Excelsior Scholarship Is A College Gamechanger For New York Residents (and Coaches)

April 26 – New York State is the first in the nation to make their public colleges tuition-free. The state recently changed the way that the SUNY and CUNY University tuition system is structured, and this will allow residents who have established their address here in New York for the previous 12 months and fall under specific income guidelines to take advantage of a tuition-free education. These changes can and should change the way Coaches at these Universities recruit ballplayers as well.

The Excelsior Scholarship comes with some specific requirements that prospective collegians must meet. Aside from the previous tenure as a New York State resident, the combined household income for the 2017-2018 application year must be under $100,000. For the 2018-2019 year that amount increases to $110,000 and for 2019-2020 it increases again to $125,000. PELL and TAP grants will be deducted from the tuition portion of the Excelsior Scholarship amount.

Prospective students must be enrolled full time, taking a 30 credit per year course-load total, not going below 12 credits per semester.  There will also be a minimum GPA requirement. If the program is a declared five year program, the Excelsior Scholarship will honor five years worth of tuition. Transfer students and students with associate degrees (2-yr degree, Junior College) are also eligible to receive the Excelsior Scholarship but must have taken 30 credits their prior year. Lastly, you will be expected to remain in New York State as a resident a minimum of four years (or a number of years equal to the number of years you received the scholarship) upon the completion of your degree, or all Excelsior Scholarship monies will be converted into loans.

This Scholarship should change the way all CUNY and SUNY coaches recruit players. Any prospective student-athlete who has the appropriate admissions requirements (GPA and SAT), meets residency and financial guidelines and has the athletic ability to compete at the level of the institution now can be viewed as a player who does not count against the allotted number of athletic scholarships that the coach has to distribute. For Division 3 schools, they become a more attractive destination to some athletes who would have gone lower D1 or D2, but would have had to pull the fiscal weight of tens of thousands of dollars in loans.

At the New York Nine, we look to remain at the forefront of the college process without charging our student-athletes thousands of dollars in “consulting fees” or a “percentage of the value of the scholarship the coach secures for the student athlete”. We don’t prey on parent/guardian fear, turning them upside down and shaking their pockets empty. We also have full access to one of the top college counselors around, who happens to be a multiple time NYC guidance counselor of the year recipient and personally has more awards and accolades than he has wall space. For a small organization who prides itself on top level teams, in less than a decade, our student-athletes have been offered millions of dollars in scholarship aid and have either signed or been offered over 50 professional contracts. We pride ourselves on helping New Yorkers use baseball to improve their lives and futures, and the Excelsior Scholarship is a great new avenue that we at the Nine will look at to save our players and families tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

New York Nine At Dream Series

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Tempe, AZ – Tempe Diablo Stadium was the setting for this January’s Dream Series, presented by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. Only 60 pitchers and catchers from around the country were invited to participate, including Hunter Greene, who is potentially the first overall pick in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft. The New York Nine were honored that right-handers Austin Cole and Brayan Garcia were selected to participate.

Along with the tremendous exposure that accompanies the Dream Series, both Cole and Garcia got to work with many former big leaguers including Dave Stewart, Marvin Freeman, Darren Oliver, Marquis Grissom as well as front office personnel such as Tony Reagins (former Angels GM) and Reggie Waller (minor league executive and scout). When asked what stood out about the event, Cole, a 6’7″ hurler from Red Hook HS who resides in Tivoli, NY, stated “being able to make friends and play with some of the most talented kids out there. We also got instruction from people who not only made it to the league but guys like Dave Stewart and Tony Reagins who ran big league ball clubs.”

The 6’3″ Garcia, a Bronx resident who attends Walton HS, said “It was a great experience. I got great information from great players who just want to help us get a chance like they did”. Both young men agreed that it was an unbelievable opportunity. 

The New York Nine pride ourselves on being able to create additional opportunities for deserving student-athletes, and would like to thank coach Marcus Cayenne specifically for bringing together such a fantastic opportunity presented to so few ballplayers nation-wide. 

