Delta Cleary, Jr. is back for his third season with the Ducks and the 27-year old outfielder is excited to come back and finish what he started with his Long Island teammates.
Cleary is originally from Jonesboro, AR, which is not your typical city where you’d find a professional baseball player developing. In fact, the outfielder describes his hometown as a basketball and football town rather then baseball. Baseball, however, was inspired by his cousin, who he says taught him about the game.
“My cousin was looking over me. He was the one that went to college and played baseball. I got to watch him a little bit when I was growing up,” he spoke proudly about the key role family has played throughout his career.
Cleary started his baseball development when he decided to attend Louisiana State University at Eunice before being drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 37th round of the 2008 amateur draft. He then spent seven seasons playing in the Rockies organization as well as part of his 2015 season playing for Harrisburg Senators (AA, Nationals).
Now Cleary is undisputable an asset to the Long Island Ducks. The outfielder led the Ducks and ranked third in the Atlantic League with a career-best .321 batting average during the 2016 season. In 107 games, he astonished many with a 52 RBI, 51 runs, 130 hits, 19 doubles and four triples. The switch-hitter also displayed blazing speed, ranking second on the team and fifth in the league with 32 stolen bases. Defensively, he led all Atlantic League qualifying outfielders with a .991 fielding percentage, committing just two errors in 215 total chances.
After the 2016 season concluded, Cleary went to Venezuela to participate in the Winter League.
“It was good. I got to meet a few guys that were able to help me out. They gave me a few small tips,” was how Cleary described the unique experience. He also spends his off-season head back home and helping his nephews work on their game as well.
The 2017 season is underway at Bethpage Park and Cleary is extremely excited to get back on the field and finish what they started with his old and new teammates.
As one of the veterans on the team this year, the outfielder is aware of the role he must play in leading the team to another successful season, “We lead by example as the core guys on the field, that’s how we do things around here,” Cleary said. “We come out and expect to win everyday.”
The dynamic of this year’s team is different than previous seasons and Cleary added, “We have a lot of power guys on the team this year, we didn’t really have too much of that over the last few years. So it’s a little easier for me now and the team to steal bases and get some runs scored.”
The roster for the Long Island Ducks is always changing through the season and they have contracts constantly being purchased mid-season but that turnover is not a challenge for Cleary or his teammates.
“It’s always been to play hard, do what I have to do to help the team win,” he said. “I know my game, which is getting on base and stealing bases is what I have to do as a team player. I think that will help out at the end.”
But that doesn’t matter, because, for Cleary, playing for the Long Island Ducks is a no-brainer, “This organization is a great organization and there’s good guys on this team,” he said. “I feel like I’m at home when I’m here. This is a place that will always be apart of my life just because of the family atmosphere is crazy. You are always around great people here, I love being around great people.”
And they love Delta Cleary, Jr.