The Capital District connection to this year’s Chicago White Sox draft class runs deeper than Latham native and LaSalle Institute graduate Zach Remillard.
In the 23rd round, the White Sox selected Southern Maine shortstop Sam Dexter. The Oakland, Maine, native had just completed a four-year career with the Huskies where he became only the second NCAA Division III player to collect more than 300 hits and was the Division III Player of the Year in 2015.
“It was just an unexplainable feeling,” said Sam. “It’s something that I’ve been waiting for my whole life, and then to hear my name called was amazing.”
Sam is the oldest son of Tom Dexter — a three-sport star at Bethlehem Central High School in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“I’d say it’s very exciting, and it’s a dream come true for (Sam),” said Tom, who has lived and coached collegiately in Maine since 1989.
Like Tom, who excelled in football, basketball and baseball at Bethlehem from 1978-82, Sam was a three-sport star in high school. He was a first team all-state selection in football, hockey and baseball in his senior year and won a state title with the Messalonskee High School baseball team in 2012.
Coming from a family of athletes, Sam said it was natural for him to feed off the successes of his older sister, Anna, who was a star basketball player.
“We’re a competitive group, and we definitely push each other,” said Sam. “If one of us does well, the others feed off of that and want to do well, too.”
Sam chose to play baseball collegiately, and his career took off in a big way. He was named the Little East Conference, ECAC Division III and D3baseball.com New England Region Rookie of the Year in 2013 after batting .335 with 23 doubles, four home runs and 36 RBI. Following a strong sophomore season in 2014, Sam batted .441 with 21 doubles, eight home runs and 44 RBI in his junior season, which was when he was named the national Division III Player of the Year.
By the start of his senior season, Tom Dexter said Sam had attracted the attention of a scout in the Chicago White Sox organization.
“The scout was excited about his athletic ability. He could hit, he could field and he could throw,” said Tom. “I think a lot of people are kind of impressed about his play.”
Sam didn’t disappoint in his senior season at Southern Maine. He batted .404 with 23 doubles (tying his school record), five home runs, 44 RBI and 53 runs scored to earn first team All-American honors for the second year in a row.
Still, it came as a surprise to Sam when he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 23rd round.
“I thought I’d go much later than that,” he said.
Sam had some family company at Southern Maine in his senior season. His younger brother, Jake, joined the team and started 40 games for the Huskies at second base, creating an all-Dexter double play combo.
“It’s been a treat to watch them,” said Tom, who coaches football and baseball at nearby Colby College. “Since they were young, they were with me for baseball and football.”
It’s harder for Tom to watch Sam play these days. The White Sox placed Sam with their short-season rookie team in Great Falls, Montana, where he’s on the same roster as Zach Remillard.
Though Remillard hadn’t reported to Great Falls as of Monday, July 11, Sam said he’s looking forward to playing on the same team with him for the first time. Sam played against Remillard several times during the 2013 season when he played for Mohawk Valley in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, while Remillard was with the Albany Dutchmen.
“I got the chance to play against Zach that one summer, and it was great,” said Sam. “He’s a great player — winning the (College) World Series” with Coastal Carolina last month.
Tom said playing professional ball is a great opportunity for Sam.
“I’m very fortunate that he was able to play a lot of different levels of baseball (growing up),” he said.
Tom’s other children are also excelling at sports. Besides Jake, who just completed his first year of college baseball, and Anna, his daughter, Lydia, is a field hockey and lacrosse standout at Messalonskee High School who has already committed to playing field hockey for the University of Maine. And thanks to an easy recruiting schedule, Tom has been able to see all of his children play.
“We don’t recruit off campus (at Colby), so I get to stay home and watch the kids play,” said Tom. “Maine is a great spot to raise kids.”
Meanwhile, Sam is getting used to the pro baseball player’s life in Montana — a place far different than his home in Maine.
“I definitely miss the lakes and the ocean, and (the towns are) pretty much more condensed,” said Sam. “Here, you can drive for hours and not see much.”
Sam is also getting a quick education about what pro baseball is like. Through 15 games, he’s collected eight hits and seven RBI.
“I’d like to be playing better, but it’s all about making adjustments,” said Sam.