This edition of C’s Chat looks back on the 2013 Northwest League championship season with Vancouver Canadians first baseman L.B. Dantzler.
The baseball journey for Dantzler began when he served as a batboy for Cleveland at its then-spring training home in Winter Haven, Florida. A high-school teammate of Baltimore Orioles slugger Trey Mancini at Winter Haven High School, Dantzler went the junior college route with two years at State College of Florida in Bradenton. He helped SCF win the FCSAA state title and earn a berth in the NJCAA World Series in his freshman year of 2010. The next season saw Dantzler bat .415 and drive in 50 runs for the Manatees en route to winning Suncoast Conference Player of the Year honours.
The University of South Carolina was the next stop for Dantzler and he helped the Gamecocks reach the 2012 College World Series in Omaha. Dantzler played a key role on and off the field for the Gamecocks. After a 1-5 start in Southeastern Conference play, Dantzler brought along his pet beta fish Reptar on a bus trip and that led to the team’s ‘Fear the Fish’ rallying cry. The left-handed hitting third baseman then delivered some key hits along the way including an extra-innings walk-off single against Clemson in the Super Regional and a two-run home run against Kent State to help South Carolina reach the final where they ultimately fell to the Arizona Wildcats. That home run was the last of his 10 dingers on the season in which he batted .262 and collected 48 runs batted in.
The 2013 season saw Dantzler switch infield corners as he manned first base in place of the departing Christian Walker, who had been drafted by Baltimore. Dantzler led South Carolina by slashing .322/.444/.617 with 32 extra-base hits that included 15 round trippers and 53 RBI. He won a slew of academic awards and made the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List.
The Toronto Blue Jays would select Dantzler in the 14th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft. After playing his first professional game with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, Dantzler was promoted to Vancouver and he was a force to be reckoned with. He made the Northwest League All-Star game and went on to earn NWL Most Valuable Player honours by leading the league with nine home runs, 20 doubles, 29 extra-base hits and slugging with a .302/.385/.504 batting line. Dantzler capped off the year in Game 3 of the Northwest League final against the Boise Hawks with a game-winning two-run double to give the Canadians a three-peat.
Baseball America rated Dantzler as the 19th best prospect in the Northwest League. In the BA scouting report, C’s manager Clayton McCullough lauded his first baseman for his ability to “get the barrel on a lot of pitchers because he has such an advanced approach. Certainly the bat is very mature. You don’t want to pitch to him in a big situation.” Spokane manager Tim Hulett added, “It’s tough to get in on him. He’s more of a pull hitter until he has two strikes, and then he uses the whole field. He has a nice, quick, short swing.”
The 2013 season was a tough act to follow for Dantzler as injuries and underperformance saw his career stall out in Dunedin in 2016. He had been in the Florida State League since 2014 after spending the first part of that year with the Lansing Lugnuts.
Dantzler now works as an insurance agent for State Farm in Charleston, South Carolina.
That’s where C’s Plus Baseball caught up with Dantzler to talk about his college career, the draft and his memories of that magical 2013 season in Vancouver.
Thanks a million to L.B. Dantzler for taking part in this edition of C’s Chat.