BOSTON—Pitching has dominated the Cape Cod League for decades, so it wasn't exactly big news that power arms were the big story of the league's all-star game Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
The dozens of scouts and 10,470 fans on hand were treated to stellar pitching from both sides in the West's 5-0 win against the East. Nine West pitchers worked an inning apiece in a combined six-hit shutout. The West rolled out one flame-thrower after another, starting with Cotuit righthander Austin Wood (St. Petersburg, Fla., JC) and finishing with Bourne righty Tony Zych (Louisville). Wood worked in the 93-96 mph range in his scoreless inning, but Zych out-did him, sitting at 95-97 and mixing in a nasty hard slider.
"The kid at the end was throwing 97 miles an hour, and the guys were coming back to the dugout—that's tough to catch up with, when you're throwing 97," said East manager Scott Pickler (Yarmouth-Dennis). "These guys have seen 92, 93 all year long, but when you get a 97, that's pretty tough. And those guys know how many scouts are behind them, and they're going out there and the sliders they had to hit . . . it's tough on hitters. All-star games are tough on hitters.
"When you ask these guys to go out there and perform in this atmosphere, they know they only have to get three outs, they know there's nothing else on the line, they can cut it loose." [...] Continue Reading »
BOSTON—There can be no doubt. Paul Hoilman is college baseball's home run king.
"If you want to write it that way, you can," Hoilman said. "I'll take it."
The hulking East Tennessee State slugger finished his junior year with 25 home runs—two shy of national leader Jordan Ribera of Fresno State.
Hoilman has since gotten the better of Ribera in two televised home run derbies—first at Rosenblatt Stadium on July 7, then again at Fenway Park in the home run hitting contest before the Cape Cod League all-star game. He also beat Pacific-10 Conference home run champ Ricky Oropesa in both contests.
Hoilman hit two home runs over Fenway Park's Green Monster in the first round to advance to the championship round against Oropesa (two homers in first round) and Coastal Carolina's Daniel Bowman (six). Hoilman hit three homers in the championship round to take the title, edging Oropesa (two).
At Rosenblatt, Hoilman had blasted five homers in the first round and 12 in the championship round. But that was with metal bats; this contest was with wood bats.
"It was a lot tougher here than at Omaha with the metal," Hoilman said. "I'd say it's more rewarding with wood, swinging against the Cape guys . . . I'm not calling myself the defending champ or anything, but to kind of have that target—a lot of these guys were there—Ribera, Oropesa, they were in Omaha. They're great guys, we had a lot of fun there, a lot of fun here. It's a great feeling." [...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball's College National Team won the final two games of its series in Taiwan, earning a split of the four-game set and finishing its regular season with an 11-2 record.
Team USA won the final two games 9-1 and 6-3 after losing the opening pair of games 3-1 and 1-0. Team USA returns to action Friday in Japan when it plays Sri Lanka in the opening game of the FISU World University Championships, an event the U.S. has won the last three times it entered in 2004, '06 and '08. [...] Continue Reading »
Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon had successful surgery Monday on his broken right ankle, which he injured July 14 while playing for USA Baseball's college national team., which h
Rendon had a three-hour operation, according to a Rice press release, performed at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. Dr. Leland Winston and Dr. Tom Clanton performed the operation, and Dr. Clanton said it went better than expected, "since the fracture pattern and ligament injuries were less severed than they originally appeared. We expect Anthony to make a full recovery and be playing baseball for Rice next spring."
Rendon was the 2010 College Player of the Year after batting .394/.530/.801 with 26 home runs, 85 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and just five errors. He's projected as the top prospect for the 2011 draft if he proves to be healthy, though he'll have plenty of competition for the top spot from the likes of UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole and Texas Christian lefty Matt Purke.
“It is my understanding that the surgery went very well,” Rice head coach Wayne Graham said in the release. “We expect a full recovery for Anthony.”
The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee took another step toward addressing college baseball's pace of play dilemma this week, voting to mandate the use of a timing device and enforce in-game penalties for failing to meet time limits. A 20-second limit between pitches and a 90-second limit between innings will be enforced in all regular-season and postseason games in every conference. The proposal still must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel at its August meeting, but approval is very likely.
Pitchers are already required to start their delivery within 20 seconds of getting the ball back from an umpire when no runners are on base, but that rule has not been enforced until now. The rules committee's proposal will require the second- or third-base umpire to carry a clock and enforce the rule, unless conferences choose to use a visible clock and assign an "back-up umpire" to administer the rules.
