With the calendar flipping to 2018, all eyes are on the upcoming baseball season. Despite the bitter cold in the beginning part of the season, it was another enjoyable season in 2017. We will go through some of the major story lines to watch in 2018…
Who is MLB Draft worthy?
Despite several players garnering interest late into the season, the only high school Long Island players that got drafted were Ben Brown and Brian Morrell. This was surprising to me considering some other players getting looks from Major League scouts. We will cover this topic more in depth in the next week or so, but I’ll give you four players that have my attention–Franklin Parra, Anthony Fontana, Logan O’Hoppe and Mark Faello.
Next year will be interesting with Tim McHugh, Jason Diaz and Max Nielsen already making their cases.
Can Wantagh pull off a three-peat ?
The Warriors were led by a tremendous group of upperclassmen the past two seasons. When Will O’Brien and Bobby Hegarty graduated after the 2016 season, Jimmy Joyce and Brendan Haas stepped up and filled those roles. Now, they will have to replace the impact of Joyce and Trevor Fagan, who were stalwarts on both of the Long Island champion teams. The Warriors are far from a team in “rebuilding mode”. They are returning two of the top players on Long Island in Anthony D’Onofrio and Anthony Fontana. Both will hit in the top of the order and will be expected to generate runs offensively and prevent runs. D’Onofrio is an outstanding defensive SS which great range and a missile for an arm. Fontana saves his infielders plenty of errors at first base. They have three catchers that are worthy of a starting position. They are all seniors, that have gotten limited experience due to the presence of Fagan the past two years.The pitching staff will be led by Fontana and Molloy-commit Pat Willix. They have a potential diamond-in-the-rough in southpaw Paul Adragna and another in Matt Reich. They will have the target on their back again, but they have are ready to roll.
Can Levittown Return to the Promise Land?
From the years 2005-2015, at least one Levittown team had qualified for the Nassau County finals. In the past two years, MacArthur, Division and Island Trees all failed to do so. The town has an incredible tradition of winning baseball in large part to the massive numbers in their Little League programs and very good coaching at the varsity levels. All teams are hungry to return, but are losing some talented players from their 2017 class.
How does Kellenberg follow up on a season with a historically dominant pitching staff? Who can stop them?
With the graduation of Chris Cappas and Andrew Williams, it will be hard but they have Jason Diaz who should at least contend for the Player of the Year. As per usual, there is very little room for error in the CHSAA. St. Anthony’s, St. John the Baptist, St. Dominic, Chaminade and Holy Trinity are all ready to compete for the title in 2018. St. John the Baptist held them to one run in the finals last year, and they are hungry to get over that hump.
Who’s the favorite for the Yaz Award?
Some players will be breathing a sigh of relief with the graduation of Brian Morrell, who joined Ron Witmeyer of East Islip as the only player to have won the award two times. In Suffolk Class AA, I think if anyone pitches to Tim McHugh, he’s the favorite. I had the chance to see him recently, and he certainly appears to have put on strength. A tireless worker with an absurdly muscular build for a junior in high school, McHugh is an impressive sight. In Fort Myers, he put on an example of why he’s committed to TCU. Someone will have to protect him in the lineup. With Matt Hogan appearing to be 100 percent healthy, he also has a chance to be that guy. He played through injury last year, but the Vanderbilt-commit still is the type of player that instills fear in the opposing pitcher. After a freshman year with 10 HRs, Brock Murtha certainly has put his name in the conversation. He is also a lights-out pitcher. Another player I am really impressed with is Kyle Johnson. The Stony Brook-commit is another diligent worker and has taken that jump in velocity on the mound and the pop in his bat that could result in some scary numbers.
Who’s a potential sleeper that can make a deep run in Suffolk County?
We mentioned this on a podcast back in October, but I really think Newfield can surprise a lot of people in Suffolk Class AA with that pitching staff. I really like Smithtown East as well, but I wouldn’t classify them as a sleeper considering they have been one of the four best teams in Suffolk since 2015. In Class A, I think Rocky Point is the team that can dethrone Shoreham-Wading River, but also keep an eye on Hauppauge who is now back in Class A.