Although he was drafted by a West Coast team, former Auburn slugger Sonny DiChiara isn’t going far to start his pro baseball career.
DiChiara inked his deal with the Los Angeles Angles Organization on Friday, according to a report from MLB.com’s Jim Callis, and will directly report to the Angles’ Double-A affiliate, the Rocket City Trash Pandas.
The Trash Pandas play in Madison. It’s a short drive west of Huntsville and about a 3.5 hour drive from Auburn.
According to Callis’ report, DiChiara also signed for $172,500, which was about $210,700 under his slot value at No. 148 overall.
DiChiara joins a Rocket City squad that’s currently 9-9, tied for the fourth-best record in the Southern League, and they’re a part of what was ranked the fourth-worst farm system in the MLB ahead of the 2022 season according to MLB.com. The Angels’ other affiliates include the Salt Lake Bees (Triple-A) and the Tri-City Dust Devils (High-A).
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A Birmingham-area native, DiChiara transferred to Auburn after three seasons at Samford and continued what had already been a dominant career at the plate. In his lone season on the Plains, DiChiara slashed .383/.549/.777 while hitting 22 home runs, tallying 59 RBI and drawing 68 walks to 55 strikeouts.
The first baseman also became a fan favorite for his nicknames — The Thicc King and Sonny D — as well as his 263-pound frame and unorthodox walk-up song, Italian singer Louis Prima’s rendition of “Che La Luna.”
Sonny D was one of eight Auburn players selected in this year’s MLB Draft, which was the second most in the program’s history, and the most it had ever had selected in the draft’s first 20 rounds.