There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Arizona baseball’s hitters lately, particularly second baseman Scott Kingery, who leads all Division I players in batting average.
As far as all-around talent goes, utility player Bobby Dalbec takes the cake as Arizona’s largest contributor.
Dalbec, who plays third base, pitches and typically bats fourth in the lineup, made his first college start on the mound Monday night against No. 8 ASU. He tallied four strikeouts, two walks, gave up five hits and no runs in 4.1 innings.
He was also the designated hitter and went 2-for-4 with two home runs. He became the first Wildcat to start on the mound and hit in the lineup since Eric Berger in 2006.
The big difference is that Berger didn’t hit a home run in his 3-2 loss against Mississippi State, and he didn’t record a hit. Dalbec didn’t give up a run on the mound and drove in three runs with his two homers — one of which was a go-ahead, two-run homer in the top of the ninth.
“If Bobby Dalbec weren’t a third baseman that can hit some home runs, he would be a tremendous Friday night candidate,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said. “He’s a guy that physically should be able to get you five to seven innings with his stuff.”
Physically, the Parker, Colo., native has the make of a power pitcher. He’s 6-foot-4, weighs in at 219 pounds and has a 92 MPH fastball. His build, however, is also ideal for power hitting, which explains his career-high 10 home runs this season, three of which came during last weekend’s series in Phoenix.
His 10 home runs lead both Arizona (23-11, 8-7) and the Pac-12 Conference in the category. He has two more than California’s Lucas Erceg. Dalbec ranks 13th for all Division I players behind leader Andrew Benintendi of Arkansas, who has 13.
Dalbec, a sophomore, had the opportunity to start Monday night after inconsistencies from Arizona’s original starting rotation. He swapped places with Tyger Talley, who now serves as Arizona’s closer.
“When there’s not a set [lineup], you have to make them interchangeable,” Lopez said. “Dalbec’s pretty good; that’s kind of a simple adjustment.”
Dalbec had pitched 18.2 innings, recording 16 strikeouts and five saves before Monday night. His 3.52 ERA is the second best for players who have started for Arizona and sixth best overall.
Offensively, Dalbec has the third best batting average on the team, sporting a .343 with a .649 slugging percentage, second only to Kingery. He’s reached base in all 34 games this season and is tied for the Pac-12 lead in RBIs with 36.
He has the mindset of a top-notch player; not to mention, he has at least one more year with the program.
Lopez said Dalbec will start on the mound for Arizona again next weekend against Oregon State, but it’s undecided whether he will be the Saturday night or Sunday starter.
Follow Nicole Cousins on Twitter.