The Jersey Knight?
By Gary Sussman
The text was random, but succinct.
“Elimination game vs. Michigan. Luca Dalatri-7 innings, 1 run, 6 strikeouts, 5 hits.”
The sender was Jersey guy and former Nets assistant coach Tom Barrise, talking about the athletic prowess of the son of former strength coach, Rich Dalatri. (Indulge me one sidebar on Tom…back in the day, he was let go from his scouting position (he was later re-hired) and in one of the classic ‘You can take this job and shove it’ moments, gathered all his team- issued gear and threw it into the lunch room-think Lou Piniella obliterating home plate. And what added to the display was the fact that many of the clothes were still on their hangers from the dry cleaners-so free clothes for the staff, and freshly pressed!…but I digress).
I had mentioned in an earlier posting that Myles Garrett, the #1 pick in the NFL Draft, used to attend practice with his brother, Sean Williams. He was five at the time, and would sit quietly on the side. But Luca was in a different category, as he and his siblings were constants in the gym during their formative years, running, jumping, yelling, competing. And if you are a constant, you got a name. C’mon, this is an easy one. Luca Brasi, that’s who he was, the only Luca on my radar. (But who knew he would grow to the size of the infamous Brasi, as both measured 6-6, although the pitcher is a solid 235, while Sleeping with the Fishes had to pack over three bills…but I digress).
Coach Rich would put the kids through their conditioning paces, but nothing over the top or excessive, just imparting the knowledge he had to his kids…we’re not talking Marinovich here! But Luca had skills…he could shoot an NBA 3…and make them…while still in middle school. And when he got to high school at Christian Brothers Academy in Monmouth County, he should have hired me as his press agent.
Two-time NJ Gatorade Player of the Year, posting a 35-2 record, with both losses coming as a freshman. He had 373 strikeouts and only 36 walks in 250 innings, with a 0.87 career earned run average. Drafted late by the Colorado Rockies after turning down money if he went in the first two rounds. The decision was business, not personal.
“ The coaches at UNC are going to make me better, “ he told NJ.com. “ Unlike going to the minors, I believe going to UNC will make me more money.”
And so in the most important start of his freshman campaign, he staves off elimination for the Tar Heels in the NCAA Regional (they would eventually be eliminated by Davidson) throwing 121 pitches, but was ready for more, as he told the Raleigh News and Observer.
“ I could have gone nine if I needed to, but Coach (Mike Fox) said it was best for my arm, so I appreciate that.”
Which brings me to another North Carolina pitcher who forsook the first signing bonus and joined the Tar Heels, and was drafted by the Mets in the first round, 7th overall in the 2010 MLB Draft. Harvey. Matt Harvey. The former Dark Knight. Who in a game against Clemson in his junior year threw 157 pitches, with the last clocking 96 on the gun. Harvey’s last collegiate campaign saw an 8-3 record, 3.09 ERA, 102 strikeouts and 35 walks in 96 innings. Luca? Posted a 7-3 mark, 3.34 ERA, 85 K’s, 19 BB in 97 innings in his initial campaign.
Let’s hope they continue to protect the arm, so when that moment arrives, Luca has a firm grip on the pen!
I am checking with MLB on my ‘Exit Velocity’ from the NBA…was Judge-like!
The freak of nature, Alex Honnold, who scaled El Capitan without ropes…I want proof he’s not part cat.
Pekka…what’s not to like!
photos: nothinbutnets.com (Tom Barrise); goheelsgo.com (Matt Harvey)