The Red Sox short-season Single A affiliate Lowell Spinners are in the dog days of the New York-Penn League, and looking to gain ground in the Stedler Division. At 10-14 on the season, the Spinners find themselves six games behind the Vermont Lake Monsters while sitting at third place in the division. The Wild-Card race is as tight as fans will ever see it, with four teams tied at the top and the Spinners sitting four games behind. The team is entering in a vitality important stretch of the season, as they will host 7 games over the course of 6 days from July 17 through July 22. First up is a four-game series against the Aberdeen Ironbirds from July 17-19, followed by a three-game series against the Tri-City ValleyCats.
Statistical performances continue to show the promise of the Red Sox farm system and hope that the success of the big league team in town will not slow down. Dakota Smith has started out very nicely for the Spinners and has likely been their best pitcher to this point in the season. In five starts for the team, Smith has a 2-1 record with a 2.08 ERA with 20 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.08. The team’s best relief pitcher has been Joan Martinez, who has made seven appearances for the team and continues to impress with an ERA of 1.46 and a WHIP of 0.97. Raiwinson Lameda has led the team at the plate so far this season, leading the Spinners in total bases (35), RBI (12), hits (23), doubles (5) and at-bats (89). Right behind Lameda is Yoan Aybar who is tied with 12 RBI and has 33 total bases while compiling an average of .269.
The Spinners have many great promotions coming up this week that will make the games worthwhile to attend. On July 20, Andrew Benintendi bobble-heads will be handed out at the gates to fans entering the game, while on July 22 New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell will be attending the game.
Cape Cod Baseball League
The CCBL has recently passed the mid-way point of their season, and finds almost all league teams in playoff races that have become jumbled and could finish in a number of different ways. In the East Division, the Orleans Firebirds are currently out in front with a 19-10 record and 38 points on the season so far. The 3X-defending champion Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox are just behind them with 35 points and a 17-11-1 record. The Brewster Whitecaps (31 points), Chatham Anglers (30 points) and Harwich Mariners (21 points) are chasing their rivals at the top of the standings. In the West Division, the Bourne Braves lead a super tight playoff race with 30 points and a 15-14 record. Following closing behind are the Cotuit Keetlers (29 points), Falmouth Commodores (27 points), Wareham Gateman (27 points) and Hyannis Harbor Hawks (24 points). The top four teams in each division will make the playoffs at the end of the 44-game regular season.
The future major league players in the Cape League have been putting on a show for the communities that support them. Falmouth’s Alec Bohm (Wichita State) is second in the league in batting average with a mark .376, while also being second in the league in at-bats with 117. Bohm is comfortably in the league with 44 hits. Cotuit’s Griffin Conine (Duke) has also dominated at the plate, leading the league in home runs with 7 and second with 24 RBI while still maintaining a .324 batting average. The pitching across the CCBL has been just as impressive, with pitchers across the Cape impressing the MLB scouts in attendance. Kris Bubic (Stanford) leads the league with 32 strikeouts while compiling a 3-1 record and a 1.95 ERA for Yarmouth-Dennis. The league leader in ERA is Miller Hogan (St. Louis University) of Wareham who has a 1.08 mark with a 3-0 through 25 innings pitched. Hogan’s teammate Justin Montgomery (Cal Baptist) started the season with 21 straight scoreless innings and is second in the league with a 1.16 ERA. Fellow Wareham pitcher Griffin Roberts (Wake Forest) is third in the league with a 1.73 ERA, giving the Gateman three of the top pitchers in the entire CCBL.
The busy schedule for team’s continues through the end of the scheduled regular season on August 3 (barring rain-outs) and the playoffs are scheduled to begin on August 5. On July 22, the annual Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game will take place at Spillane Field in Wareham, which will be preceded the night before by the first-ever Celebrity Softball Game to benefit Spaulding Rehabilitation Center. The All-Star Game will be broadcast on Fox College Sports and WCAI National Public Radio. Also Fox College Sports games include Yarmouth-Dennis at Harwich on July 18 at 6:30 and Wareham at Brewster on July 19 at 5:00. Every Sunday night a CCBL game can be heard on WEEI 96.3 Cape Cod Sports Radio, including a July 23 match-up between Brewster and Hyannis.