“The fact we had two high profile attendees will not only open doors for them as individuals, but for future deserving members of the New York Nine organization”, President Ian Millman stated. “We couldn’t have sent two better ambassadors. Austin and Brayan are first rate young men and represented the Nine with class. They probably also increased their draft coverage twofold.”

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5 Baseball Reasons You’re Causing Your Child To Be Over Stressed

In my decade and a half being committed to amateur baseball as a varsity head coach, collegiate pitching coach, professional baseball scout, unofficial draft advisor, elite level amateur coach and organizational head, I have seen, heard and been asked about almost everything. In this post I want to discuss a topic that often comes up – the cost of becoming a good enough baseball player to secure an athletic collegiate scholarship.

The cost I am referring to here includes both monetary and time – by that I mean the commitment of a significant amount of time, both by the parent and the child, to the pursuit of baseball excellence and an athletic scholarship. These two related costs often lead to the child and parent team focusing exclusively on, justifying the expense of, and ultimately expecting a specific result (an athletic scholarship). As a result, far too often the enjoyment of the game gets lost for both parties. There are five main concepts that can ruin the experience for both the child and the parent – while by no means are these the only five, they are the ones that in my experience happen with the most frequency.

First, the player will feel pressure to excel because of the time both they and their parent have invested. This is normal and part of playing baseball, but if you apply too much pressure on yourself, your performance suffers. While this may be something most people know already, a parent openly communicating with their child about not feeling over pressured or overly stressed because of the amount of time invested by either (or both) the child and the parent is the best way to alleviate pressure.

Second, the unrealistic expectation. This may be the most well-known and most-discussed topic within amateur baseball. Far too often, a parent is convinced their child is absolutely, unequivocally, the best player out there. When the child does not perform to the unrealistic expectation, the parent looks for any and all possible excuses. The parent blames the coach, or believes that the child is simply on the wrong team, or that the child isn’t practicing correctly, or practicing often enough. In two parent families, I’ve even seen one parent blame the other parent for the child’s inability to meet an expectation that cannot possibly be reached by the child. The primary result is that the child feels more pressure to perform each time the “excuse” is “remedied” (for example, each time the parent puts the child on a new team as the previous team was part of the problem in the parent’s mind). Also, many parents with unrealistic expectations end up embarrassing the child – every coach in amateur baseball can recall countless times that a parent has confronted the coach regarding their son, only for the son to later apologize to the coach for whatever it is that the parent said.

Third, generally directly related to the second – parents, looking for any reason why their son isn’t the star, will hire specialists. While there are many outstanding specialists out there and in the right circumstances, a specialist working with a child can be quite beneficial, there are also many unqualified ones who prey on well-intended parents in order to line their pockets, with no tangible benefit to the child. It seems that anyone who has played the game of baseball at any level feels they’re qualified to instruct or train players – but only if they are well-compensated for such instruction. Before seeking out a specialist, the best advice I can give is to “do your homework”– both in terms of the specialist in question (compare different specialists, ask coaches or instructors you trust for recommendations, etc.), but also in terms of whether it is right for the child (for example, asking the question what can realistically be gained by working specifically with a specialist). Most importantly, if the player isn’t having fun in the first place, or just doesn’t have the athletic skill, then even the best private instructors won’t make any difference.

Fourth, even a parent who has realistic expectations and does not throw money at a trainer to get the player better can still ruin the experience simply by reinforcing that “winning is the only thing that matters.” In this case, “winning” does not mean winning a game or a tournament, but rather, obtaining an athletic scholarship, or often times, an athletic scholarship to a specific university. Baseball is already an incredibly hard game to play and excel at – putting additional pressure on the child to perform (even with realistic expectations for the child) can often times detract from their enjoyment of the game and their passion to play. Not surprisingly, this can and will hinder their performance. It’s perfectly okay to push, but there is definitely a line, and a parent must be aware and conscious when you are pushing a little (for the child’s best interest), and pushing too hard (often for the parent’s own interests).

