The Times
  • Melioris leaving DiamondDawgs to sign with Angels

  • JUNE 21 NEW YORK COLLEGIATE BASEBALL LEAGUE — Opening night starting pitcher opts to pursue professional career.

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  • When Mohawk Valley DiamondDawg Joe Melioris was not selected this month in the Major League Baseball draft, the 6-foot-10 pitcher was devastated.
    “I was waiting and waiting,” he said. “I didn’t really want to believe it. I was pretty bummed.”
    That was then.
    Late Saturday night, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made Melioris an offer there was no way he was going to refuse. On Tuesday, the former Rome Catholic High School star flies to Phoenix with every intention of signing a free agent contract with the Angels.
    “I’m not worried about the money; I just want the opportunity,” Melioris said. “This is a huge load off my shoulders, and there’s no way I’m going to pass this up.
    “I’m going all-out. I’m not going to let this opportunity get by me. I’m so pumped. ... This is a life-long dream coming true for me.”
    Melioris, who turned 20 years old on May 29, has been pitching with the DiamondDawgs in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. In three starts and one relief appearance, he was 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 16 innings, and opposing hitters were batting .186.
    Melioris, a 255-pound right-hander, spent the spring as an NJCAA Division I scholarship pitcher at Polk State in Florida. In his best outing there, he pitched the first seven innings of a nine-inning no-hitter against Daytona State College.
    Melioris had left Division I Stony Brook University after after appearing in only six games, all in relief, for the Sea Wolves as a freshman. Last summer, he helped the Rome Thunderbolts win the Eastern Collegiate Baseball League’s regular-season title, winning five games, striking out a team-high 56 batters in 50 innings and leading the Thunderbolts with a 1.80 ERA.
    Transferring to Polk State and playing in Florida, he said, was “one of the best moves I ever made,” because that’s where scouts really showed an interest in him and his potential as a professional pitcher.
    He worked out for the Chicago Cubs in late May, and it went so well, he really believed he was going to be drafted.|
    “I really came home thinking that I was set, and I thought it was going to be the Cubs,” Melioris said. “I’m a Yankees fan, but I really couldn’t care less who it is, I’m just looking forward to the opportunity.”
    At Rome Catholic, he was an all-state baseball and basketball player. He played five varsity baseball seasons on a team coached by his father, former Rome Catholic star Joe Melioris Sr. And the news his son gave him early Sunday was quite a Father’s Day present for the elder Melioris.
    “I’m obviously enthused and obviously very proud,” Joe Melioris Sr. said. “This is what Joe was hoping for. For however long it lasts, this was his dream. He’s got to go give this a shot when he can.”
    Page 2 of 2 - • Melioris is the second opening-day DiamondDawg to depart. University of Kentucky catcher T.J. Daugherty suffered a foot injury running the bases at Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field June 14. He left Little Falls Friday to return home and rehabilitate his injury.