The transition to professional baseball has been a smooth one for Craig Dedelow.
When it comes to all-star selections, the Munster and Indiana University product is batting 1.000.
A 2017 ninth-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox, Dedelow opened his professional career by hitting .321 in 60 games and earning a Pioneer League All-Star selection while playing rookie ball for the Great Falls Voyagers in Montana.
This season, Dedelow is playing with the Class Low-A Kannapolis Intimidators of North Carolina. Dedelow recently earned a South Atlantic League All-Star selection and went 1 for 1 with a run and a walk for the Northern Division in a 9-5 loss to the Southern team June 19.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound left-handed swinging left fielder had team-highs in doubles (18), triples (four), RBIs (32) and outfield assists (eight) at the time of his selection. The No. 3 or 4 hitter all season, he was one of seven Intimidators named to the all-star team.
"I had a hot start in May and have been trying to roll with it ever since," he said. "The all-star game was a good time with all our other guys making it, so I had a lot of familiar faces there. Just being selected and seeing some of the other guys that were also selected was an honor. Being able to play in front of that type crowd and take part in the home run derby was a really cool experience."
It was the second derby Dedelow has participated in — he also participated in the Pioneer League home run derby — turning in rounds of 15 and 13 homers this year.
"I did a lot better this time than last time," he said. "With the derby changing from 10 outs to a time limit, you're trying to get off as many swings as possible in three (and a half) minutes. It was really tiring is what I mostly got out of it."
When asked if he was surprised how his former player has been playing, Munster coach Bob Shinkan replied: "Absolutely not."
"He was self-driven to improve his skills daily through his years at Munster and his skill level got better yearly," Shinkan said. "His athleticism was second to none. He's a quality young man who is very polite and respectful."
Kannapolis manager Justin Jirschele, a former White Sox farmhand himself and son of Kansas City Royals third-base coach Mike Jirschele, also had good things to say.
"First and foremost, Craig is a tremendous person that any manager would be lucky to have in his lineup," Jirschele said. "What he brings to the table every day, not only as a baseball player, but as a teammate, is special."
Despite having the youngest manager in pro baseball at 28, the 23-year old Dedelow said Jirschele's previous pro experience has helped immensely.
"It's been a really good experience," Dedelow said. "He knows the daily grind that we go through and he makes sure to take that into account for pregame activities to make sure we're not too tired come game time."
Dedelow has appeared in 69 games for the Intimidators, which is tied for the second in the league as of Monday evening. He's hitting .276 with four homers and the second-most hits on the team (75), placing him in the top 10 in the league. His 19 doubles are a team-high and second most league-wide. He's up to 10 outfield assists.
His strikeout percentage is 20.4 percent this season, which is up from 14.3 percent a year ago in rookie ball. In addition, his home-run-to-fly-ball ratio is down when compared to Great Falls, 4.6 percent versus 15.8 percent, but that might not entirely be by accident.
"I met with a couple hitting coaches (early this season) to figure out my swing a little bit more and it was just having someone tell you that you don't need a homer every at-bat and ever since that talk, I feel like I've been doing better," he said. "I've been able to limit my strikeouts a good amount since the beginning of the year. My contact rate has went up as well as my hard contact rate. Things are going positive, I just need to stop hitting it right at people. It was more approach than mechanical."
The Intimidators finished a game back of clinching a playoff spot in the first half. A playoff berth is one of Dedelow's second-half goals.
"You always want to improve your hitting," he said. "We fell just short clinching that playoff spot so I'm just gonna keep up the good defense and do whatever I need to do to help the team win."