Outlook: Vermont celebrates 20 straight years of affiliated baseball at Centennial Field this season, giving the Burlington region much to celebrate this summer.
It was in 1994 when the Montreal Expos moved one of their minor league teams into town and through a name change and a few affiliate updates (Expos became the Nationals, A’s took over in 2011), the affection has never waned.
Now the likes of B.J. Boyd, Lou Trivino, Chad Pinder and Matt Stalcup will look to add to the history and lore of Vermont baseball.
Pinder enters the season as the highest drafted player out of this June’s first-year player draft.
The Virginia Tech product was taken in the third round, 71st overall, after entering the draft as the 22nd best positional player available per Baseball America.
A third baseman, Pinder is lauded for having an excellent approach at the plate, hitting .321 with eight home runs and 50 RBIs in his junior season with the Hokies.
Pinder is also a solid defender, having posted a .958 fielding percentage on 236 chances at the hot corner.
Boyd is the top ranked prospect on this year’s Lake Monsters squad, coming into the 2013 season ranked as Oakland’s 12th best prospect by MLB.com and 22nd by Baseball America.
A fourth-rounder out of the 2012 draft, Boyd chose baseball over football despite being heavily recruited as a running back and wide receiver.
There will also be some familiar faces returning to Burlington including Shane Boras, Austin Booker and Kelvin Rojas.
Thoughts: There are no names that jump off the page on the pitching staff, but Trivino is a notable option worth watching.
Trivino, an 11th round selection this year and tallest player on the team at 6-foot-5, had eight complete games (one no-hitter, five shutouts) in 12 starts for Slippery Rock as a junior, posting a 1.83 ERA and striking out a school record 92 batters.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Division 2 standout can carry this over, but this is the perfect level to provide a bit of stability and confidence to a player like Trivino.
Another point of note on the roster is the outfield, which is packed with eight players currently.
Expect Boyd to get plenty of playing time, so seven others will jostle for the other two open positions, which should provide some good competition in house.
Player to Watch: Boyd – Was drafted out of Palo Alto High School in California and Oakland was able to keep the highly touted football prospect close to home when they signed him for $300,000.
Baseball America says that he “has the components to be a future leadoff hitter” and that is backed by some blazing speed and an increased patience at the plate.
He is only 19-years-old, so he is still learning to work his 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame out of football mode and into 100% baseball mode.
He hit .301 and scored 37 runs in 39 games with the Arizona League A’s last year and stole 16 bases on 20 attempts.
He is far from a power hitter, but could be capable of providing some pop if he is works more at adjusting his swing, something that Oakland was tweaking in Arizona last season.
Boyd may not get the best breaks on balls in the outfield either, but with his speed he can correct mistakes in an instant and provide some flash.
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