After a slow transition into pro ball, Andrew Dalquist is ready to hit the ground running

In recent drafts, the White Sox have shown a consistent trend of favoring players from the collegiate ranks over high school players in the early rounds. However, the 2019 draft class broke away from that trend as Nick Hostetler and co. selected prep players in rounds two, three, and four, making that the organization's focus with their higher picks in the draft. With the 81st overall pick in the draft, the White Sox took Andrew Dalquist, a right-handed pitcher from Redondo Union High School in California.

Before being drafted by the White Sox, Dalquist was a standout California prep pitcher who was committed to the University of Arizona. Despite having a lot of success throughout his prep career, it wasn't until right before his senior season when he realized he could have the option to play professionally coming out of high school. "That's when everything started to take off professionally, but it was always my dream to play professional baseball. The reality of it didn't set in until the middle of January," Dalquist said in a phone interview with FutureSox.

"A bunch of MLB scouts started showing up to our games that year and I thought, 'ok, this is going to pass' and then it never passed. It made me realize that this is truly something that can happen." Having MLB scouts in attendance at your games is exciting for a high school player, but it can also be a lot to take in. Especially for someone like Dalquist, who was also in the process of figuring out where he would like to play college baseball if that was going to be his next step. "It was exciting for me to see the scouts at our games. Once the games started, I tried to block them out of my thoughts, my eyesight, and tried to ignore the scouts while I focused on going out there and doing my thing."

Andy Divers, the coach at Redondo Union, helped Dalquist along the way as he tried to figure out what was best for his career. "He [Divers] told me to just enjoy the process because this is something you will only get to do once." When Dalquist's high school career came to an end and the MLB Draft got closer, he knew it was time for him to make his decision. During the draft process, he also got help from his agent who handled most of the pre-draft conversations with interested teams.

"During the draft process, my agent narrowed it down to three teams that were really in on me and the White Sox were one of them. That was the biggest indicator to me that the White Sox had significant interest in me." And it's safe to say that his agent was spot on with the White Sox interest as they ended up taking Dalquist with their third round selection. It was somewhat of a surprise to see his name still available at that time, but there were rumblings that he was going to be a tough sign.

When asked about his thought process during that time, Andrew Dalquist indicated that things weren't as complicated as they were made out to be. "My thought process was that I had a life changing, money number that I wanted. If a team was willing to meet that, then I was open to signing. And if that didn't happen, then I was open to playing in college too."

Fast forward to June 4, 2019 where day two of the MLB Draft was getting ready to kick things off. Before things officially started, Dalquist got a call from his agent who mentioned that the White Sox wanted to take him with the 81st pick and they were willing to meet his asking price. And even though some thought Dalquist was going to be difficult to pry away from the University of Arizona at that point in the draft, he mentioned that the whole process with the White Sox went smoothly. "I knew what it was going to take for them to sign me and they were willing to meet that number. It seemed like both parties stepped up to the table and we got it done."

After signing with the White Sox, Andrew Dalquist's name started entering White Sox top 30 lists everywhere, including our midseason list and many other publications that saw him as a top 30 prospect before he threw one pitch as a professional. He mentioned that he's proud to be considered one of the top prospects, but it's also something he doesn't try to pay too much attention to. "It's an honor, but I have a long way to go before I can realistically say that I'm a top prospect, and I still have stuff that I need to work on."

When he arrived in Arizona to spend time with the AZL White Sox this year, Dalquist spent over a month soaking everything in before he was sent out to make his first start as a member of the White Sox's organization. "Overall, the experience was awesome. I got plenty of time to talk with some of the older pitchers and got to learn a little bit from them. They helped me understand what to expect when I head out to the mound for the first time," Dalquist mentioned to FutureSox. He also talked about how that first month allowed him time to get acclimated to life as a professional baseball player and it gave him an opportunity to get used to a new schedule. However, he also stated that towards the end of that month he was definitely itching to get back into game action and he was excited to get some innings under his belt.

Two players with the AZL White Sox that immediately introduced themselves to Andrew Dalquist upon his arrival were Garvin Alston Jr. and Jeremiah Burke. Both of them made an effort to make sure he felt welcomed and comfortable as he was fresh into the beginning of his professional career. And while all of this was new to Dalquist, he wasn't going through it alone. Matthew Thompson, another prep pitcher that the White Sox selected in the draft, also arrived in Arizona around the same time as Dalquist and the two of them got to take everything in together.

"Matt and I roomed together and we became pretty good friends during the summer. It was nice that we had each other to get adjusted with. It made the adjustment a little easier knowing that I had someone close to my age that was going through this process with me." He also went on to talk about how it wasn't just the two previously mentioned players that welcomed him to the organization. All of the college guys and players that were around the affiliate for a little while longer talked with him about the early stages of his career and did not isolate him or Thompson for being the younger guys.

When August rolled around and the season started winding down, Andrew Dalquist did not have to wait around any longer to get his first in game experience as a professional. He made his first start on August 13th in Glendale against the AZL Dodgers. When asked how he felt after the debut, the young righty explained that he was excited and that there were some additional emotions involved. "It gave me a feeling of relief knowing that I can do this. I went out there, fought through a little bit of adversity, and I was able to complete that first inning."

On that night, Dalquist threw primarily fastballs and showed that he wasn't afraid to attack hitters. He did not record a strikeout, but he did successfully work through one inning without allowing a run. Seeing a new pitcher come in and ring up a lot of guys would be great, however, it was fun seeing Andrew Dalquist work through a scoreless inning without needing any strikeouts to be an effective pitcher.

Andrew Dalquist would go on to make two more starts (three total) in 2019 with the AZL White Sox. He tossed 3.0 innings, gave up two hits, had two walks, and picked up two strikeouts during his first professional season. While that isn't a lot of work for him, it's very common to see prep pitchers get a lighter transition into their first year of pro ball. It's a big jump in competition from what they've previously faced and he mentioned that he noticed the difference in competition, even though he only saw it for three innings this past season.

Entering his first off-season, Andrew Dalquist has a few things in mind that he wants to work on. With instructs on the horizon, he feels like that's a good time to start working on some of those things. "I need to work on my consistency with all of my pitches, plus consistency with my delivery and staying more on top of the ball. I think during instructs that will be one of my main focuses, to work on that kind of stuff."

All things considered, Andrew Dalquist had a successful first season with the White Sox organization. He was able to get his feet wet with game experience, and he was given plenty of time to get used to being a professional and to learn as much as he could. While he only threw three innings, he felt satisfied with the work he did and he's ready to hit the ground running next year. "I felt good, it was fun getting out there and meeting all of the guys. I now know what the daily schedule is like in being a professional baseball player, so I think that's really good for me. I'm looking forward to getting back out there next year."

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