By Daniel Giovati
“Big D” is what they call California State University, Dominguez Hills baseball’s powerful 6-foot-6-inch, 265-pound designated hitter, Dalton Duarte. Throughout his baseball career, Duarte has been called a variation of nicknames that refer to his large stature.
Some are less flattering than others, like “big donkey.” However, Duarte embraces these nicknames and channels them in his play on the baseball diamond.
Duarte has eight home runs this season, easily the most on the CSUDH baseball team.
At a young age, the big left-handed batter recognized his size would be one of his greatest assets in athletics.
“Ever since I was a kid I was always the biggest on my teams and I always had power,” said Duarte.
But it was not always a sure thing that Duarte would even end up playing baseball. Because of his size, coaches would try to push him into playing football, but baseball was his passion.
Duarte towered above his teammates in middle school and when high school came around he shot up another six inches.
That is when Duarte began to emulate his favorite professional baseball player, David Ortiz a.k.a “Big Papi.” Like Duarte, Ortiz was a tall, left-handed, powerful designated hitter.
“I always looked up to the bigger dudes, I love the guys who are big and hit home runs,” said Duarte.
Duarte has done well to emulate David Ortiz this year. He has homered in three consecutive games and has also hit two home runs in the same game this season.
“Sometimes I find a groove, I get comfortable in the box and the ball looks like a beach ball to me,” said Duarte. “When pitchers make mistakes, I make them pay.”
Being a tall baseball player has worked out well for Duarte, but it comes with its challenges. Duarte has a much larger strike zone that he has to protect and umpires often do not do him any favors with calls.
“Teams like to pitch to me low because umpires will call those pitches strikes,” said Duarte. “I have a big reach, but it is hard to reach those ones.”
With his eight home runs, Duarte is having a standout year in a season in which his team is not playing well overall. However, Duarte stays humble about his success and continues to be a team player. He does not only swing for the fences, he is hitting for an outstanding batting average of .301.
“People expect power hitters to have a low average, but I work hard to do both,” said Duarte. “I swing for base hits and sometimes it goes over the fence.”
For Duarte, being a 6-foot-6-inches power hitter has been a “blessing” throughout his college baseball career and he embraces the challenge of living up to his name, “Big D.”