Michael D’Ambrosio of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK runs to first base...

Michael D’Ambrosio of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK runs to first base after a hit against Port Washington in a Nassau Conference AAA-2 baseball game on April 29 at Port Washington. Credit: @Derrick Dingle/Derrick Dingle

The potential was obvious when Michael D’Ambrosio first made the varsity baseball team at Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK as a ninth grader, even though the opportunities to play were not.

Then came the progression. The sweet swing created more hard contact and the ball traveled farther. His pitches added velocity and his approach grew more sophisticated. He reached the high plateau of being selected a Newsday All-Long Island first team selection as a junior in 2023.

And now he finishes his high school career by winning the Joe Corea Diamond Award for a two-way player, a new distinction this season for Nassau County’s top all-around baseball player. It will be awarded annually, joining the Diamond Award for the county’s top pitcher and hitter.

Michael D'Ambrosio of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK poses for a portrait after winning the Joe Corea Dual Player Award at the Nassau County Baseball Coaches Dinner held at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: James Escher

D’Ambrosio received the award at the Nassau Baseball Coaches Association Awards Dinner on Wednesday at the Uniondale Marriott. He is the third player out of the Hawks program to win a Diamond Award in the past seven years, joining 2017 pitcher Mark Faello and 2022 pitcher Dylan Banner.

“Since he made the varsity, it’s been leaps and bounds,” Plainview coach John Givardgidze said. “He has realized so much potential and he’s been a great leader and teammate. He’s one of those guys who just keeps working his tail off to be a better baseball player. He’s always working on some part of his game.”

The numbers help tell the story of his excellence in 2024.

D’Ambrosio batted .471 in 89 at-bats over 25 games with 18 extra-base hits — including an Island-high 10 home runs (according to statistics reported to Newsday) — and 39 RBIs. His OPS was 1.059 and he struck out just 12 times.

His performance on the mound was a question mark going into the season as he was coming off a summer elbow injury, but he answered by going 7-1 in his eight starts with a 0.63 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .167 batting average. In 44 2/3 innings pitched, he struck out 52, walked 19 and allowed only four earned runs.

He pitched in two postseason games, beating Oceanside in a Nassau Class AAA quarterfinal series and throwing a semifinal series shutout against eventual county champion Farmingdale.

“There were elbow issues at times and he was still great,” Givardgidze said. “His velocity might have been a tick down from the season before but he (utilized) his slider and changeup more in his approach. He was more of a pitcher this season than a thrower.”

“He took his game to another level,” Plainview pitching coach Max Schonfeld said. “His velocity was always there and he was able to get most hitters out solely with that, but this year he was able to take full command of his off-speed pitches which helped him really separate himself from a very good varsity pitcher to a great one.”

He is likely to be deployed strictly as a pitcher at Hofstra and made the most of his final season as a hitter. He’d always taken a go-for-it tack in the batter’s box, but this season was consistently hitting balls hard — even for outs — because of improved discipline around the strike zone.

“While Michael is one of the most raw naturally talented players I’ve been around, he was also one of the hardest working,” Schonfeld said. “He was able to go from a freshman with not getting to play every day, to the best two-way player in the county his senior year. Michael will go down as one of the best players in program history, and it’s not unrealistic to think maybe even one of the best on Long Island.”

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