03/19/2018 8:16 PM
College Baseball Report
By Joshua Kummins
The North Shore Navigators are less than 90 days away from kicking off their 2018 season in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, but members of this coming summer’s team and dozens of former players ― more than 80 in total ― are now in the midst of or gearing up for their collegiate seasons.
Before the first pitch of summer is thrown May 31 down on Martha’s Vineyard and baseball returns to Lynn’s Fraser Field two days later, we will check in on the progress of present and past players throughout the spring in the Navigators College Baseball Report.
Without further ado, our first installment of the season focuses on players competing at the NCAA Division 1 level:
UMass Lowell outfielder Jeff Mejia and pitcher Matt O’Connor are the lone players due back to the Navs for a second consecutive summer. Mejia joined last year’s club after graduating from North Reading High School and has made two starts in six games, scoring a run, while O’Connor made his sophomore season debut with a scoreless inning on March 13 at Gardner-Webb.
A freshman at Lowell, Henry Funaro (2017) tossed five no-hit innings in his Feb. 17 debut against Morehead State, his first of three starts and five appearances thus far. Sophomore outfielder Ted Leathersich (2017) logged hits in four of the five games in which he has started. An All-America East and NECBL All-Star outfielder last summer, Colby Maiola (2016) has a .348 average and 14 RBI in his first 16 games of the spring, including a two-homer effort on March 10 at VMI.
The 2018 roster includes two Northeastern freshmen in rookie pitcher Danny Ryan and outfielder Corey DiLoreto. A Rockport native, Ryan made a career-long memory in his first (unofficial) college appearance, striking out two batters in a scoreless inning of work during the Huskies’ Feb. 22 exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla.
Joining the Navs from Wofford are pitcher Scottie Wallace and outfielder Michael Wynne, who are also rookies. They call catcher Alec Cargin (2017) and Mack Nathanson (2016) their teammates with the Terriers. Nathanson entered this week ranked 47th in the nation with a .413 average, six home runs, and 26 RBI through 20 games, while Cargin blasted a homer and scored twice in his March 10 season debut against Marist. Wallace made his collegiate debut Feb. 21 against UNC Asheville.
Florida A&M’s Deven Shulstad and Austin Peay’s Devin O’Donovan have both seen work on the mound early in their collegiate careers. Shulstad has recorded six strikeouts in 9.2 innings of two-run ball and is tied for the Division 1 national lead in appearances, having been called from the bullpen in 14 of his team’s 24 games. O’Donovan fanned 10 batters in his first 11 innings of work, including his first collegiate win on March 18 against Murray State.
Three players with Navs connections are on the Holy Cross roster, including pitching newcomers Garret Keough and Ethan Dyer. Keough has recorded 12 strikeouts in 10.1 innings as a freshman, while Dyer returns from last season’s Patriot League championship squad as a sophomore. Their teammate is outfielder Austin Masel, who was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year before hitting .344 in 18 games for the Navs last summer. Masel is hitting .346 with 11 RBI through 13 games and has hit a team-high four homers.
Anthony DeSouza and 2015 alum Taso Stathopoulos are members of Rhode Island’s pitching staff, while three-year veteran catcher Keith Linnane (2015-17) and infielder Daane Berezo (2017) are rounding out their careers at Atlantic-10 foes UMass and VCU, respectively. Stathopoulos tossed seven scoreless innings against No. 1 Florida on March 10 and has a minuscule 0.54 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 16.2 frames on the year. Berezo hit .304 with five doubles and nine RBI in 21 games.
Five players who will be freshmen in the fall round out this season’s Division 1 crop. Lexington infielder Sal Frelick and pitcher/first baseman Travis Lane are bound for Boston College. Central Catholic standout pitcher Steve Hajjar and catcher Dominic Keegan will play their college ball at Michigan and Vanderbilt, respectively. Rounding out the group is Peabody native infielder Jake Gustin, who is a Bryant prospect.
Lane’s brother, Thomas, and left-hander Dan Metzdorf were both Navigators as high school seniors in 2015 and in the midst of their junior seasons with BC. The elder Lane sports a 4.20 ERA for the spring and has recorded 11 strikeouts over his first 15 innings of work, while Metzdorf threw five innings of one-run ball March 17 at nationally-ranked Virginia.
BC’s Austin Batchelor (2015, 2017) and Dartmouth ace Cole O’Connor (2015-16) were also young members of that summer’s staff and spent at least part of another year with the club. Joining O’Connor on the Big Green is last summer’s FCBL Pitcher of the Year, Austen Michel. O’Connor tossed a career-high 10 strikeouts over seven innings in a March 3 victory against Villanova and has a 2.70 ERA after 20 innings, while Michel threw four innings of one-run ball before making his first start of the season March 14 at UC Santa Barbara.
Jordan Roper (2016) and All-Star first baseman Tyler Kapuscinski (2017) both play for Marist, which won the MAAC last spring. A transfer from Northern Essex Community College, Roper hit .306 with three doubles, a home run, six runs scored, and five RBI through his first 10 outings.
Other alumni at the Division 1 level include South Florida’s Richie Cruz and Appalachian State’s Beau Myers, who both played for North Shore in 2016. Cruz has fanned 12 batters over seven relief appearances and 9.1 innings of two-run ball, good for a 0.96 ERA on the season. Myers posted all four of hits during a three-game hitting streak to end February and begin March.