Versatile Canzone leads way for Cardinals

Front Royal Cardinal's Dominic Canzone heads to third base on a ground ball against New Market Rebels on June 26 at Rebel Park in New Market. Canzone, who plays at Ohio State University, is one of the top leaders for the Cardinals this season with two homers and 13 RBIs. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Dominic Canzone had a strong season in his first year of college, and now he’s continuing that in the Valley Baseball League.

The Front Royal Cardinal outfielder can do a little bit of everything on the field.

“Offensively, he’s about the closest thing to a five-tool player I’d say we have,” Front Royal head coach Brian Daly said. “He hits for power, average. He’s got a great arm, great speed. He’s a guy that we can put pretty much anywhere in the lineup.”

Daly said they can put Canzone, who just finished his freshman season at Ohio State University, at the top of the lineup to get on base and steal a base as well as in the third spot in the lineup because of his power, or in the five spot to help protect whoever is batting cleanup.

“Having a guy like that on your team is a great asset, because he can do so many things and he does them all well,” Daly said. “It gives us a lot of options both offensively and defensively.”

Front Royal Cardinal's Dominic Canzone drops out of the batter's box between pitches against New Market Rebels on June 26 at Rebel Park in New Market. Rich Cooley/Daily

Daly said he has used Canzone in both right field and center field this season.

Canzone is from Sagamore Hills, Ohio, and he said playing at Ohio State is a dream come true for him.

As a freshman, Canzone led the Buckeyes with a .343 (57-for-166) batting average. He started 39 games and played in 49 games. Canzone had three home runs, four doubles, three triples, 36 RBIs and 22 runs scored for the Buckeyes this past season. He also earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors on April 10.

“At first it was a little rough just getting used to it all,” Canzone said of his freshman season. “I wasn’t hitting very well and coach kept his confidence in me. And I started hitting a lot better and getting a lot more reps.”

Canzone, who is left-handed, said the biggest adjustment he had to make was knowing when to lay off of off-speed pitches.

He said he feels like being left-handed does help him at the plate, and he tries to watch what pitchers are throwing to other left-handers.

On the base paths, Canzone is also very effective. He had 13 stolen bases at Ohio State, and he already has 14 this season for the Cardinals.

“I look for tendencies for sure off the pitchers,” Canzone said. “You basically just focus in and tell yourself I’m going to go on one look this time. Or I’m going to go on two looks this time. So it’s whatever you think their tendency is going to be and you just go off of that.”

Canzone is batting .338 (25-for-74) for the Cardinals. He has three doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs.

He has some familiar faces with him in Front Royal this season. Ohio State teammates Conner Pohl (infielder) and Michael McDonough (pitcher) are also playing for the Cardinals this season.

“We’ve been playing together for a little over a year now,” Canzone said. “And just building a relationship not just through the college season but through the summer ball season has been special. I just want to keep building that relationship, never take a day for granted playing with those guys.”

Pohl was second at Ohio State in batting average, hitting .325 this past season. Canzone said he and Pohl are constantly helping each other out and giving each other tips.

The Cardinals are 10-10 on the season, and three games behind Purcellville in the North Division.

“We definitely have a lot of talent,” Canzone said. “We’re coming together. It takes a team a little bit of time, especially when you’ve just come together. I think we’re about to hit our stride.”

Daly said that Canzone has a lot of potential and he believes he could make the Major Leagues once he’s eligible after his junior year.

“I don’t think his junior year can come soon enough,” Daly said. “After the year he’s had at school, I know he’s already on some team’s radars. He won’t be able to go until his junior year. It will be an exciting time for him. To be where he’s at now, it’s kind of scary to think where he might be by the time he’s a junior. I won’t be surprised if he’s a top-round guy when that time comes.”