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Orleans Firebirds 2022 Cape Cod League Preview



Orleans is led by Kelly Nicholson, who is in his 18th year as the Firebirds manager. Nicholson is one of the longest-tenured managers in the Cape Cod League and has deep connections on the West Coast, leading to a heavier concentration of players from the Pac-12 Conference than other Cape rosters. The 2022 Firebirds once again have a West Coast tinge with a star-studded infield that will feature UCLA’s Cody Schrier, San Diego’s Kevin Sim, Grand Canyon’s Jack Wilson and former San Francisco standout Luke Keaschell. The outfield group is deep as well, led by Boston College standout Travis Honeyman, San Diego’s Kyle Carr and Louisville’s Isaac Humphrey. 

The pitching staff is led by Vanderbilt swiss-army knife Patrick Reilly, who was a standout in his two starts with Orleans last summer. Mississippi’s Hunter Elliott, Ohio State’s Wyatt Loncar, Duke’s Josh Allen and Elon’s Cam Jones join Reilly in making it a deep and talented group. Orleans has been a bit of a pitching factory in recent seasons with Joe Ryan, Jared Shuster, Cole Wilcox, Logan Gilbert and Daniel Lynch pitching for the team. Few have done a better job of increasing their pitchers’ profiles like Nicholson and Orleans have over the last decade.

Home Park: Eldredge Park (Built 1913): Few parks in the Cape Cod League are as vibrant as Eldredge Park on game night. Fans pack the hillside along the first base line hours before first pitch. The park opened in 1913 just one year after Boston’s iconic Fenway Park. Eldredge is known for its unusual dimensions—it’s 434 feet to center field but just 315 feet down the line to right and left.

Manager: Kelly Nicholson

Last Cape Cod League Championship: 2005

Hitters To Know

Cody Schrier, SS, UCLA: A highly sought-after prep player, Schrier hit .292/.377/.486 with nine home runs and 11 steals for the Bruins as a freshman. He comes to the Cape as one of the top players in the 2024 draft class.

Travis Honeyman, OF, Boston College: After a standout showing for Ocean State in the New England Collegiate League last summer, Honeyman carried the momentum into the spring with Boston College. The sophomore hit .329/.402/.506 over 41 games for the Eagles and elevated himself into one of the top players in the 2023 draft class. He boasts some of the best exit velocities of any hitter coming to the Cape this summer.

Luke Keaschall, SS, San Francisco (Transfer Portal): Keaschall was a late arrival for the Firebirds last summer and hit .321/.356/.464 over 20 games. The infielder followed that up with a strong spring for the Dons, hitting .305/.445/.502 over 57 games before entering the transfer portal after the season.

Delucia Dylan Courtesy Of Ole Miss

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Pitchers To Know

Patrick Reilly, RHP, Vanderbilt: One of the best underclassmen on the Cape last summer, Reilly tossed 10 consecutive scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts over two starts against Harwich and Brewster, two of the league’s best lineups. He is one of the top pitchers in the 2023 draft class and could see time with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team.

Hunter Elliott, LHP, Mississippi: The lefthander was a top draft prospect out of high school but ended up reaching campus at Ole Miss. He made 16 appearances (eight starts) for the Rebels as a freshman this spring and had a 3.29 ERA and 74 strikeouts and 25 walks over 54.2 innings. Elliott’s four-seam fastball sits 89-91 mph with heavy bore, and he pairs his fastball with an above-average changeup that generates swings and misses, a sweepy slider in the high 70s and a low-70s curveball with two-plane break.

Ryan Rissas, LHP, UC San Diego: A reliable reliever for the Tritons in 2022, Rissas should join Orleans at some point during the first few weeks of the season. He was a strong performer this spring with a 3.68 ERA and 30 strikeouts against just eight walks in 22 innings. While Rissas doesn’t light up a radar gun, his north-south plan of attack allows him to change eye levels effectively and keep hitters off-balance.

Sleeper

Xavier Meachem, RHP, North Carolina A&T: One of the most exciting under-the-radar pitchers on a Cape roster this year, Meachem combines big velocity with high spin rates as well as anyone in the 2023 draft class. His four-seam fastball sits 93-95 mph and touches the upper 90s with heavy ride and spin rates north of 2,500 rpm. He pairs his high-octane heater with a sweepy slider in the 82-84 mph range and a low-80s curveball with two-plane break and more depth than his slider. It’s a loud pitch mix, but one that lacked refinement at North Carolina A&T. Meachem is one of the younger draft-eligible pitchers in the class with an early September birthday.

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