By: Tom Joyce
Dominic DiCaprio took the summer to capitalize on a prestigious baseball opportunity with one of the country’s top summer collegiate leagues: the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
DiCaprio, who grew up in Coral Springs, played for the North Springs Little League and is a 2015 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“It’s an awesome experience,” he said of the league. “You’re playing with the best players and you’re getting better every day because of it. It’s an honor to be able to represent your school up here. It’s been a good time so far.”
Adjusting to the wood bats of the Cape League, DiCaprio struggled at first, going hitless in his first 20 at-bats of the season. In the next 13 games however, he got on track, hitting .250 while drawing eight walks. By the end of the season, he upped his batting average to .202 and on-base percentage to .309 in 28 games for the Harbor Hawks.
As the summer progressed, DiCaprio said his focus was staying consistent at the plate.
“It’s all about not getting mad with the bad games and accepting failure when it came around,” he said. “I was just staying focus and trying to do the best I could.”
Although the Cape Cod League gives players an opportunity to earn national recognition and showcase their talent to pro scouts around the country, it also serves as a tool for player development. During the summer, the players do not have to concern themselves with school, so they have more time to practice and in the league, they are able to work on areas of their game they might not necessarily have the chance to during the spring. DiCaprio said he took the time to improve his defense and specifically, his glove to throwing hand ball transition.
“I didn’t throw as well as I would’ve liked to have in the spring,” DiCaprio, who threw out 16.7 percent of the baserunners who tried stealing off of him at Rice this past spring, said. “I’m trying to get better at that. I’m not too worried about hitting and stuff like that right now. I know that’ll be there if I keep working hard.”
Even if he is catching on a regular basis for now, DiCaprio has more to offer in terms of versatility. Over the course of his baseball career, he has played several positions which he sees as beneficial and adding value to his game.
“It’s great to be able to do,” he said of being able to play multiple positions. “It shows people you can adjust to any situation you’re in. I mostly just catch, but I can play first and corner outfield. I think I’m able to do that.”
This was not DiCaprio’s first summer ball tenure, or even his second. After graduating high school, he got a chance to compete against college level competition before even attending his first college class. As a rising freshman, he played in the Perfect Game Collegiate League in upstate New York, an experience that helped him gain experience which led to him earning a starting role his freshman year. Last summer, he continued the tradition by playing in the South Florida Collegiate League. While he said those experiences helped him prepare to play on the Cape this summer, he did note one major difference between the league he is in now and the leagues he played in prior — the skill level.
“This league is the premier league,” he said. “All the players here are amazing. I’m just going through the ranks and I’ve used wood bats before, so it’s not that big of an adjustment.”
DiCaprio had a breakout offensive year at Rice this past spring as a designated hitter, catcher and first baseman. He played in 63 games and batted .366 and hit six home runs while posting a .946 OPS.
As a member of Conference USA, Rice might not be the biggest Division 1 powerhouse baseball program in the country, but they appeal to potential recruits in another way. Their acceptance rate is around 14 percent, making them one of the most selective schools in the country. That was a major reason why DiCaprio ended up going there.
“It’s very important,” he said of the strong academics. “Baseball doesn’t last forever, so you have to be realistic about it. A degree like that could set you up really well for the future even if baseball doesn’t work out.”
Tom Joyce is a freelance sports writer in Southeastern Massachusetts. He has covered minor league baseball since 2014.