From From Charger to Duck: Dean Toigo's Power Swing in College Baseball

by Aaron Simon

   In the demanding world of college baseball, a few exceptional players are able to transcend the sea of talent through their on-field prowess and a powerful mix of hard work, mental toughness, and an innate ability to rise to challenges. Dean Toigo, a rising star who carved a path from Cyprus College to the University of Oregon, embodies these characteristics in every sense.

    

   Hailing from Yorba Linda, California, Toigo's journey to this stage of his career was far from easy. Junior college baseball, with its gritty demands and harsh realities, implanted the mindset he considers an asset.  



   In reflecting on this period, he acknowledges, "the journey wasn’t easy. Junior college baseball is a grind and it helps to build mental toughness and this is exactly what it did for me." This experience, and his unwavering determination and self-belief, helped Toigo navigate his way to the University of Oregon, a prospect that leaves him excited.

    

   While at Cyprus, Toigo improved from 2022 to 2023. His secret: refining the little things and embracing the freedom to shape his playing style. This approach allowed him to elevate his game while remaining authentic to his instincts. 

    

   "I didn’t make too many mechanical adjustments, just kinda fine-tuning the little things," he explains.

    

   While Toigo was ranked as the 371st high school player in California, that did little to dampen his ambition or faith in his potential. Any moments of doubt were overcome by sheer determination, fueling his climb to where he is now. 

    

   "I always knew that I was gonna be able to play at this level and beyond. I'll admit, there were times where I doubted myself and what the next plan was, but I stuck to it and continued to work my ass off to get to where I am now," he confesses.

    

   An examination of his strategy reveals a player who values precision and adaptability. His approach at the plate is rooted in the philosophy of striking hard and early, adjusting his projections as the count progresses. His mindset extends beyond the batter's box, with a keen eye for exploiting opportunities on the field. 

    

   "My approach is that I am trying to hit the ball very hard early in the count anywhere. If I get ahead of the count, I shift the projection to hitting it a little further out in front than I would with 2 strikes," Toigo shares.

    

   Toigo's time on the field with fellow player Eddie Hacopian, both at Cyprus and Bethesda, stands as a testament to the bond forged through shared passion and hard work. And Toigo speaks fondly of his two-time teammate.

    

   "Eddie is a unique talent. The way he grinds and works his way on base is inspiring. His passion for the game is infectious, and it's always a thrill to watch him in action. With him hitting in front of me, it feels like he’s on base almost every time I hit, which always keeps the energy high.”

    

   As Toigo prepares to step into the limelight at the University of Oregon, he remains focused on making an immediate impact and striving for a national championship. This larger stage doesn't daunt him; instead, he relishes the pressure and the competition it brings. 

    

   "I think the biggest thing I want to do is come in and make an immediate impact on both sides of the field,” he asserts. “After watching [Oregon] make the supers, I want to make it to Omaha and hopefully win a national championship.”

    

   His commitment to the game does not waver during summer baseball. While his focus shifts towards enjoying his time playing and honing his skills at bat, the core objective remains the same: winning.

   This past summer, Toigo's impact on the Bethesda Big Train was apparent, with significant contributions to the team's success. 

   Reflecting on this, he comments, "It feels good, I know the abilities that I have been given and it is cool to see them put to good work with all of the fellow players from all over the country."

    

   Among his highlights from his time with the Big Train are the fans and the atmosphere during home games, which offered him the opportunity to perform in front of larger crowds than ever before. As for a memorable game? Homering in the do-or-die game 3 of the semifinal against Cropdusters baseball stands out, offering a thrilling testament to his skills.

    

   Toigo's advice to younger players looking to increase their RBI total is straightforward and echoes his own approach: "Look to do damage early in the count and adjust later on in the at bat. And don’t be afraid to let loose and try to hit a bomb."

    

   Toigo's off-field interests show another facet of his personality. He is a passionate gamer and sneaker enthusiast. 

    

   "I've always had a love for sneakers, ever since I was a kid. My collection isn't as extensive as it once was - I've had to be a little more money-conscious lately - but I still appreciate the design and craftsmanship that goes into a great pair," Toigo says. Even as his sneaker collection has seen a slight decrease of late, his interest in video games, particularly FIFA, remains strong.

    

   Toigo played a key role in the Big Train’s run through the playoffs to its 10th Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate Baseball League Championship. He went 6/22 with 2 homers and 7 RBI. One of those homers was a 2-run shot in the first inning of game 1 of the League Championship Series against the Alexandria Aces in Virginia. It helped set the tone for the Big Train’s sweep.



   Following a successful season with the Big Train, and with division 1 baseball at Oregon ahead of him, Toigo is a player to watch and is ready to get going.

    

   "The [Big Train] season was truly rewarding. While I was antsy about returning home near the end, I'm grateful for the entire experience," he said.

    

   Toigo is ready to make a significant impact in Eugene and his consistent performances and ability to rise up amidst the pressure have been instrumental to his teams' success wherever he goes. There is little doubt Toigo will continue to captivate and excel as the expectations rise. He has done it thus far in his baseball career, and it will be exciting for Big Train fans to watch him do it again at the next level.