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Q & A With Nassau County Reporter Mike Connors

Q & A With Nassau County Reporter Mike Connors

We had some difficult with the audio in the podcast, so here is a transcript of the audio between Vinny Messana and Nassau reporter Mike Connors.

You’ll be releasing your Top-15 players in Nassau County this week, when is that coming out?

I’m shooting for Saturday or Sunday this week, but first I will be beginning our third Face of Nassau challenge. It’s a great way to start of the new year.

Max Effort Training

Yep, people want their baseball information–

That’s what it’s all about.

So let’s talk about some of the top guys. Our list won’t be released until March, but there’s a couple of guys that are no secret in terms of being the top player. Let’s talk first about Wantagh’s Anthony Fontana. What can you tell us about him?

Not only does he have an athletic figure but his swing is beautiful and defensively he makes all the plays. He’s going to be a three-year starter. They’re going to be counting on him and Anthony D’Onofrio, who is also a three-year player. They know what it takes to win big games. They won back-to-back Long Island Championships.

You can’t put a value on that. Let’s talk about another kid, Johnny Castagnozzi. He put himself on the map last year as freshman, helping Massapequa win the Long Island Championship and then committing to UNC in the fall. What can you tell me about him?

He was the buzz going around Long Island. Everyone likes Castagnozzi. As a freshman, he really stood out to me on that team as the starting third baseman. That’s hard to do as a freshman. When you have a guy with his talent, it’s hard to pitch to him and pitchers try to pitch around him.

And he has another three years to go.

Yep, by the time he gets to college he’ll be ready to go.

Who are you looking at as a potential sleeper pick this year?

As far as sleeper picks, there’s one team in mind that stands out in Class A and that’s the North Shore Vikings. With virtually an entire team of underclassmen last year in 2017, they still managed to finish 2nd in their conference and enter the postseason as the No.10 seed. They will definitely be a team to look out for as almost every starter on their team will have varsity experience. They also have one of the best players in the county in Anthony Carleo. The Lackawanna-commit can play anywhere on the diamond and is a middle of the lineup threat to any pitcher that faces him. His power was displayed in a video tweeted by Axcess last season where he launched a home run to left center that was hit close to 400 feet. In Class AA the team that may sneak up on everyone is Freeport. Although they had a season to forget in 2017 they have a ton of talent in this upcoming year and their lineup poses a threat to any pitcher they face. Their stud catcher Anthony Lamar has Division-I talent and is arguably the best catcher in the county. He’ll be the centerpiece of this sneakily talented Freeport team.

Another player to talk about is Mark Faello. I know you watched him play last year, you covered a game when he pitched. He can also hold his own with the bat–he’s going to Hofstra. It’s unclear whether he will be a two-way player, but at least for one more year we will see him take swings. What did you notice from Mark?

I had the privilege to watch Mark three times–twice in the County Championship and once against Calhoun. In the game against Calhoun, he came in during the 7th inning and wound up saving the one-run game. The one at bat that they pitched to him he got a fastball right at his chest and he put it out to left field. That’s just the kind of player he is. He is the star of that Plainview team and he’s also going to have Tyler Marinaccio behind him in the rotation. They’re going to be a tough team to beat.

Who are you looking at that could possibly give Massapequa run for their money?

In Class AA, I look at Calhoun. They are looking sharp this year. I know they have Jack Pugliano coming back, Jake Edwards–two of the top players on that team.

Another team I’m watching for in Class AA is Oceanside. They made noise last year and I think they’re dangerous.

Oh, absolutely. They have the big three–as I like to say with Matt Carey, Dylan Judd and Brendan McFall. That team is definitely a team to watch.

Don’t forget St. John’s-commit Jake Lazzaro. The sweet-swinging lefty lengthens their lineup and should make them a competitor for the Class AA County Championship.

Absolutely they will be right there.

Let’s talk about the run of Plainedge, they had that amazing run of 12 straight games where it seemed like they were on their way to the county championship. Talk a little about how they got so hot at the right time.

In 2016, they were expected to be great. They had a lot of talent on the roster but they didn’t have the success. Then in 2017, they had the insane win streak and fell just short in the playoffs. Going into 2018, they have a ton of big names on the team. They have shortstop Jason Bottari–committed to Albany. They have Nick Demicco, committed to Molloy and they have young-and-rising star Sean Mendyk. He’s a 6’2-6’3 LHP, huge arm, throws in the mid 80s, he’s topped out at 86 MPH, so you’re going to be looking at him in the future. Brian Bornkamp is an outfielder that was on their team last season that’s an impact player.

Now another game you covered was the famous Division-MacArthur game with Bobby Lewis and Brandon O’Brien on the mound. Take us back to that moment.

Well, the “Battle of Levittown”…you went there and couldn’t find a place to sit. Luckily I got to sit behind home plate, but you look up in the crowd and everyone has their Division/MacArthur gear on. That’s a great thing to see. You see Brandon O’Brien and bobby Lewis–two of the top pitchers in the county going at it. The whole entire game was electric from the ceremonial first pitch by the superintendent  of both schools. It was the first time that match up happened in almost 20 years.

Well, that’s all the time that we have for today. Thank you for your time and make sure you follow him all year covering Nassau County baseball! 

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Vinny is the Editor-In-Chief of aXcess Baseball. He is a 2013 graduate of Adelphi University. He previously worked for Bleacher Report and Baseball Info Solutions.

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