If a pitcher fails to start his delivery within 20 seconds, his team will be issued one warning. A second violation will result in a ball being called automatically. If a batter is responsible for the delay, his team will get a warning, and a second violation will result in a strike. The penalties are the same for teams that do not meet the 90-second between-innings limit. The committee recommended a time limit for televised games of 108 seconds, but it acknowledged that the time between innings will continue to be a negotiable point in TV agreements.
The pace of play became a major issue after the 2009 College World Series, when the average game time was a record three hours, 38 minutes. This year that average dropped to three hours, 23 minutes, and the average for nine-inning games was three hours, 18 minutes.
The Southeastern Conference experimented with a 20-second pitch clock (displayed beyond the outfield fence and behind the batter) and a 108-second between-innings clock at its conference tournament this year, and the results were striking. The average nine-inning game at the SEC tournament was two hours, 43 minutes—26 minutes shorter than the average nine-inning SEC tournament game in 2009, and 13 minutes shorter than the average regular-season game in 2010. [...] Continue Reading »
Wilmington Sharks righthander Zach Taylor (Evansville) threw the first perfect game in the 14-year history of the Coastal Plain League on Thursday, in a 13-0 win against Fayetteville.
The rising senior needed just 117 pitches to complete the nine-inning perfect game, inducing 13 groundball outs, 10 flyouts and striking out four. His defense helped him complete the perfect game with a nice back-handed play at shortstop in the fourth inning, and a nice catch in deep left-center in the fifth inning.
"You just have to stay focused and realize you can only take care of what you can take care of," Taylor told the Wilmington Star News. "You have to let the at-bats go and just focus when you get out there."
Taylor has worked mostly in relief during his career at Evansville—he has made just 16 starts in 70 career appearances over three years. He has made nine appearances this summer, including four starts, and is 3-1, 1.82 with 22 strikeouts and five walks in 35 innings. The Aces said Taylor improved his strength and conditioning in the offseason; he now works in the upper 80s with his fastball and mixes in a very good slider.
The perfect game was even more special for Taylor because his family was in town from Fort Wayne to see him pitch. They were among the Thirsty Thursday crowd of 2,756 fans who got to witness CPL history.
Two of the top college summer leagues—the Northwoods and Coastal Plain—played their all-star games Tuesday night in front of sizable scouting contingents in Eau Claire, Wis., and Forest City, N.C., respectively.
Duluth third baseman Cody Asche (Nebraska) earned MVP honors of the NWL all-star game, going 2-for-4 with a two-run homer to lead the North to a 7-5 win over the South. Asche, who broke his hamate bone after just 10 games in Duluth last year, is having a fine summer, hitting .318 with seven homers and 45 RBIs. His summer comes on the heels of his breakout sophomore season for the Cornhuskers, when he hit .311 with 10 homers and 58 RBIs. Asche has developed into a nice lefthanded power hitter and an improved defender at third base, and his prospect stock is on the rise.
The South got two hits—including an RBI double—from Madison first baseman Harold Riggins (North Carolina State), who is tearing up the NWL for the second straight summer. After hitting .308 with nine homers in 214 at-bats last year for the Mallards, Riggins is hitting .366 with seven homers and 23 RBIs through 112 at-bats this year.
"He's definitely a physical specimen," said an American League scout who was on hand. "He's a guy to take a close look at next year." [...] Continue Reading »
Air Force has sent a strong message this offseason that it is serious about turning its struggling baseball program around. First the Falcons hired the well-respected Maj. Mike Kazlausky (who came with glowing recommendations from Louisiana State coach Paul Mainieri and USA Baseball general manager of national teams Eric Campbell) to take over as head coach. Then they hired Toby Bicknell away from Davidson to serve as hitting coach. On Tuesday, Air Force announced it has hired Tim Dixon away from Southern Illinois to be its pitching coach.
Dixon has an excellent reputation in the Midwest and has coached seven draft picks in his four years at SIU, including 2008 second-rounder Cody Adams. Before arriving at SIU he spent two years at Feather River (Calif.) JC and two at Pacific.
“To be a part of what the Air Force Academy represents is truly an honor and privilege,” Dixon said in a release. “Alongside everyone involved with Falcon baseball, I look forward to raising the expectations of the program to the standards of what the Air Force Academy and the Air Force represents.”
Some other coaching news and rumblings: [...] Continue Reading »
It's all-star week in several prominent summer college leagues. The Northwoods and Coastal Plain leagues will play their all-star games on Tuesday, and the New England Collegiate League kicked off the week with its all-star game Sunday in beautiful Newport, R.I.
