Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - South Anchorage High School 2021 graduate Dylan Maltby was enjoying a nice vacation flight to Arizona on Tuesday when he decided to peruse the Gatorade Player of the Year website.
On it, Maltby discovered he was the 2021 Gatorade Alaska Baseball Player of the Year.
“I was on a plane actually when I figured it out,” Maltby said. “They had sent me an email but I already knew before I saw the email. It feels great. It relieves a lot of pressure of trying to perform while the possibility of winning the award was out there. It allows me to play stress-free for the rest of the season.”
Maltby is currently playing American Legion baseball for South Post 4 in Anchorage and has signed a national letter of intent to play baseball on scholarship at Hesston College in Kansas this fall.
The six-foot 210-pound catcher led the South Wolverines to a 17-0 record and reached base in 16 of those 17 games via a hit or walk. He posted a .410 batting average with 17 RBI, 15 runs scored and a .625 on-base percentage.
Maltby, a First Team All-State selection led the Wolverines to the Division I state championship this past season at Anchorage’s Mulcahy Stadium, including a semi-final win over Juneau-Douglas.
“At the beginning of the season we kind of had a feeling that we were going to be up there with Juneau and Colony in the state championship,” Maltby said. “It felt great to get that done. Especially after South having a drought of being in the state championships let alone winning a state championship. And doing it with the team we did it with was amazing because we have all been playing together since we were nine or 10 years old.”
That rag-tag group of youngsters in Little League won a state title and advanced to the Little League World Series Regionals in San Bernardino, California.
“It came full circle for sure,” he said.
South’s history includes state titles in 2011, 2013 and 2016, and runners up honors in 2014 and 2015.
South dropped state title games to Sitka in 2017 and Juneau in 2018.
In 2019, the Wolverines did not make the state tourney and the 2020 season was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Maltby was a freshman on the 2018 team.
“I was lucky enough to be a manager on that team,” he said. “Just watching that. It kind of built something up. I was a starter on a great team the next year as a sophomore and we just fell short of the state tournament and then the season was taken in 2020. Now I finally got my chance as a senior and it felt great to come through for a school that is known as a power house but hasn’t been able to come through and win the big one.”
Maltby said college recruiting kept him focused during the pandemic.
“I needed to play in order to get where I wanted to be, get recruited, get a scholarship, get school paid for essentially,” he said.
Maltby and his teammates worked through their junior season in the Alliance Baseball League, formed to fill the void of the American Legion pandemic shutdown. The league would play roughly 400 games.
“It was definitely hard. You never expect a season to be completely wiped out,” Maltby said. “You really have to love the game.”
His love of baseball began at age three.
“Although my mom (Alicia) will say it was when I was in the womb,” Maltby laughed.
Maltby would follow his father Shawn, a former GM of the Peninsula Oilers in the Alaska Baseball League and current GM of the Anchorage Bucs, to every dirt, grass or turf field available in the state.
“Just being around all these college guys for such a long time, I knew growing up that this was the sport I wanted to pursue into the highest ranks,” he said. “Just being around all these guys that my dad brought up year after year to play for his squad. Not only me as a baseball player, it helped form myself whole, as baseball IQ is a huge thing. You can be good with pure athletic ability but to be great you need to have a good baseball IQ. I am not saying I am great but baseball IQ is something I am known more for I believe.”
Maltby began catching at age 11 but said he didn’t get good at it until last season, when he learned to block the ball better and “get dirty.”
Now into the summer American Legion season Maltby is getting dirty as South Post 4 has an 11-1 Alaska Legion record to date.
“Sorry for your hometown Juneau, we took them down two games last weekend back-to-back,” he said. “I expect them to be the best team. They are super good competition every time we play them. Juneau is amazing competition, amazing sportsmanship, too. They always keep their heads high.”
Maltby also commented on the support he has received from his family, fans, teammates and the community of Anchorage.
“I just want to thank them for endless support,” he said. “No matter what they have always been there... Especially in schooling. To be honest, my first two years in high school I was very bad in school, but the final two years I picked it up, retook classes and ended up with a 3.25. I could not have done any of that without support.”
The Gatorade Player of the Year honor also takes grades and community service into account. Maltby volunteers in golf tournaments, as a camp counselor and a youth baseball coach.
“Just keep working” is his advice to all young players.
“I never expected this,” he said. “Just work hard and things will work out in the end. No matter how bad a game you had before or anything like that. I never expected this to happen. Just keep working, perfecting your game, work hard in the classroom. If you can stay good in the classroom and give back to your community, you’ll be remembered for a long time.”
Prior Alaska baseball selections have included West’s Leland Wilson (2020), South’s Jacob Woodall (2019), Juneau-Douglas’ Michael Cesar (2018) and South’s Jonny Homza (2017), who is currently with the San Diego Padres.
Major League players who have received Gatorade’s national honor include Derek Jeter (1992), Jon Lester (2002), David Price (2004), Clayton Kershaw (2006), Rick Porcello (2007) and Kris Bryant (2010).
“If that happened I would be beyond surprised,” Maltby said of the national award. “There are a lot of great players in the nation. A lot of great players going big places. It would be something if that happens, it would be something.”
Maltby will be at Hesston College soon. The private two-year liberal arts school nurtures their students academically, socially and spiritually. The Larks baseball team just completed their best season. After two years Maltby hopes to find a spot on a larger, four-year university’s roster and maybe a “name call out” on a Major League draft night.
“It will be relieving to be out on a college field,” he said. “With a bunch of college teammates. People who I have never met. Making life-long friendships. It will be pretty cool.”
He will major in psychology. It is similar to what he has done his whole career as a catcher dealing with the emotions of pitchers, the adrenaline of his infielders and expectations of coaches.
Something a good player with a great baseball IQ has a lifetime of practice in.
ABOVE/BELOW - South Anchorage catcher Dylan Maltby, shown in the state tournament at Mulcahy Stadium, was selected the 2020-21 Gatorade Alaska Baseball Player of the Year on Tuesday. (Klas Stolpe / KINY)