Future’s Collegiate Baseball League
As the FCBL season chugs along, so do the playoff hopes for the six Massachusetts teams who call the league home. In the West Division, the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs continue to hold onto a lead in the division despite losing 7 of their last 10 games. At 20-15 and with 40 points on the season, they hold a one-point lead over the Pittsfield Suns, who are 19-19 with 39 points. The Worcester Bravehearts are currently 16-20 with 33 points on the season, only three points behind third place, which is held by the Bristol Blues. The East Division is also led by a Bay State squad in the Brockton Rox, who hold the best winning percentage (.611) and most points (44) on the season with a 22-14 record. The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks are trying to keep up with the Rox with a 17-19 record and 35 points on the season. And after starting the season off with 7 loses in a row, the North Shore Navigators have stormed back are no longer in the basement of the standings, and are in prime position for a playoff berth with a 16-20 record and 33 points on the season.
Players continue to put up impressive numbers and wow the fans who are so loyal to the FCBL teams. Alex Brickman (St. Petersburg Junior College) has been one of those players impressing fans and scouts alike for the North Shore Navigators. Brickman leads the league in RBI (41) with a .306 batting average while also throwing 16 innings on the mound and picking up a save. His teammate, Austen Michel (Dartmouth College) is second in the league with an ERA of 1.55, second only to Mason Palmieri (Bryant) of the Brockton Rox who has been impressive with a 1.09 ERA. Palmieri’s teammate Zack Martin (Notre Dame) leads the league with 48 strikeouts on the season, giving the Greater Boston area two of the better rotations in the FCBL. Two of the best power hitters in the league play in Central Massachusetts, in Zack Tower (Franklin Pierce) of the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs and Joseph Caico (University of New Haven) of the Worcester Bravehearts. Tower leads the league with 10 home runs and has a batting average of .306, while Caico is right behind his rival with 9 home runs and is also second in the league in runs scored with 31.
The league will take a two-day break from the normal game schedule for the All-Star Game, which will take place on July 18 in Bristol, Connecticut. When the All-Star break is complete, the schedule has games will playoff implications across the state. The Dirt Dawgs will head to Martha’s Vineyard to take on the Sharks on July 20, before heading to Worcester to take on their division rival Bravehearts on July 21. The league season lasts 56 games, with most teams having around 20 games left in the regular season. The top three teams in each division will make the postseason.
New England Collegiate Baseball League
With the NECBL season approaching the final chapter, Massachusetts teams have put themselves in a great position to make a postseason appearance. The Valley Blue Sox are 16-13 on the season and find themselves in second place the Northern Division, needing a few more wins to lock up a spot in the playoffs and potentially make a championship run. The other team in the Northern Division is the North Adams SteepleCats, who sit at 12-19 but are only 2.5 games behind third place, and a strong finish out in the Berkshires could also put them in the postseason. In the Southern Division have gone on a nice run by winning 7 of 10 games and are currently in second place with a record of 18-14. The New Bedford Bay Sox are 13-16 and despite sitting near the bottom of the Southern Division standings, are only 1.5 games behind third place.
Players in the Bay State continue to put up impressive numbers for the loyal fans who come out to watch games. Blake Whitney (South Carolina Upstate) is absolutely dominating on the mound with 69 strikeouts for North Adams, which leads the league by a wide-margin and will almost certainly make him the strikeout leader at season’s end. Teammate Robert Donnelly (SUNY-Owsego) is tied for the league lead in wins with a 5-2 record. New Bedford pitcher Brent Teller (Sacred Heart), is near the top of the league’s ERA leaders with a 1.42 in 25.1 innings pitched. Teller’s Bay Sox teammate Luke Bakula (Kansas), has continued his torrid pace at the plate, and is in third place in the NECBL with a batting averge of .351.
Incredibly important games for all Bay State teams are fast approaching. On July 17 at 6:30 North Adams will host the Valley Blue Sox is an important rivalry game with playoff implications. The Blue Sox will then host the Plymouth Pilgrims on July 22 at 6:35, in a match-up of the two teams currently in second place in each division. Each team will host games during this upcoming week, with the full schedule being found on the league website. The regular season lasts 42 games, with each team having about 10 games left in their regular season. The top three teams in each division will advance to the postseason. On July 30, North Adams will host the NECBL All-Star Game.