FEATURE STORIES

Max Effort Baseball: On the Cutting Edge of Baseball Training and Education

When it comes to being a successful hitter, there is nothing more frustrating than being geared up for a fastball only to hopelessly flail at a change up in the dirt. Believe me, as a .220 hitter as a senior in high school I can attest to this. There is no amount of hours in a batting cage that can prepare you for the challenge of off-speed pitches and tight breaking balls. Enter Senaptec and Hack Attack Pitching Machine. These revolutionary devices represent the next-wave of baseball training, something in which several Major League Baseball teams have purchased and begun to implement into their organizations. Both of these do not come cheap, however, and unless you are able to book an appointment at Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field you won’t be able to utilize their limitless potent...

Catching Up With Will O’Brien

One of the forgotten story lines of Wantagh‘s championship run in 2016 was that they were able to withstand the loss of their two-time All-State RHP Will O’Brien, who suffered an arm injury. Although Jimmy Joyce and Bobby Hegarty did just fine in his absence, the Warriors had a pitcher that had compiled other-worldly numbers over the course of a two-year stretch. 2015: 5-1 record, 0.71 ERA, 66 K (5th team All-State) 2016: 7-0 record, 1.21 ERA, 88 K (1st team All-State) He is currently at St. Thomas Aquinas. He spoke with Vinny Messana and here’s what he had to say… Describe the 2016 run by Wantagh. How difficult was it being sidelined with injury but also how proud of your teammates were you to pick up the slack? I think what made the 2016 playoff run so special was...

Q & A With Joey Grillo

(Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan) One of the story lines that slipped through the cracks in Suffolk County Class A was the terrific season by Rocky Point in 2017. They began the season 13-1 and finished with an overall record of 17-5. Their team was led by James Weisman, Joe Grillo, Brian Forbes, Rob Milopsky among others. Grillo, a University of Bridgeport-commit, will be back this year and is setting his sights set high. He batted .411 (30-for-73) with 3 HR, 20 RBI, 21 runs, .500 OBP and 1.158 OPS at the plate. On the mound, he was 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA and 35 K over 34.2 IP. He didn’t mince words when he discussed his goals for 2018 with Vinny Messana. Here’s what he had to say: Talk a little about your experience with the college recruiting process and how you decided to com...

Q & A with Joey Ricciardi

When you play for MacArthur, playoff berths are par for the course. The General are coming off a 16-win season, but they had their season cut-short by rival Division in the second round of the postseason. They will be looking to avenge that loss this season. One of the players they will be counting on is left-handed hitting senior outfielder Joey Ricciardi. He announced his commitment to play at York College of Pennsylvania a couple days ago. Prior to that, he put on an impressive performance at the charity Home Run Derby at Calhoun last month. He spoke with Vinny Messana about a variety of things, and here’s what he had to say… Talk a little bit about the college recruiting process and how you made your decision? The recruiting process was very stressful. I attended a lot of c...

Who Is Trevor Virno?

by Andres Rivas For Bellport to finish with a share of the league title for the first time in 51 years, it took a complete effort. While the pitching staff was led by three experienced starters in Sacred Heart-commit Joe Greco, Southern New Hampshire-commit Ryan Baumann and talented junior LHP Anthony Jacabacci, the team was looking for a player to step up and win the starting catching position. Enter Trevor Virno. A natural shortstop, Virno was asked to go behind the plate and corral a pitching staff that was expected to be very talented. Behind the plate he had 22 assists and threw out six runners. He finished the season with a hit in eight of his last twenty at bats (.400). Additionally, he logged some innings on the mound and compiled a 2.76 ERA over 12.2 IP. Following this season he a...

Dom Gatti: At the Forefront of Instructors Teaching New-Age Techniques

Dom Gatti pulls out an iPad and opens up a video editing program that has the swing of every prominent Major League baseball player. “Let’s look at (Jose) Altuve,” he said to me. He opens up two videos; one from his rookie season in 2011 and another from 2017. He begins drawing lines with his finger pointing out the subtle differences in the length between his feet in his batting stance, his leg kick, the angle his back leg forms at the point of contact and where Altuve’s bat is in regards to the “hitting window”. The words flow with confidence, as if Gatti has been preaching this his entire life. Gatti represents a new flock of hitting gurus that subscribe to the new theory of creating launch angle that is conducive to higher OPS and average distance. W...