The East team beat the West team, 10-0, as nine East pitchers comibned on a one-hit shutout. East starter Mark Appel (Stanford) was the most impressive player in the game, according to a couple of scouts who were on hand. In his scoreless first inning, the rising sophomore righthander sat at 92-93 mph and threw an 81 mph slider with short downward break and a 78-81 changeup with good arm speed and some tumble.
"He's the guy who stood out to me the most—he's pretty good," a scout with an American League club said. "He's got some down action to his fastball and gets a lot of ground balls."
Appel's teammate at Stanford and Newport, shortstop Kenny Diekroeger, also had a strong showing, going 2-for-3 for the East. [...] Continue Reading »
Boston College announced Monday that it has hired Mike Gambino as its new head coach.
Since 2006, Gambino has served as an assistant at Virginia Tech under former BC coach Pete Hughes. He also served as a volunteer under Hughes at BC from 2003-'05, and he played infield for the Eagles from 1995-2000. In the last decade, he also has spent two stints in professional ball, working in scouting and player development for the Red Sox and in scouting for the Tigers. The 32-year-old Gambino has proven his recruiting mettle at Virginia Tech, where he served as the recruiting coordinator and played a key role in building the Hokies' first regional team in a decade this spring.
“We are very excited to bring back Mike Gambino as our new head coach,” BC athletics director Gene DeFilippo said in a release. “As a former player and assistant coach here, Mike has the experience and passion to bring the baseball program to the next level. He has already hit the ground running.”
Gambino emerged as the front-runner immediately after the BC job became vacant when Mik Aoki left for Notre Dame. The Eagles also interviewed Wright State coach Rob Cooper, former Miami recruiting coordinator Gino DiMare and current BC assistant Steve Englert (who is not going with Aoki to Notre Dame and would seem to be a candidate to join Gambino's staff at BC).
Aoki told BA on Monday that BC made the right hire to replace him.
"I'm thrilled for that hire—I think it's perfect," Aoki said. "BC is one of those places that represents some different challenges, and Mike being an alum, Mike having coached there, I think he's really familiar with those challenges. I think Mike will do a great job; he's highly organized, he has a huge motor in him to go and do it. BC's a place you need that, you need a big motor, you need to have a passion for the place. That kid absolutely bleeds maroon and gold, and I think that he will represent the same types of values that served both Pete and me well there. I'm excited for Mike, I'm excited for BC, and I know there's probably going to be a little trepidation on the part of our players and some of the incoming kids that are there. But I think he's the perfect guy at the perfect time, and I'm really thrilled that he was the guy that they chose."
• Elsewhere, we reported on Twitter on Friday that Texas Christian was set to hire Missouri recruiting coordinator Tony Vitello to replace Todd Whitting (who left to become head coach at Houston). [...] Continue Reading »
The Brewster Whitecaps have the best record in the Cape Cod League (19-8) thanks to a roster loaded with talent—and character.
"Every team out here's an all-star team, but the chemistry and camaraderie these guys created real fast led to our success at this point," said Brewster coach Tom Myers, the associate head coach and pitching coach at UC Santa Barbara. "These guys are taking it seriously, and that's why I'm enjoying it so much. They're playing to win. Some guys come up here and just want to showcase their talents for scouts. These guys know there are scouts there, but they want to win."
I asked Myers to break down a number of players on his team that are having big summers or emerging as sleeper prospects. Here are his thoughts:
On Long Beach State righthander Andrew Gagnon (4-0, 1.69, 35-10 K-BB in 27 IP): "Andrew Gagnon is one to watch for next year: loose arm, 89-92, pretty good feel for a changeup, his slider's in development. He pitches to both sides of the plate and he comes at guys. I think he was the Friday night guy this past year at Long Beach, and I foresee him being really good this year." [...] Continue Reading »
Baseball America has confirmed reports that South Carolina pitching coach Mark Calvi has been hired as the head coach-in-waiting at South Alabama. Calvi will join Steve Kittrell's staff as an assistant until Kittrell retires at the end of the 2011 season.
Calvi has spent the last six seasons at South Carolina, and his staff carried the Gamecocks to their first national championship this spring. He handled South Carolina's pitchers masterfully in 2010, developing one of the nation's best bullpens and shepherding the staff through the losers' bracket in the College World Series. Gamecocks head coach Ray Tanner credited Calvi repeatedly in Omaha for helping him make the right decisions on who to start and how to use the bullpen.
Before coming to South Carolina, Calvi spent 11 years at Florida International, making seven trips to regionals during that span. His FIU staffs finished in the nation's top 10 in ERA five times.
