A year can make all the difference.
One year ago, former Crystal Lake South pitcher Jason Decicco was playing at Division III Monmouth College in Monmouth. In August, he will head to Eastern Illinois to play Division I baseball.
In between, Decicco decided he needed a better fit and elected to return home and pitch for McHenry County College this spring. The decision paid off as he turned in his best season yet and caught the attention of Eastern Illinois.
“Any time you can go from a D-III school your freshman year to playing at a Division I school, that shows a tremendous work ethic,” MCC baseball coach Jared Wacker said.
Decicco is a left-handed pitcher who threw in 12 games for the Scots in 2018, including eight starts. He logged 57 2/3 innings (second-most on the team), going 5-2 with a 3.59 earned run average, 43 strikeouts, 16 walks and two complete games.
He’s not a pitcher who will overpower hitters with his velocity. His fastball hovers in the low 80s, reaching as high as 85.
At South, Decicco was mostly a bullpen arm for the Gators his senior year and he was not heavily recruited. Wacker estimated his fastball might have been in the high 70s as a senior in 2016.
“Senior year of high school it was more difficult for me,” Decicco said. “I really didn’t have the velocity to pitch in higher-level games, more competitive games. It was more of a mentality these past few years. I’ve been gaining velocity, but I’ve also been getting ahead with the mental part of the game and having confidence in myself in big moments.”
Wacker watched that confidence grow in Decicco’s one season at MCC. The coach didn’t know exactly how he would use Decicco coming into the year. The Scots had a lot of production to replace after losing about 75 percent of their innings pitched from 2017.
Decicco earned starts in bigger and bigger games as the season wore on.
“He throws a lot of strikes and he’s left-handed,” Wacker said. “Those two things will help you get outs, that’s for sure. I was really happy with how he competed. He was somebody that really attacked hitters.”
Jason Anderson has been the head baseball coach at Eastern Illinois for three seasons. Decicco will join another former Scot on the Panthers’ roster: Tyler Jones, a 2015 Jacobs grad.
EIU was exactly what Decicco set out to find. Academically, he plans on studying sports management. From a baseball perspective, the coaches believe he can help the team win.
“It’s not the big flashy school, but it had everything that I was looking for in a school,” Decicco said. “It was somewhere where the coaches and I both agreed that I could fit in.”
It’s too soon to know whether he’ll be starting games or coming out of the bullpen. That will depend how he performs in the fall and early part of the season.
“He can give them innings,” Wacker added. “From what I saw from a competitiveness standpoint, he’s definitely going to bring some value to the staff there.”