Art Canestro Reflects On Professional Career, Growing Up on LI

Art Canestro was never nervous on the mound–except maybe for this time, he admitted. Pitching in the first ever game at Coors Field, there was a capacity crowd of 60,000 people despite being a Spring Training game. “I just remember looking up in the stands and being blinded by the people. It was just a wall of people. I was never nervous pitching, but that time there was definitely some butterflies,” says the current Head Coach of Calhoun HS. “I didn’t even really get to enjoy it; it was over after eight pitches. I got two pop outs and a ground out and the inning was over,” he added. That was the closest he got the big leagues, but the left-handed pitcher enjoyed a glorious high school career at Wellington C. Mepham HS. He graduated prior to the inceptio...

Up Next: Don Wille

It’s not often that you see catchers 6’3″ or taller at any level of baseball. At the Major League Level, for example, only Joe Mauer and Matt Wieters stand that tall (both 6’5″). The main reason for this is that it is difficult for them to quickly get out of the crouching position and into a throwing position as efficiently as a shorter player. Don Wille (Sachem East 2020) is not only 6’3″, but he curtails the running game as well as anyone. In fact, playing on JV last season, he threw out every runner that attempted to steal off him. I had the opportunity to watch him training with Charles Galiano this evening and it became evident pretty quickly just how much of a weapon he is behind the dish. He possesses very strong wrists for a 15-year-old tha...

Sal Agostinelli: The Story of How An Undersized Long Island Catcher Became One of the Most Influential Men in Professional Baseball

(Editor’s Note: Story was originally published on Nov. 12, 2016. We will have coverage of the Agostinelli Memorial Tournament beginning tomorrow at Baseball Heaven.) It was 1993 when Jay Hankins approached the Triple-A catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies with a question. “Hey Sal, did you ever think about being a scout?” “The only thing I know about scouting is that it’s old guys in chairs,” Sal responded. “Well, I think you would make for a good one,” he stated. As fate would have it, that catcher was Long Island native Sal Agostinelli, who went on to accept a position as the area scout for the Phillies and his area would be New York and New Jersey. As time went on and he had success in his coverage area, the front office tasked him with more and more territory. The next year was ...

Nick Schwartz Commits to St. John’s

This weekend was filled with positive experiences for many people down in the WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers. For Massapequa catcher Nick Schwartz, it was potentially life changing as he gave his verbal commitment to one of the best baseball programs in all of the nation; St. John’s University. They are coming off a 42-13 season in which they made an appearance in the NCAA Regionals. Schwartz spoke with Vinny Messana about his decision and here’s what he had to say… Talk a little about your experience with the college recruiting process and how you wound up committing to St. John’s… The college recruiting process with St. John’s started last year when I went to their mini camp for the first time. After the mini camp, the coaches became ...

Nick Herzog and Bryan Kaufman Discuss Playing in College World Series

2017 has been a year to remember for two Long Island natives, Bryan Kaufman and Nick Herzog, while playing for UMASS-Boston. They put together a great season (38-12 overall record) that culminated in an appearance in the Div-III College World Series in Appleton, WI. They were able to win one game in the CWS, but ultimately had their dreams cut short by North Central College, 5-4. Kaufman, a senior pitcher from Farmingdale HS, had a stellar season. He compiled an ERA of 1.03 over 61.1 IP with an unblemished record of 3-0 with five saves. Herzog, a junior from Riverhead HS, compiled a slash line of .291/.385/.370 over 189 AB with 40 RBI. The duo spoke to Vinny Messana and here’s what they had to say… Vinny: Can you describe the 2017 season which culminated in an appearance in the...

Jared & Derek Yalon Commit to Stony Brook

It is rare that a set of twins would both be as athletic and talented as the Yalon twins. What’s even more rare is that they both would be interested in playing college ball at the same school and the interest would be reciprocated by the school. Jared & Derek Yalon, both Connetquot 2019, announced yesterday that they verbally committed to Stony Brook University. Jared, a lefty that plays first base, was named All-County as a sophomore. Derek plays left field and bats righty. They both stated that they originally became interested in attending Stony Brook in 2012 when the Sea Wolves made an appearance on ESPN playing LSU in the Super Regionals. If there was any question how important qualifying for the College World Series is for a program, look no further than that statement as ...

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