02/23/2021 4:58 AM
Zach DeLoach - Falmouth ('19) - SportsPix Photo
Article By: Taylor Viles
When Zach DeLoach came to Cape Cod to play for the Falmouth Commodores in 2019, he was dangerously close to being forgotten. After a respectable freshman season with the Texas A&M Aggies hitting .264, DeLoach backpedaled the next year hitting only .200 in 56 games.
These numbers are okay for a collegiate athlete, but for a player whose dream is to make it to the MLB someday, they don’t stand out. DeLoach knew that too. He understood that coming to the Cape gave him his best opportunity yet, to show he’s not just another Division I baseball player who begins to fade before even making it to the big leagues.
“‘If I'm going to make a name for myself, it's now,’” DeLoach remembers thinking on the Cape. “That past sophomore season, I had been in a slump…[so] I had nothing to lose. And so I took any advice that I could, like, ‘Hey, what do I need to do, what I need to fix?’”
DeLoach’s first game in Falmouth came six days into the summer season. He was held hitless in his first two games and then all of a sudden, five straight days of rain hit Cape Cod, halting gameplay, but setting him up for the perfect opportunity to fix his struggles at the plate.
The advice he took was from Commodores hitting coach Brett Becker. “I used [the rainouts] to fine-tune and get ready for that next game,” said DeLoach. “After the rain would pass...I would stay out in the outer cages with Brett and work two to three hours every day.” He continued, “I just simplified everything. There was a lot of movement in my swing... That just made me really inconsistent.”
Streaky hitters, although exciting at times, are prone to losing their full-time roster spot. For example, recording one or two hits almost every game is better than going 4 for 4 every five games with little production in between.
It didn’t take long to start noticing results from his work with Becker, as he went 4 for 4 with two RBI’s during his first game after the rainouts, a 9-6 win over Wareham. Pretty soon, the consistency began to show up as well.
June 28 against Harwich is when everything began to click. DeLoach came into that game hitting .250, his lowest mark of the season. Three games later he was up to .414. The game against Harwich began a seven-game hitting streak. He then went hitless for one game which he followed up by hitting in another seven consecutive games. His highest regular-season average was .420, which came in mid-July.
“I really think the turning point was just me changing my mindset- ‘I'm one of the best hitters on the Cape,’” said DeLoach. “If you don't have that mindset, you're not going to be successful. That's kind of what I pride myself on is just making sure that my confidence is up each and every game.” He proved his mantra right as he made the all-star team, recording a hit and an RBI in two at-bats.
The Commodores finished the season on fire in 2019 winning 14 of their last 17 games. They carried that momentum into the postseason winning their first-round matchup over Bourne but losing to the eventual championship-bound Cotuit Kettleers. DeLoach played a large role in Falmouth’s late-season success, finishing his Cape League career on a ten-game hit streak (including playoffs).
Coming into a season knowing it could make or break his potential career, DeLoach performed, not something easily done under pressure. He finished the season winning the batting title (.353) while contributing five home runs and a team-high 23 RBI’s. “I think that's something that is a big accomplishment for me,” he said of taking home the award. “Ultimately, I think that really helped where I got drafted and who drafted me. I just think that really boosted my career gave me gave me a boost of confidence as well.”
The Seattle Mariners were the team to take a chance on DeLoach during the shortened 2020 draft. They selected him early in the second round.
Leading up to the draft, the primary way for teams to meet players became over zoom. DeLoach says he talked with a majority of MLB teams but the Mariners were one of the few that never called. “I would say, teams that don't call you, already have enough information on you to where they don't need to do that,” he said. “That ended up being the case. All you need is one guy to fall in love with you and wants you to be successful and wants you to be a part of the organization. That's exactly what happened and I couldn't be more thankful for it.”
It was his Cape League excellence combined with the brief spring season prior to the draft which made him stand out. In his junior season with the Aggies, DeLoach hit .462 with six home runs in only 17 games. “I think that's what everyone was wanting to see out of me… ‘Hey, can this guy validate what he did on the Cape and [prove] it wasn’t just a one-time thing?’” Even though it was a smaller sample size, Seattle was satisfied.
Shortly after becoming a professional baseball player, DeLoach made another big commitment but this time in his personal life, as he proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Samantha. Though, they weren’t able to celebrate much as he was placed on the taxi squad for the Mariners for the remainder of the 2020 MLB season.
Following a short break at the end of the MLB season, Deloach traveled to Peoria, Arizona to compete in a tournament against three other MLB franchises. “Between the taxi squad stuff and the Peoria stuff, I think I had around 200 or so at-bats.”
There are no stats to be found on his MLB experience thus far, but DeLoach’s career is already trending in the right direction since joining the organization. “Technically, I haven't started my career, but I have if that makes sense.”
Who knows where DeLoach would be if he hadn’t have come to Cape Cod in 2019? Who knows where he’d be if it wasn’t to Falmouth where the new set of eyes in Becker took over? Those questions are unanswerable, but the former Aggie is grateful for what the Cape League gave him. “To this day, I still talk to [Becker] and we still work together,” he said. “That's a really cool relationship that I've been able to build up over time.
It wasn’t just Becker and the Commodores though, DeLoach noticed the sincerity of the league in general. “The people that run the Cape League [do it] from a good place in their heart,” he said. “Everyone was very nice, very thoughtful, sincere, and super caring. They all want to support you and all want the best for you.”