Ohio State’s Josh Dezse out at least two months
February 11, 2013 1 Comment
Back injury leaves Ohio State two-way star’s season in limbo
Tabbed as one of the Big Ten’s top prospects for the 2013 MLB Draft, and on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List, Ohio State junior Josh Dezse will not participate in baseball activites for at least two months due to back injury stemming from a bulging disc. With Dezse out, the Buckeyes lose their closer the last two seasons and a potent middle-of-the-order bat.Selected in the 28th round of the 2010 draft by the New York Yankees, Dezse spurned a signing bonus in the ballpark of $500,000 to play for the Buckeyes. The Central Ohio product from Olentangy Liberty High School would go on to be named the 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, after the all-conference second-team DH selection produce one of the more impressive freshmen seasons for a two-way player.
Appearing in 53 games, Dezse carried a .332 average, collecting 11 doubles two triples and four home runs on his way to driving in 42 runs, slugging .427 and posting an on-base percentage of .427. On the mound, the 6’5 righty went 4-2 with six saves, striking out 32, walking 22 in 27.2 innings with a 5.53 ERA. In addition to his conference honors, Collegiate Baseball selected Dezse as a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and the NCBWA placed him on its All-America second-team.
More noteworthy than any accolade or statistic, in closing an Ohio State win against Oklahoma State on May 11, Dezse’s fastball was recorded at 100 MPH. As he possessed upper-90s velocity all spring, the triple-digit showing boasted Dezse’s professional stock.
Though Dezse produced the most impressive singular individual feat of the season, a three-home-run game against Georgia Tech, honors would not be bestowed in 2012.
At the plate, Dezse saw a decline in production, a line of .306/.423/.426, as he finished with nine doubles, a triple and five home runs. Dezse did show improvement on the mound, his ERA lowered to 2.86 as he surrendered fewer hits per nine innings, 6.03 from 9.75 and issued fewer walks, 4.76/9 compared to 7.15, but where he struck out more than a batter per inning as a freshman, 10.4/9, the number fell to 6.03 as Dezse was unable to duplicate his upper-90s fastball, peaking in the mid-90s.
Looking to cement his place as one of college’s baseball top prospects, Dezse headed to the Cape Cod League to play for the Bourne Braves.
In five games, Dezse pitched 5.2 innings, allowing four hits, four runs, two earned, as he walked five and struck out six. With two saves and a 3.17 ERA, Dezse’s summer was to strong start. But the 5.2 innings represented the entire workload as Dezse was shut down and returned home due to a back injury.
Though only logging 61.2 innings between two spring seasons and one summer, Baseball America rated Dezse the No. 37 prospect for the 2013 draft in an August edition. As Dezse headed into fall practice, with the Buckeyes hoping to convert him into a weekend starter, the top-end velocity had yet to return, routinely sitting 7-9 MPH below his 2011 levels. With it becoming evident Dezse was not 100%, the junior did not participate in Ohio State’s scout day, nor its intra-squad Scarlet & Gray World Series seeking rest and a hope for full recovery.
Individual and preseason practice would come and go without Dezse returning to full health. On Friday, the No. 57 prospect by Perfect Game visited the Cleveland Clinic where the visit did not render surgery currently necessary, but Dezse needed to take two months off from all activities and have a re-evaluation.
With his 6’5 frame and what he has shown in the past, it is not out of the question for a MLB club to take a late-round flier on Dezse even if he does not throw a pitch this season. The Minnesota Twins used their final draft pick to select Purdue’s Brad Schreiber who missed the entire 2012 season recovering from Tommy John. But with two seasons of eligibility following the 2013 season, combined with playing the entire 2014 season as an age 21 player, Dezse appears set to return to Columbus for at least another season, set to be one of the 2014′s top prospects with a clean bill of health.
Without Dezse, Ohio State will likely call on junior Greg Greve to serve as the team’s closer. Like Dezse, Greve was drafted out of high school, a 45th-round draft pick of the Giants after he concluded his career at Walsh Jesuit High School. Greve is a physical 6’4, 210 right-hander that possesses a fastball that can reach the mid-90s. Greve opened the 2012 season as the Ohio State Sunday starter before a shoulder injury prompted rest and a move to the bullpen. In 14 games, Greve pitched 50.2 innings as a sophomore, striking out 34, walking 22 as he posted a 5.15 ERA with one save.