-players working out at the same time for a pro baseball team. This is incredible.”

Toby DeMello and Dalton Blaser were the only two players from the Roseville/Granite Bay area to be selected in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft.

DeMello was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 29th round Wednesday. Blaser, who graduated June 1, was taken by the A’s in the 39th round.

DeMello completed a four-year career at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga with a .246 batting average and this season was on the Johnny Bench Watch List as one of the top catchers in college baseball.

DeMello said Thursday his best pop time from catcher’s mitt to second base is 1.76 seconds. He threw out 29 of 49 base runners attempting to steal this season, according to www.smcgaels.com, and tied for the West Coast Conference lead with six pickoffs. He committed nine errors in 1,072 chances for a .992 career fielding percentage.

After four years of taking in crazy basketball games on campus, which included watching incredible hoop hero Patty Mills, DeMello on Thursday was packing up and moving out of his Moraga apartment.

“It’s definitely weird, just kinda looking back, remembering, getting here to school (as a freshman in the fall of 2008), not knowing anyone; now it’s moving on to the next phase of your life,” DeMello said. “It’s sad but exciting at the same time.”

Hank DeMello said his son had discussions with 12 to 14 teams. He caught bullpens for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Florida Marlins with Saint Mary’s teammate Kyle Barraclough firing 96-mph fastballs. Barraclough went to the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh round.

The Mariners on Tuesday told DeMello to keep his phone close.

“I was kind of expecting a call from someone; I just didn’t know when or where,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it and then some. I cannot wait to go play.”

DeMello planned to sign with the Mariners sometime between Thursday night and Sunday. The parties agreed to terms, and DeMello was ready to depart for either the short-season Appalachian League in Virginia or the Northwest League in Everett, Wash.

Blaser also had workouts with the Boston Red Sox and Anaheim Angels. He graduated with a .393 average (122 for 311), 89 RBI, 34 doubles and 13 homers in 120 games.

Blaser drew 44 of his 58 career walks over the last seasons, when he hit .485 (82 for 169) with 10 homers, 20 doubles and 53 RBI.

In addition to hitting .456 in 2011, when he was co-MVP in the Sierra Foothill League, the left-hander was 6-1 with a 2.27 ERA in helping the Tigers win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship, Roseville’s first section baseball banner in 28 years.

“It’s nuts. Just to have somebody select you is such an honor,” Blaser said, adding the negotiating process would go on over the next two weeks.

Blaser was drafted as an outfielder, and he’s no rookie out in the grass. Blaser always played with older teams in youth baseball, with brother Nick and under dad and coach Mark, so he played a considerable amount of outfield.

Hank DeMello said Blaser was “the only guy in Oakland” who worked at first and in the outfield.

“Honestly, it’s one of the most rewarding blessings I could receive in my life,” Blaser said. “It’s an honor to be looked at. It’s nice to hear someone believes in me as well. I’m knocking at the door, one step closer. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Hank DeMello said pro scouts loved Blaser’s swing.

“Not many pitchers had their way with him,” he said. “When you get a kid in the groove and watch him swing in a game or the batting cage, it’s just fun to watch.”

LOCAL DRAFT PICKS

TOBY DeMELLO

Drafted by: Seattle Mariners in round 29, overall pick No. 881, out of Saint Mary’s College.
Position: Catcher. Bats/throws: Right/right.
Height/Weight: 6-1 1/2, 232. Age: 22.

DALTON BLASER

Drafted by: Oakland A’s in round 39, overall pick No. 1,189, out of Roseville High School.
Position: Outfielder. Bats/throws: Left/left.
Height/Weight: 6-0, 180. Age: 18.