Calvi beat out a deep group of applicants, including former Tennessee coach Rod Delmonico and Chipola (Fla.) JC coach Jeff Johnson. According to The (Columbia, S.C.) State, other candidates included Mike Goff (manager of the Giants' Rookie-level Arizona League team), Virginia pitching coach Karl Kuhn, Southeastern Louisiana head coach Jay Artigues, Florida State assistant Mike Martin Jr. and two current members of the South Alabama staff.
Bryant announced Thursday that it has hired Steve Owens as its new head baseball coach. Owens has led Le Moyne to 11 straight winning seasons, and he has coached 27 players who went on to play professionally in 19 years as a head coach at Le Moyne and Division III power Cortland (N.Y.) State.
A two-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conferenc coach of the year, Owens is one of the most respected coaches in the Northeast, and he is a fantastic hire for the Bulldogs. He replaces 2010 Northeast Conference coach of the year Jamie Pinzino, who was forced to resign last month in the wake of an alcohol-related arrest.
“I would like to thank Bryant University for the opportunity to be its next head baseball coach,” Owens said in a release. “It is very clear to me that the leadership and plan for excellence at Bryant University matches both the immediate and long-term goals that I have for the baseball program. I very much look forward to meeting and working with my players. In addition, I am excited to establish relationships with my colleagues and integrate my family into both the campus and community.” [...] Continue Reading »
CARY, N.C.—Three Team USA pitchers threw a combined no-hitter in a 3-0 win against Korea on Wednesday at the USA Baseball National Training Center, but the mood on the field after the game was somber. That's because Team USA lost its biggest star, BA's College Player of the Year Anthony Rendon, to a severe ankle injury.
Rendon, a rising junior third baseman for Rice, singled in the first inning but was caught in a rundown between first and second base after a pickoff throw. He attempted to cut back toward first base to avoid a tag, and his right leg appeared to get caught underneath him. He winced, then rolled onto his chest and pounded the ground a few times with his right hand.
Team USA first-base coach Ed Blankmeyer, the first person to reach Rendon, said after the game that Rendon's foot was bent at an unnatural angle, and it was apparent immediately that the injury was serious. He was carted off the field and taken by ambulance to a local hospital for X-rays. UPDATE: Team USA officially announced this afternoon that Rendon has a fracture-dislocation of his right ankle and will miss the rest of the summer. He will return to Houston on Friday. [...] Continue Reading »
Coppin State named Sherman Reed its new head coach on Tuesday. Reed, who was an assistant at Coppin in 2008 under Harvey Lee and in 2009 under Mike Scolinos, replaces Scolinos, who left the program in June to pursue other opportunities.
“This is like coming home for me,” Reed in a release. “I was raised in west Baltimore, I went to public schools here and I have family members that graduated from Coppin State.
“I recognize that there are only 301 Division I coaching jobs and am very honored that Mr. Ramsey believes than I am the right person to turn the program around.”
Reed played collegiately at Towson from 1979-83 under former Orioles and Rangers coach Billy Hunter. He then spent 10 seasons playing independent baseball prior to beginning his coaching career. [...] Continue Reading »
College of Southern Nevada standout Bryce Harper became just the second junior-college player to win the Golden Spikes Award on Tuesday. USA Baseball's 33rd annual Golden Spikes Award was presented at the MLB All-Star FanFest in Anaheim.
The No. 1 overall pick by the Nationals in the 2010 draft, Harper exceeded all expectations during his freshman season at Southern Nevada, belting 31 home runs (a CSN single-season record), with 98 RBIs and a .443 average—in a wood bat league. The Las Vegas native was named 2010 Scenic West Athletic Conference (SWAC) Player of the Year. The prodigy did it all despite playing against much older competition, as he earned his GED and enrolled at CSN two years early.
Harper beat out fellow finalists Chris Duffy (Central Florida), Yasmani Grandal (Miami), Drew Pomeranz (Mississippi) and Chris Sale (Florida Gulf Coast). [...] Continue Reading »
Notre Dame officially announced Monday that it has hired Mik Aoki away from Boston College to be its new head coach. Aoki spent the last four years as the head coach at BC, leading the Eagles to regionals in 2009 for the first time since 1967. Before that he served as an assistant under BC coach Pete Hughes. He also spent five years as the head coach at Columbia, and four years as an assistant at Dartmouth, so his familiarity with high academic standards and cold-weather schools goes back even farther than his BC days. It's a great hire for the Irish.
Aoki also has plenty of passion for the Notre Dame job, which he called a "once in a lifetime opportunity" in his introductory press conference.
