Lynchburg’s Dalbert Siri Strives to Reach the Major Leagues

Dalbert Siri is a solidly built right-hander out of Moca in the Dominican Republic. The 6’2”, 190 lb. 22 year-old reliever, signed when he was 19, rather late for players coming out of the Caribbean. The strongest prospects usually ink a contract the day they turn 16, the earliest legal age they can sign with a Major League organization.

Those top international signings often have the benefit of playing at one of the various training centers where they go to school, play ball, and get exposure to one or more Major League organizations. Siri, on the other hand, only started to play baseball at the age of 14 in Little League.

“I had to do a lot of hard work to get noticed,” Siri said. “My mother paid to have someone teach me baseball, so I took it seriously and played every day.”

Before taking up a glove and heading to the mound, Siri played basketball and volleyball. When he switched to baseball, he stopped playing other sports. His hard work on the mound paid off, with the Cleveland organization offering him a contract, though not one like the top shelf international talent.

“I wanted to sign with the Indians because I thought I could move quickly towards Major League baseball,” said Siri about why he chose the Cleveland offer.

Siri spent 2015, his first season under contract, with the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League entry for the Cleveland Indians. Siri earned an All-Star nomination that summer, his first of three such awards. This league offers players a chance to showcase their talent to the signing organization, and earn a chance at getting a visa for the following year and playing on an affiliated club somewhere in the United States.

In 16 games, Siri got five starts and eleven relief appearances. Over 36.1 innings, he produced a 2-3 record, with 29 strikeouts and only a single home run allowed. The following season, most of his playing time was for the Rookie-level Arizona League Indians, but he did get two appearances for Mahoning Valley of the New York-Penn League.

Moving up to a full season league in 2017, Siri earned a mid-season All-Star nod with the Lake County Captains of the Midwest League. Pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, he served as the team’s closer, nailing down 14 saves in 16 opportunities.

“As a reliever, I’m always working on tightening the strike zone, throwing more strikes,” Siri said about his approach to becoming a better closer.

He began the current season as a principal end-game option out of the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats bullpen, sharing opportunities with Henry Martinez. Upon Martinez’ promotion to AA Akron, James Karinchak, newly arrived from Low-A Lake County, joined him as co-closer for the Hillcats squad. Through it all, Siri is working to improve and move up the organizational ladder.

“For the relievers you have less one-on-one time with them,” said Hillcats pitching coach Tony Arnold. “You have to get them on a schedule so that they are able to have a routine that allows them to be consistent on the mound.”

Through his first 23 appearances, Siri was one of the most stable relief arms for the Hillcats. Mixing a combination of fastball, sinker and slider, he posted a 1.95 ERA in 27.1 innings, with 42 strikeouts.

Unfortunately for Siri and the Hillcats, his 24th appearance did not go so well.

Coming on to start the ninth inning, facing the Potomac Nationals, he was called on to preserve a 4-3 Hillcats lead. He only pitched two-thirds of an inning and surrendered four runs, three of them earned, to raise his ERA to 3.18 and deliver a victory to Potomac on a night that the Hillcats had battled Stephen Strasburg, who was in town for a rehab start.

“When you have a bad night, the next day you have to leave this behind. You have to be ready for the next day,” said Siri about the pitfalls of being a reliever. “I work to do my best every day, I don’t think about goals.”

He was able to do that his next time out on Friday, July 13. He worked an inning and a third, retiring all four batters that he faced while striking out one to earn his fifth save of the season in Lynchburg’s win over the Carolina Mudcats.

His goal is the Major Leagues. Siri gives former Potomac National Juan Soto as an example. In Potomac’s first visit to Lynchburg City Stadium this season, Soto had just been promoted from Low-A Hagerstown. Several weeks later he was in the Majors and looks to stay.

When Siri is called on to come out of the bullpen, the Hillcats play a short video they have made featuring Siri. You may have noticed his surname is spelled the same as the virtual voice on your iPhone or other Apple device.

The short, humorous video has a number of players pondering questions, like who starred in a particular movie. Siri pops up in the background and answers his teammates’ question, before they can pick up their smart phones and ask the virtual Siri.

His early season success earned him a trip to the Carolina League All-Star game in Zebulon, North Carolina, his third such honor.

“It’s not like going to the Majors,” said Siri about going to the High-A All-Star Game. “It’s just for the league, and you still have to do the same thing you do every day.”

In Zebulon, he got to pitch a single inning for the North squad, following teammate and fellow All-Star Sam Hentges. He earned a hold, striking out one of the three batters that he faced, but the North would go on to lose this year’s exhibition contest.

When he is not working hard at mastering the craft of pitching, he spends time in the gym working to get stronger and improve his endurance.

With the long baseball season, Siri will continue to work with his teammates and coaches to improve his performance and get that opportunity to move up to the next level in the organization, keeping his sights focused on a chance to play in the Major Leagues.

David Freier was born in Brooklyn New York in 1966 less than a decade after the Dodgers had departed the very same borough. His first professional baseball game was at Yankee stadium and to this day he and his father still argue over who started for the Orioles that day (his father says Mike Cuellar, while he insists it was Jim Palmer). Being a lover of underdogs he naturally became a Mets fan. He grew up in Montclair New Jersey which had the advantage of being home to two baseball legends, Yogi Berra and Larry Doby, as well as having a local college which regularly held baseball card conventions that fed his baseball card hobby. While attending college at the University of Richmond he and some of his friends attended a Richmond Braves game in the then (1985) brand new Diamond stadium, and now home to the Richmond Flying Squirrels. This began what has become a passion for the minor leagues of baseball. During his 10 years as a Richmond resident he and his future wife developed an affinity for the Braves, especially when Richmond fan favorite Francisco Cabrera scored the winning run to knock the Pirates from contention and vault the Braves into the World Series of 1991. During extensive travels he has rooted for the Minnesota Twins, Minneapolis Loons, St. Paul Saints, Iowa Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Erie Sea Wolves, Berkshire Bears and of course the Lynchburg Hillcats. To date he has visited over 110 different baseball parks in which he has seen a game. He joined the Society for American Baseball Research in 2000 and has been a member ever since, where he participates on the Biographical and Minor Leagues committees when time permits. In his day job he is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Science at Lynchburg College in Virginia.

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