MLB Relief Pitcher for the Seattle Mariners
Profile: Dominic Leone | Age: 22 | Hometown: Norwich, Connecticut
Twitter: @DLeone52 | Instagram: @DLeone12
High School: Norwich Free Academy | College: Clemson University | MLB: Seattle Mariners
Achievements: MLB Debut 4/6/14 | Drafted in the 16th rounded of the 2012 MLB Draft | Captain at Clemson | #81 prospect in the Cape Cod League by Perfect Game | 2010 College World Series Appearance | 2010 ACC Atlantic Division Champions | #1 high school prospect in Connecticut | 2x All-State selection in Connecticut
Seattle Mariners’ manager Lloyd McClendon said had great things to say about Leone “He’s a talented young man, capable of multiple innings. I can tell you this. I will not be afraid to put him in impactful situations because he’s that good and we feel that good about him. I think he adds a lot to this bullpen.”
PG: When did you first start playing baseball?
DL: I first started playing when I was 4.
Did you play any other sports growing up?
I played baseball, basketball, soccer growing up. I played football my freshman year in high school and basketball for 2 years in high school. I also love to play golf. Growing up I would try and play whenever I could.
Who was your favorite athlete(s) and favorite sports teams growing up?
My favorite player was Nomar Garciaparra. My favorite pitcher was Pedro Martinez. Needless to say I was a huge Boston Red Sox fan. I used to impersonate Nomar’s batting stance playing wiffleball in my backyard.
How and why did you pick to go to Clemson?
I went to a few showcases for baseball my junior year in high school and was lucky enough to get interest from a couple big name schools. Clemson was one of them and I took an official visit my senior year in September. The campus was beautiful, the facilities were top of the line, and the people and staff were really welcoming and determined. That sense of pride in their university and determination to win at the highest level really drew me in.
How was your college experience at Clemson?
My college experience was awesome. Top level competition, facilities and coaches made it well worth it. The friends I made while there made it that much better. Those guys on the team are like brothers to me and we all keep in contact still.
When did you know were going to be a professional baseball player?
I knew I was going to play professional baseball when I first started playing baseball. That was always my goal. I wanted to be a professional athlete so I made it my life goal to do whatever it took to get there.
What was your experience getting drafted to the MLB?
Draft day was pretty crazy. The first 15 rounds were long and strenuous. You’re so anxious to hear your name called and that dream fulfilled so those days and hours before I got drafted were tough. I always knew I could return to school and finish my last year but this was my opportunity to get to the professional level. Finally the third day of the draft, the first round of that day (16th round) the Seattle Mariners called me and told me they had selected me and from that moment on it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Such a surreal feeling. All my family and friends were calling and it was such an amazing feeling to know how much love and support you have in a moment like that.
What was it like joining your first minor league team?
There were butterflies for sure. But those faded quickly. I knew I had taken a step in the right direction but I knew the job wasn’t finished. I wanted to now get to the big leagues and compete with the best of the best. The guys I grew up watching on T.V., I wanted to play with and against. I made more friends and learned a lot from everyone I played with which helped me rise through the levels.
How did you move up the Mariners system so fast?
I was fortunate enough to stay healthy (knock on wood), and just produce. I worked hard, was a good teammate, and really improved in some areas that I desperately needed to improve. I think all these things helped me get noticed by the people in the front office and help me get moved up.
What was your reaction when you got called up to the Seattle Mariners?
The phone call was short, quick, but again surreal. This was the call I was waiting for since I started playing teeball. I honestly can’t put my feelings into words during that moment. I’m just so fortunate and blessed to have been given that opportunity.
How is MLB life so far?
MLB life is good so far. It’s a lot of work, and you have to stay focused and really work on your craft everyday. Whether it’s watching video on hitters, or doing PFP’s and working out, You are always doing something.
What was in like pitching in your first MLB game April 6, 2014?
Butterflies. So much adrenaline. Yet a lot of fun. This is where I wanted to be so it was awesome to finally be there. I was ready to show the baseball world that I’m here and that I wanna stick around for a while.
What adjustments did you have to make coming out of Clemson, pitching versus professional hitters?
Luckily for me pitching at Clemson helped me prepare for professional baseball. We played great competition each and every game and I actually played against a handful of the same guys my first year in the minors. You always have stuff to work on however, so in my case I had to improve my consistency with throwing strikes and my overall command of all my pitches. Being able to throw any pitch in any count.
Which MLB player do you want to pitch against the most?
Well since this is his last year, I would love to pitch against Derek Jeter. Growing up watching him play, despite him being a Yankee (haha) I gained so much respect for how he handled himself on the field and off the field. You never heard a negative report about him. On the field he is a class act and is an absolute gamer.
What do you like to do in your free time/offseason?
I love to golf in my free time. It is nice to stay competitive in something else other than baseball. I also love to watch movies and play video games. Besides those things I make sure I follow my workout schedule and prepare myself for the upcoming season as best I can.
Whats your favorite place to eat in Connecticut?
There are way too many good places to eat in Connecticut for me to pick just one. The entire state and even entire region (New England) has the best food around.
Do you think Connecticut is becoming a baseball state now with about 15 players in the MLB including Matt Harvey, Mike Olt, Evan Scribner, Craig Breslow, Josh Zeid ect.
I think Connecticut is starting to get recognized more in terms of being a baseball state. It is tough for us because we don’t get to play all year round. We get buried under snow for a few months which makes it really difficult for players to stay sharp. But in the end of the day its not what you came from, its what you did with your opportunity. All those guys you listed above have proven they can work through the elements, earn opportunities to get on a bigger stage and then continue to prove to people that the Northeast shouldn’t be forgotten in terms of searching for baseball talent.
Whats your favorite thing about PG Sports?
You guys are awesome. Your products are new and innovative and you’re a CT brand. Plus, just like the rest of us you are following a dream of yours. You’ve made the necessary steps towards fulfilling your life goals and dreams so for me, its an honor to help support that and show off your hard work and your vision in such a simple way.