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10 things to know about Tigers' new catcher

Dingler ranked among top backstops in 2020 Draft
@mattkellyMLB
June 11, 2020

Dillon Dingler was one of the top catchers in the 2020 MLB Draft, and the Tigers wasted no time snapping him up to open Day 2. Detroit selected the Ohio State backstop with the first pick of the second round, No. 38 overall. Here are 10 facts you should know

Dillon Dingler was one of the top catchers in the 2020 MLB Draft, and the Tigers wasted no time snapping him up to open Day 2. Detroit selected the Ohio State backstop with the first pick of the second round, No. 38 overall.

Here are 10 facts you should know about Dingler, who was MLB Pipeline’s 24th-ranked Draft prospect.

• Dingler became one of the highest-drafted Buckeyes when the Tigers selected him. He's the fifth Ohio State player to be selected in the top 40 overall picks of the MLB Draft, joining first-round picks Nick Swisher (No. 16 overall to the A's in 2002) and Alex Wimmers (No. 21 overall to the Twins in 2010), plus fellow second-rounders Bill Sharp (No. 25 to the White Sox in 1971) and Dave Burba (No. 33 to the Mariners in 1987).

• Dingler shares a close connection with Ball State right-hander Kyle Nicolas (No. 60 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 200 Draft prospects). The two were classmates at Jackson High in Stark County, Ohio, and led the Polar Bears to state titles in both baseball and basketball in their senior seasons. Jackson’s basketball title came by way of a one-point victory in the state title game over top-ranked Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller -- Ken Griffey Jr.’s alma mater.

Dingler stayed busy in the fall, too, manning the receiver, safety and punter positions for Jackson’s football team and earning Stark County’s Football Player of the Year award.

• Dingler and Nicolas could be just the second and third Jackson grads to be selected in the Draft. The Mariners selected southpaw Shawn Nottingham in the 13th round of the 2003 Draft, and he rose as high as Triple-A.

• Basketball might have been Dingler’s worst high school sport, but he relished the chance to be Jackson’s bulldog sixth man. Dingler’s coach would often bring him in off the bench to be a defensive stopper.

“My main role is probably to bring a little bit of energy off the bench,” said Dingler during his senior season. “Coaches like to put me on the best offensive player on the other team. Honestly, I love it.”

• When asked which MLB player he particularly admires, Dingler cited nine-time All-Star catcher Yadier Molina -- certainly a good pick for any aspiring backstop.

“I like watching what he does behind the plate and how he helps his team,” Dingler told Ohio State’s student newspaper.

• Dingler had been an All-Ohio catcher at Jackson before he reached Ohio State, but Buckeyes head coach Greg Beals threw a curveball at his new backstop when he arrived on campus. Beals moved Dingler to center field (Dingler didn’t own an outfielder’s glove at the time), and Dingler wound up starting 29 games in center and still earned All-Big Ten Freshman honors.

By the end of the season, Dingler had acclimated to his new position well enough to throw out the potential winning run at home plate in the 11th inning of Ohio State NCAA tournament matchup against UNC-Wilmington.

• MLB Pipeline rates Dingler’s arm strength as well above-average, and he was very capable patrolling the basepaths in Columbus, throwing out 21 out of 42 potential basestealers over his three collegiate seasons.

• Dingler was poised for a big junior season in Columbus before the coronavirus pandemic cut the season short. He entered 2020 as Baseball America’s Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year and was hitting .340 with five homers (just two shy of his combined total from his first two seasons with the Buckeyes), four doubles and 14 RBIs over 13 games when the season was suspended. That included a three-homer game on March 10 and a seven-game hitting streak to close the shortened campaign.

• Dingler might have ranked even higher on this year’s Top 200 had he played more games in his sophomore season. A broken hamate bone in his left hand caused him to miss 19 games and sapped him of some of his power, though he still finished with a .291/.392/.424 slash line across 49 games and earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors.

• Athleticism runs in Dingler’s blood. His father, Scott, played Division III football for Denison University, and his mother, Pam, ran track at Division I Bowling Green.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.