The first step for young prospects on the road to Fenway Park is at Lelacheur Park with the Lowell Spinners. The team began play in the New York-Penn League back on June 19, and will play a short season with 76 games this summer. The first recently completed their 19th game, putting them 1/4 of the way through their season. The Spinners sit at 9-10 on the season so far, putting themselves into a tie for second place in the Stedler Division, 4 games behind the division leader, the Vermont Lake Monsters. In the Wild Card Race, the Spinners currently sit 2.5 GB the Aberdeen Ironbirds.
The ball club has seen some impressive stat performances so far, lending hope that the Red Sox success will continue for many years to come. Top prospect Jay Groome made three starts for the Spinners, registering 14 strikeouts with an ERA of 1.64 and a WHIP of 0.91 before being promoted to the Greenville Drive. Brian Johnson made one rehab start for Lowell, after being placed on the DL following four starts for the Red Sox. The best pitcher for the team so far this season has been Dakota Smith, who has compiled a 2-1 record in four starts, striking out 17 with a 2.18 ERA. Hitters for the Spinners has varied, as many players have been bouncing around the Red Sox farm system. Raiwinson Lameda has been the most consistent for the Spinners so far, playing in 18 of 19 games while batting .284 with 1 home run and 11 RBI.
The Spinners will on the road this entire week, but return to Lelacheur Park next week for a series against Aberdeen from July 17-19 followed by a visit from Tri-City from July 20-22. Head to the Spinners website to purchase tickets for these games.
Cape Cod Baseball League
The Cape League has reached the mid-season mark of the summer. The league has seen incredibly competitive play so far and has found itself with tight playoff races in both divisions. At 30 points, the Orleans Firebirds lead the East Division with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox and Brewster Whitecaps close behind at 25 points. The Chatham Angelers sit at 20 points during coach John Schiffner’s final season, while the Harwich Mariners round out the division with 15 points on the season so far. In the West, the Cotuit Keetleers lead the division with 28 points at the mid-way point of the season. They are closely followed by the Bourne Braves (24 points), Falmouth Commodores (23 points) and Wareham Gateman (21 points). The Hyannis Harbor Hawks round out the division with 19 points on the season.
As is expected, the league has seen some impressive stat outputs this season as players look to impress MLB scouts that attend many of the games. The best hitter in the league has been Marty Bechina (Michigan State), who plays for Falmouth. In 22 games for the Commodores, Bechina is hitting at a clip of .304 while leading the league in home runs (7) and RBI (21). Right behind Bechina has been Griffin Conine (Duke) of Cotuit, who is hitting .345 with 5 home runs and 20 RBI, just behind Bechina in power hitting categories. Justin Montgomery (Cal Baptist), continues to be on a tear on the mound, throwing 21 scoreless innings to start his season with a 3-0 record for Wareham. Montgomery has 24 strikeouts to only 6 walks, and has a WHIP of 0.90. Zane Collins (Wright State) has also stood out this season, with a 0.96 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 18.1 innings, compiling a record of 3-1 for Cotuit. On July 3, Collins throw a complete game shutout for the Keetleers over Wareham.
Two games can be seen on Fox College Sports this upcoming week. On July 12, Cotuit will visit Hyannis for a 6:00 first pitch, while the next night July 13, fans can watch Bourne face off against Yarmouth-Dennis at 5:00. On July 16, Sunday Night Baseball on WEEI will feature Yarmouth-Dennis taking on Falmouth for a 6:00 first pitch. In less than two weeks, one of the most exciting weekend’s of the season will commence in the Spaulding Rehab Hospital/Cape Cod’s All-Star Weekend. It will begin with the first ever Celebrity Softball Game on July 21 at McKeon Park in Hyannis, with appearances from Bill Lee, Jose Santiago, Jason Varitek, Nancy Kerrigan and Scott Zolak. The next day will feature the Friendly’s Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game at Spillane Field in Wareham. The following Monday, July 24, all league players will travel to Fenway Park to work out for all 30 MLB teams as well as the MLB Scouting Bureau.
Future’s Collegiate Baseball League
The FCBL has also just passed the mid-way point of their season, with playoff races heating up throughout the league. In the West Division, the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs are narrowly holding on to lead at the top of the division with 36 points on the season. The Bristol Blues are right behind them at 34 points. Massachusetts rivals the Pittsfield Suns (33 points) and Worcester Bravehearts (29 points) follow closely behind. In the East Division, the Brockton Rox lead the division with 36 points to tie them with the Dirt Dawgs for most points in the league. The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks trail them with 31 points on the season, and despite only having 23 points on the season, the North Shore Navigators have recently been on an up-swing, winning 11 of their last 18.
Joseph Caico (University of New Haven) continues to dominate in the batter’s box for Worcester. In 31 games played, Caico leads the league in home runs (9) and RBI (31), while maintaining a batting average of .310. Zach Tower (Franklin Pierce) has also shown incredible power for Wachusett, blasting 9 home runs with 23 RBI while batting .333. Billy Devito (University of Hartford) has been one of the best pitcher’s of the season while playing for the Bravehearts. Devito has started five games and leads the league in ERA at 1.17 while compiling a 2-0 record with 35 strikeouts over 30.2 innings pitched. Zach Martin (Notre Dame), currently leads the league in strikeouts with 41 on the season, with a 3-2 record and a 1.70 ERA for the first place Brockton Rox.
This week, the FCBL will be hosting a series of baseball games throughout Massachusetts between the United States and Japanese collegiate baseball teams. The games will run from July 11-15 and be played in Worcester, Brockton and Lowell. The teams will stay at Worcester State University during their team in Massachusetts. The league all-star game will take place July 18 in Bristol, Connecticut.
New England Collegiate Baseball League
Well into the second half of the season, playoff races are in full swing as team’s charge towards August. With only the top three team’s in each division making the postseason, each game as the season winds down will become crucial. In the Northern Division, the Valley Blue Sox currently comfortably in second place, with a 15-8 record on the season and only 0.5 games behind first place. Their Western Massachusetts counterparts, the North Adams SteepleCats are 11-14 on the season and only 0.5 games out of third place, putting them in great position to make a run at the playoffs. In the Southern Division, the Plymouth Pilgrims (12-12) and New Bedford Bay Sox (10-14) find themselves on the outside looking in, currently 1 and 3 games behind third place, respectively.
Blake Whitney (South Carolina Upstate) has been an absolutely dominant for North Adams. Despite being 1-3 on the season, Whitney leads the league in strikeouts with 62, while the next closest pitcher has 31. Whitney has a 2.18 ERA in 37 innings pitched over 6 starts for the SteepleCats. His teammate, Robert Donnelly (SUNY Oswego) is tied for the league in wins, with a 4-2 record. Bay Sox outfielder/first baseman Luke Bakula (Kansas) is still near the top of the league’s batting average leaders with a .367 average through 23 games. His teammate, Dan Schock (Sacred Heart) is currently tied for 2nd in the NECBL with 20 RBI through 23 games.
North Adams will be hosted the 2017 NECBL All-Star Game, which will take place on July 30. It will feature a day full of festivities with includes an MLB Talent Showcase and a Home Run Derby leading up to the game. The game will be held at Joe Wolfe Field, where the record attendance for a game is 6,714, so be sure to purchase tickets as soon as possible.