By STEVE KRAH
Craig Dedelow had the chance to begin his professional baseball career after his junior season at Indiana University in 2016.
The lefty-swinging outfielder blossomed in his third season with the Hoosiers, hitting .302 with five home runs, 16 doubles and 36 runs batted in and was selected in the 34th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Dedelow was faced with a decision. Go pro or go back to IU for his last year of eligiblity?
He made the 3 1/2-hour drive from Munster to Bloomington consult with Hoosiers head coach Chris Lemonis.
“He told me I have a great opportunity,” says Dedelow of Lemonis. “He said we can get you bigger, faster and stronger and get you taken in a higher round next year.
“I put my faith in him and it worked out the next year.”
Dedelow soaked up plenty of knowledge in three seasons under Lemonis.
“He’s an easy guy to talk to about the ins and outs of baseball,” says Dedelow. “He taught me to think one step ahead like a chess match? What do I do if the ball is hit to me?”
Tracy Smith (now head coach at Arizona State University) guided IU in Dedelow’s freshmen season. The player compares him to his basketball coach at Munster — Mike Hackett.
“(Hackett) was a stickler and I responded well to that,” says Dedelow, who was a 6-foot shooting guard before he took a growth spurt and became a 6-4 senior forward in 2012-13. “That’s how Tracy was. He taught me to be accountable for my actions and how to carry myself on and off the field.”
Dedelow opted to don the Cream and Crimson again in 2017 and hit .258 with 19 homers, 12 doubles and 54 RBI. The slugging percentage for IU’s offensive MVP was .899.
The three-time third-team all-Big Ten Conference selection was chosen in the ninth round of 2017 MLB draft by the Chicago White Sox and played 65 games — 60 at Short-Season Class-A Great Falls and five at Low Class-A Kannapolis. He hit .306 with 13 homers, 21 doubles, 55 RBI and .894 OPS (on-base plus slugging) for 268 at-bats and was chosen as a organizational all-star.
Dedelow is back at Kannapolis in 2018. Through 50 games, he was hitting .289 with four homer, 18 doubles and 32 RBI.
Of late, he’s been batting third and playing left field for manager Justin Jirschele. Jamie Dismuke (who played for the 1995 Indianapolis Indians) is the Intimidators hitting coach.
“At the beginning of the year, I wanted to get off to the hot start,” says Dedelow. “I was big in my swing. But, lately, I’ve been more selective and it’s allowed me to hit the ball a little better.”
Dating back to his days at Munster High School and IU, Dedelow has been aggressive at the plate.
“I’m looking for a good fastball to hit,” says Dedelow, 22. “When I get two strikes, that flips.
“It’s been that way for a long time.”
As a Munster Mustang, Dedelow played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bob Shinkan.
“Coach Shinkan has always been good to me,” says Dedelow. “He’s always opened the weight room up and let me use the facilities when I was in college or since I’ve been in pro ball.
“We’ve got a good relationship.”
Dedelow played his early baseball for the Munster All-Stars, followed by Babe Ruth League then hooked up with the Schaumburg (Ill.) Seminoles the summer before his senior year at Munster High.
“That’s where I got my exposure,” says Dedelow of the Seminoles.
While at IU, he played for summer ball the Midwest Collegiate Baseball League’s Northwest Indiana Oilmen in 2014 and Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League’s Amsterdam Mohawks in 2015.
The big differences Dedelow sees between college and pro baseball is the level of play, the number of games and the travel.
“The pitching is a little bit better (in the minors),” says Dedelow. “In college, we played three or four games a week. Now, we have a game everyday. But that’s the fun part.”
Kannapolis sometimes has to trek to Lakewood, N.J., which takes 10 or more hours to reach by bus.
When Dedelow was at IU, one of the Hoosiers’ longer driving trips was to Charleston, S.C. Most far-away games, including Big Ten series at Minnesota and Nebraska, were taken by plane.
Dedelow graduated from IU with a management degree. While finishing his schooling last off-season, he did an internship with Hoosiers Director of Baseball Operations Roger Rodeheaver.
“There are so many thing the players don’t even see — like getting meal ready for them, gear when they need it and making sure the bus is there on-time,” says Dedelow. “It makes me appreciate everything they do for us in the front office.”
Craig’s parents — Darryl Sr. and Mary — are divorced. He is a union construction worker and she works in the Lake County, Ind., court system. He has two older siblings — Darryl Jr (who has an undergraduate degree from Wabash College, a master’s degree from Portland State and is working on his Ph.D. in Spanish at the University of Kentucky) and Sarah (a recent graduate of Calumet College of St. Joseph). His younger brother Nick is in elementary school.
Craig Dedelow, a graduate of Munster (Ind.) High School and Indiana University, began his professional baseball career in 2017 at Great Falls and is at Kannapolis in 2018. (Great Falls Voyagers Photo)
Craig Dedelow, a Munster (Ind.) High School and Indiana University graduate, steps to the plate for the Kannapolis Intimidators. He is an outfielder in the Chicago White Sox system. (Kannapolis Intimidators Photo)
Craig Dedelow, a Munster (Ind.) High School and Indiana University graduate, gets ready to hit for the Kannapolis Intimidators. He is an outfielder in the Chicago White Sox system. (Kannapolis Intimidators Photo)
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