"Arguably, Notre Dame is the biggest brand name is college athletics, and one of the best academic institutions in the country, and I feel that that model is one that can help us get back to Omaha," Aoki said. "I don't think that the academic requirements are something that prevents us at having success at a very high level. In fact, I think it's something that attracts kids and will help us get back to that level.
"You have an opportunity to get an education from one of the best universities in the world; an opportunity to play in what I think is a very underrated baseball conference; and you have an opportunity to win championships in that baseball conference, which means that that gives you the opportunity to go compete for national championships. And if you can't sell that to a kid, then you need to be in a different line of work."
Here's today's batch of coaching news and rumblings:
• Loyola Marymount officially announced Monday that it has hired Ted Silva as its new pitching coach. Silva, who spent the last three years as the pitching coach at UC Irvine, played with LMU head coach Jason Gill at Cal State Fullerton in 1994 and served with Gill on the Titans' coaching staff in 2005-06. Silva is one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the West, and he is a terrific hire for Gill, who is entering his third year as the Lions' head coach. LMU has also hired a well-respected hitting coach with Fullerton ties in Bryant Ward, who moved back to the West Coast after a stint at South Florida. That hire is expected to be officially announced later this week. Gill certainly made a splash with his coaching staff overhaul.
• Ward, by the way, was replaced at USF by former Bulls standout Chris Heintz, who spent the last two seasons coaching and managing in the Twins organization. South Florida is still seeking a pitching coach to replace Lazer Collazo, who resigned last month to spend more time with his family. Candidates include Division II Tampa pitching coach Sam Militello (the D-II player of the year while playing for current USF coach Lelo Prado at Tampa in 1990); former Houston coach Rayner Noble (who knows Prado from their days in Conference USA from 1997-2005, when Prado was at Louisville); and former big leaguer Alan Mills (a Lakeland, Fla., resident with coaching experience in the Tigers system).
• Georgia State announced today it has hired Jason Arnold as its pitching coach. Arnold, who started his coaching career at Bethune-Cookman and spent the last two seasons there on Mervyl Melendez's staff, played at Central Florida from 1998-2001 when current Georgia State coach Greg Frady was an assistant there. Arnold then played professionally until 2006 adn spent two years as a high school coach in Florida before joining B-CU. [...] Continue Reading »
Following a week-long trials process, USA Baseball announced the 22 members of the 2010 college national team late Sunday night, a roster that includes UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole, Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray and Clemson shortstop Brad Miller, all of whom are repeat members from the 2009 club. Baseball America College Player of the Year Anthony Rendon also earned a spot on the roster.
Utah coach Bill Kinneberg will coach the national team this summer, in a schedule that starts Monday in Gastonia, N.C., with a game against the Coastal Plain League's Gastonia Grizzlies, followed with a five-game series in North Carolina this week against Korea. The schedule also includes a one-game international friendly against Japan's college all-star team at Rosenblatt Stadium on July 21. The summer ends in Japan at the FISU World University Championships from July 30-Aug. 7, an event the U.S. has won in 2004, '06 and '08. [...] Continue Reading »
Another day, another turn of the assistant coaching carousel. New Long Beach State head coach Troy Buckley announced Friday that he is hiring Cal Poly hitting coach/recruiting coordinator to fill the same position at LBSU. Zepeda, who played in the College World Series with Oklahoma in 1995 and played four years in pro ball, has spent the last seven years at Poly.
“Jesse is a great addition to our staff,” Buckley said in a release. “His experience and knowledge of the Big West Conference and collegiate baseball on the West Coast is a tremendous asset in the recruiting and coaching arenas. He is an outstanding fit both professionally and personally, and we are excited for him and his family to join the Dirtbag family.”
On the opposite coast, Virginia Tech assistant coach Mike Gambino has emerged as the favorite to succeed Mik Aoki as the head coach at Boston College, once Notre Dame makes its hire of Aoki official this week. Gambino played for BC under former Eagles coach Pete Hughes (now his boss at Virginia Tech) from 1995-2000, then spent time playing and scouting in pro ball and serving as a volunteer assistant under Hughes at BC. In 2006 he joined Hughes' staff at Virginia Tech.
With BC assistant Joe Hastings expected to join Aoki's staff at Notre Dame, Gambino has the inside track at the head job in Chestnut Hill, but he is not a lock. Jayson King, coach of Division II power Franklin Pierce (N.H.), has entered the picture as a darkhorse candidate. In 12 years at Franklin Pierce, King has developed a reputation as one of the best coaches in the Northeast, adept at identifying and nurturing talent. If the Eagles opt to make a hire from outside the Hughes coaching tree, King is the strongest and likeliest candidate. [...] Continue Reading »
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