With the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs upending the Torrington Titans, 7-4, on Wednesday night the collegiate summer baseball season in New England is officially under way with the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) getting in their hacks first.
Now in its third season of action, the same nine teams from a year ago return to the FCBL for a 54-game season one year after the league expanded by more than double, with the Nashua Silver Knights looking to maintain their monopoly on league championships.
The Pittsfield Suns will be the gracious hosts of the second annual All-Star Game on July 25th, with game time set for 7:05 p.m. at historic Wahconah Park.
Rosters are made up of 26 players who are currently enrolled NCAA or NAIA sanctioned college or university, with 13 of those players required to reside in or attend school in New England.
As the league continues gain a respectable reputation as a legitimate platform for young players, the latest crop of talent looks to elevate things to even greater heights.
"We have some great talent here and it needs to be showcased in a professional environment,” said league president Chris Hall in an article on the FCBL website (read here), “We feel the mix of players from New England and across the country creates a competitive atmosphere for our fan base."
To get a better idea of the talent that will comprise the FCBL rosters, let’s go team-by-team and check out some notable players.
Local talent: INF Ryan Tufts, Virginia Tech – Tufts represents one of the cool little bonuses of the FCBL where recent high school grads who will continue their careers in college have the chance to get in more work before matriculating in the fall. Tufts, a BC High standout and Catholic Conference All-Star, will follow the likes of Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt) as D1 talents who played for Brockton before starting their college careers.
National: RHP Tyler Sapp, San Diego State – He chose to play his college ball just 2 hours from his Yacaipa, California home, but will be spending his summer a bit futher away as he crosses the country to join up with the Rox. As a senior at Yucaipa High School he was named to the Rawlings/Perfect Game Preseason California Region All High School Honorable Mention Team. He made 2 starts and 13 appearances in his freshman season with the Aztecs.
Martha’s Vineyard Sharks
Local talent: RHP Jack Roberts, Williams – Before he leaves his island home for the green pastures of Williams College the former Martha’s Vineyard High School legend will get to pitch a few more times at the Vineyard Baseball Park that he has called home for four high school seasons.
National: C Chris Miller, Seton Hill – An imposing figure behind the dish at 6-foot-4 and 225-pounds. The White Oak, Pennsylvania native saw limited action as a freshman at Seton Hill, collecting 6 hits and 5 RBIs in 14 games. He had a .960 fielding percentage and only had one passed ball credited to him.
Nashua Silver Knights
Local talent: Sean and Connor Lyons, Northeastern – The Bedford, New Hampshire brothers return for another title run in Nashua. Connor was an All-Star last summer while Sean split time between the outfield and the mound. Fan favorites, the duo will be looked to for leadership this summer, having both been here before.
National: LHP Chris Good, Belhaven College – The big lefty from Texas is another returnee to the two-time defending champions. After transferring to Belhaven from New Mexico, Good went 14-3 with a 2.18 ERA in 18 appearances. Last season with Nashua Good went 5-2 with a 1.57 ERA in 9 starts.
North Shore Navigators
Local talent: INF Alex Markakis, St. Joseph’s (Maine) – The former St. John’s Prep second base standout returns to roam the infield at Frasier Field for another summer. Played in 41 of the Monks 45 games as a junior, collecting 29 hits (1 home run), 11 RBIs, 17 runs and a stolen base. Alex is the cousin of Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis.
National: OF Conor Biggio, Notre Dame – After playing last season with North Adams of the NECBL, the son of Astros great Craig Biggio returns to the region for another summer, this time coming a bit more east to Lynn. In his sophomore season with the Irish he batted .263, collected 10 hits and 4 stolen bases in limited action.
Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide
Local talent: 3B Sam Canales, Bowdoin – The Saco native and Thornton Academy alum returns for his second season with the Tide. As a sophomore at Bowdoin he batted .274 with 13 runs as the Polar Bears finished with a 23-15 record.
National RHP Ryan Otero, RHP Adam Sargent and RHP Enrique Sosa, Miami – A trio of Hurricanes righties make their way north for the summer, giving Seacoast an ACC flair on the mound. They combined to make 13 appearances for a Miami team that finished 37-25.
Local talent: INF John Kinne, Columbia – The Suns are proud to welcome Kinne as their “first Bershire County-born” player. Having just completed his freshman campaign at Columbia, the former Monument Mountain Regional star returns to the Bershires for the summer. In his first season with the Lions he went 8-for-13 with 2 doubles, 4 RBIs and 3 runs in 12 games played.
National: INF Bo Slemons, Xavier – A redshirt sophomore at Xavier, the Hubbard, Ohio native batted .343 in 20 games, scoring 8 runs and driving in 6. Was a three time All-Country Team selection while at Hubbard High School, where he posted a .459 career batting average in four seasons.
Local talent: LHP Jash Jacques, East Tennessee State – Not far from where he posted a 58-18 record at Somersworth High School, Josh Jacques returns to play some summer ball for the Mavs. In his first season with the Bucs he went 1-4 with a 4.60 ERA in 15 appearances, striking out 25 batters over 45 innings.
National: OF James Nevant, Notre Dame – A standout at T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, North Carolina, Nevant saw limited action in his freshman season with the Irish. He had 5 hits, 2 RBIs, 3 runs, a stolen base and a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Local talent: LHP Tom O’Brien, Siena - After only getting in 9 innings as a freshman with Siena, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound lefty will be only 15 minutes away from homebase in Watertown, Connecticut while he gets in some more work.
National: RHP Rhett Jones, RHP Spencer Thomas & C Kaleb Holbrook, South Georgia College – A trio of southern ballers look to add their charm to the Titans season. All three are Georgia natives helped the Tigers to a 20 win season in 2013.
Wachusett Dirt Dawgs
Local talent: LHP Joe Saia, Suffolk- The Everett High School product, and former Greater Boston League All-Star, was 3-1 with a 4.94 ERA in his second season with the Rams.
National: INF Austin Sistrunk, Limpscomb - Was the District 11A Player of the Year in Tennessee following his senior season at Franklin High School. As a freshman at Lipscomb he started 30 of the 33 games he played in and and collected 23 hits (3 home runs), 15 RBIs and 12 runs.
You can reach Craig Forde by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @OnDeckBDC.
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