2015 Showcase 17u Team Preview

2015 Showcase 17u Team Preview

By Kristin Huckshorn

A roster of talented 2016 graduates from three states, including three returnees who are hitting 90 mph on the mound, should make the New York Nine’s Summer U17 Showcase one of the region’s most formidable teams this summer.

The roster will feature most of the starting lineup from last year’s Futures team with top players returning from the highly competitive New York City Public Schools Athletic League and the Brunswick School in Greenwich, Ct. along with returnees from top academic schools in New Jersey and New York City.

“After a successful summer at the 16U level, we are excited to see the level of development and progression of these young men as individuals and as a group,” said Ian Millman, president of the non-profit Nine organization and head coach of the Futures team last year. “There will be plenty of opportunity for them to compete against top competition and be seen by the collegiate scouting community in different areas of the country.” said Millman, who will coach the 18U Scout team this season.

The Nine is one of the premier travel baseball programs in the Northeast with a track record of producing D1 and D3 collegiate stars and Major League prospects. This year’s Showcase team will be coached by Stan Latimer, the longtime COO of the Nine organization and the pitching coach at Fox Lane High School in Bedford, NY. He’ll be joined by James Mondesir, who had a nine-year pro career and serves as the Nine’s organizational pitching coordinator.

“The upcoming season is, as always, exciting,” said Latimer. “Working with a new group of dedicated players is a special opportunity. We’ve put together an aggressive and extremely competitive schedule that should open academic and professional doors for our players.”

The Nine’s intensive tournament schedule will put players in front of college coaches and scouts throughout June and July. Those tournaments include the World Wood Bat National Championships in LakePoint, GA, July 3-10, the Blue Chip Great American at Yaphank, NY and the Boston Invitational, a premier stage for top Northeast talent.

Leading the returnees is Perfect Game Underclass third-team All-American Ted Sabato, a 6-foot-2 rising senior from Brunswick with a clean, loose arm. Sabato played shortstop and pitched in relief last season. “Ted is an athletic RHP who has been up to 91 with a feel for a quality slider,” said Millman. “Teddy is also developing as a plus outfield defender. Offensively, he has good plate coverage with deceptive power.”

Anchoring the team with on-field versatility and leadership is veteran Connor Redahan, another Brunswick rising senior. Redahan played multiple infield positions as well as outfield and was a consistent gap hitter with surprising power. “Connor is a Dustin Pedroia-type player,” said Millman, comparing Redahan to the Red Sox’ second baseman. “Connor gives 100 percent on everything he does, plays it all out, all the time. I can't recall ever seeing him leave the field with a clean uniform.”

Redahan’s Brunswick teammates, Trevor Johnson and Ryan Popp, also return as starters. Johnson was an outfield starter last season and a plus gap defender “with all-around outstanding baseball instincts,” said Millman. “Trevor is a very athletic, late developing ballplayer with a good baseball bloodline.” Indeed, Johnson’s father Mark played for the Pirates, Angels and Mets. Johnson, a RHP, is also approaching 90 mph on the mound and could see more time in that role.

Popp, a LHP and first baseman, ended the season last year at 6-foot-3 and 225 lbs. “He’s a big, strong physical kid with plus power right now,” said Millman. “He looks to hurt the baseball every time he swings.” Millman praised Popp’s work ethic and noted the lefty hit 88 mph on the mound at the World Wood Bat tournament last summer.

Four other returning pitchers will join the Brunswick group on the mound. Jack Larimer, a 6-foot-2 RHP and rising senior from the Collegiate School in New York, pitched against the best teams on last year’s schedule, Millman noted. “He emerged as the ace of the staff,” said Millman. Larimer has the ability “to hit three solid pitches on any count,” Millman said “When Jack has the ball, his teammates expect to win.”

Jake Hertz, another longtime Nine veteran and rising senior at Briarcliff Manor High, returns as a starting RHP and quick outfielder, covering right or left field as needed. “He’s been one of our most consistent arms,” Millman said. Hertz also hit for over .400 last summer. “He’s just consistently been a tough out at the top of the order.” said Millman.

Chandler Brierley, a 6-foot-7 LHP and rising senior from Ridgefield High in New Jersey, returns for his second season. While Brierley mostly pitched in relief last season, Millman said he has a very high ceiling for continued improvement, noting what he called “flashes of brilliance against the Georgia Chain in a key WWBA 16U game last July. “Chandler’s projectability is just enormous,” Millman said. “He could easily add 75 pounds.”

Bryan Garcia from Walton Campus High in the PSAL, another RHP back this season, has emerged this spring “as a player to watch,” Millman said. Garcia has been gaining velocity, consistently hitting the upper 80s on his fastball while gaining more command of his curve and change-up. “He’s definitely an arm pro scouts are going to look at,” Millman said.

The Showcase team will benefit from the addition of four New York City area pitchers, Vincent Maltabano, a LHP from Bayside High School, Stuart Ross, a RHP from Millennium School, Henry Smith, a RHP from Poly Prep and Hayden Cohen, a RHP from Larchmont.

PSAL veterans will anchor the Nine infield. The list includes Aldwin Corona, an athletic and versatile middle infielder who plays for Benjamin Cardozo High, the reining PSAL champion. Corona is an athletic, instinctive ball player with plus range, Millman said. “He has middle infielder hands, he’s very quick and he’s been a quality late-inning option for us on the mound.”

The team’s returning third baseman, Chris Pichardo, is another double-duty player who also pitches and consistently puts the ball in play. “Chris is continuing to improve delivering with power to all fields,” said Millman, noting he’s a powerfully built corner infielder with middle infielder hands. As a pitcher, Chris has “a very live arm,” said Millman. “He competes with three solid pitches and there’s a lot more in the tank.”

Justin Tavares, who played second base last season, is continuing to improve and mature and is “going to continue to get better and better,” Millman said. Tavares has fast hands and a quick bat along with sharp base running instincts.

Behind the plate, the Nine returns its two starting catchers, Randy Ramirez and Jon-Michael Dolgetta. Ramirez, is another PSAL product; he’s a rising senior at Martin Van Buren High. “Randy has the ability to consistently put the bat to the ball with power to all fields,” Millman said, adding that Ramirez is a very good catch and throw defender with a strong work ethic. “He sets a great example for his teammates.” Millman said.

Dolgetta, a 205-pound rising senior from Briarcliff Manor High, returns for his fourth season with the Nine. Dolgetta has been a workhorse catcher for the Nine and Millman singled out Dolgetta for his work ethic and his solid defensive skills. “When Jon-Michel is behind the plate, pitchers are unafraid to use everything they have,” said Millman. “They know they can throw any pitch.”

The Showcase team will open its summer season June 5-7 with the Battle at the Border, a 24-team tournament played on fields around New York and Connecticut.

“Under coaches Latimer and Mondesir, the Showcase players will have the opportunity to both compete as a team and show their stuff individually,” said Millman. “It's a very important year in the collegiate process and I know, come the end of summer, each of the ballplayers on this club will have had ample opportunity to shine. I am expecting nothing but great results for the team and the individuals on it.”

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