After graduating from Brazoswood, Dustin Lacaze was ready to play at the next level. He has that same feeling now after being selected in the major league draft by the Arizona Diamonbacks.
A redshirt junior pitcher for Texas A&M Corpus Christi, he expected to be drafted, and when they called his name in the 21st round Wednesday night, he had his family around him in Lake Jackson.
“I was with my mom, grandma and nana,” he said. “It was just — they’ve never been through anything like this and neither had I. They were asking me questions and I am not going to lie, I was stressed out. I was giving them short answers and I really couldn’t talk to them too much.”
So he took a little time by himself as the rounds of the draft clicked off.
“Right around the 19th round I started getting phone calls and so I stepped outside and I sat by myself outside and I just wanted to think by myself for a little bit,” Lacaze said. “As soon as I stepped outside I got another call, so I knew I couldn’t go back inside now. So I was on the phone with the Diamondbacks guy when I got drafted and that’s when I heard the house just stomping and yelling and they all came outside, so that was a pretty special moment for all of us.”
Especially for his mom, Lori Wolf.
“My baby got drafted today,” she said. “He was very excited, and it was a relief.”
Lacaze is excited about the challenge of playing professionally, especially considering the injury challenges he has had to overcome just to get to this point in his career. The last one likely hurt his draft stock.
“I had a lot of draft talk from the very beginning that I was going to go pretty high, and it was all going good,” he said. “But then I ran into a finger problem on my thumb about halfway through the year. I had to have an ingrown nail cut out of it, so I couldn’t pitch for a week and about a three- to four-week span where I couldn’t do much with it. But I closed out the year pretty well.”
He made 13 starts last season and earned a spot on the All-Southland Conference Defensive Team. A right-hander, Lacaze recorded 81 strikeouts in 79 innings of work, striking out five or more in eight of his outings for the Islanders. That followed a sophomore season in which he finished second on the staff with 54 strikeouts in 13 starts, and nine starts over 19 appearances as a redshirt freshman.
The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Lacaze said through any struggles he had, the Islanders’ coaching staff remained confident in his ability.
“A lot of it has been the coaching, and that was one of the reasons why I went down there because they were really cool guys,” Lacaze said. “They believed in me from the start, and every time I talked to them I got the same kind of vibe from them. They let me pitch on Friday nights for three years and let me be the front guy of the rotation, which was awesome.”
Now it’s time for him to make the next step, and he’s glad it is coming with Arizona, a team with which he has a connection in scout Rusty Pendergrass.
Pedergrass, a former Astros scout whose past signings include Hunter Pence and Ben Zobrist, now scouts Southeast Texas for the Diamondbacks, which is how he met Lacaze.
“The Diamondbacks guy who selected me, I’ve known him for a while,” Lacaze said. “Me and Anthony Dahl, a teammate who graduated with me from Brazoswood, we played on a travel team that went to Florida and he was one of the coaches. I’ve had ties with him for about five or six years and he called and told me he’d like to have me, but that this was his last year, he was retiring. He told me that I was going to be his last pick that he would turn in. So that was pretty special to me and for him. He’s followed me all along, he really believed in me and he gave me the chance, and I couldn’t thank him enough afterward.”
Lacaze traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona to meet with the medical staff and take a physical. Then he will go through a two- to three-day minicamp before the Diamondbacks assign him to a minor league club.