Lastly there is the relationship cost between the athlete and their parent. The same way the parent often blames others, the athlete sometimes blames the parent when the desired result isn’t achieved. They blame their parent for their loss of passion for the game, their inability to live up to and achieve the expectations placed upon them and for all of the time they wasted trying to achieve this result. In my opinion, this is the greatest cost, takes the longest time to repair (if at all) and correcting the strained relationship and resentment can take years and years. The best advice to prevent this possibility is open communication between child and parent at all times as to expectation and also as to what the child wants.

The bottom line is that baseball should be played for fun by people who love to play. Genetics and natural development play a huge role in how good a player can ultimately be. Parents have to have realistic expectations as to their child’s chances for an athletic scholarship (or in some cases, a professional contract). There is no reason to alienate yourself from your child because your version of reality is different than what is happening right in front of you. Unrealistic expectations and significant time and monetary investments can also often build a major sense of false hope for the player. Some players are never able to recover when they don’t get that scholarship to their dream University because of the false information they have been fed by their personal coaches, trainers, anybody else who has fiscally benefited from their development, and also because of the amount of time and money both they and their parents spent in order to become good enough to receive such an offer.

There is nothing wrong with paying people to provide the right guidance, instruction and information to your child. But there must be an honest dialogue between all parties (the parent, the child, and any and all coaches) about that player’s ability and whether there is a possible future at the collegiate or professional level. If there is such a dialogue, then the money will be well spent because the child will build character and a strong work ethic, even if there may not be a future for the child at the collegiate or professional level. However, without such a dialogue, then the parent risks firing hard-earned money into a furnace and destroying his or her relationship with the child.

Class of 2017 Commitments

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The New York Nine is honored to announce the collegiate commitments of some members of our class of 2017. We congratulate these student-athletes and their families and know they will represent the organization professionally at the next level.

Daniel Alfonzo INF – Adelphi University

After carrying Bayside High School offensively to the 2017 PSAL “B” Division Championship in New York City, the offensively explosive Alfonzo opted to remain closer to home, spurning larger out of state offers, and will bring his talents to Garden City. Alfonzo possesses tremendous raw power, as he was selected to represent New York City in the prestigious Power Showcase at Marlins Park in Miami in late December. With playable middle infielders hands, he has the potential to become an above average corner defender, while his ability to turn around any fastball will make him a draft selection at some point during his amateur career, possibly as early as June.

Brendan Brooks INF – UC Irvine

With elite middle infield tools, Brooks drew more “did he really just do that?” than anybody. Brendan has exceptional barrel to ball skills and is a good base runner due to his plus instincts and better than average speed. He is also capable of helping on the mound with a high 80s fastball and a knuckleball that will give him a chance to play the game long term should he ever want to focus on its development. Brendan was committed to UC Irvine prior to his arrival for the summer 2016 season.

Austin Cole RHP – Adelphi University

The 6’7″ Cole possesses a loose, clean arm and the type of lanky frame that collegiate coaches and pro scouts search for. Still in his pitching infancy, Austin will continue to get better as he begins to hone his mechanics and gets stronger. Even though there is more work to do, Austin is already up to 91 mph and possesses the type of upside the collegiate and pro communities look for. He is an easy going kid and is as coachable as they come with the translatable athleticism to play the game at the professional level.

Michael Garcia INF/P – University of Rio Grande (OH)

Four year George Washington High School varsity starter Mike Garcia will bring his passionate play and on field leadership to the University of Rio Grande in Ohio in the fall of 2017. Garcia plays the game hard every time out and inspires his teammates through his individual efforts and his vocal encouragement. Whether a key bunt, hit or high pressure defensive play, Garcia doesn’t shy away from the key moment in the game where many would feel “pressure”. To top it off, the Trojan closer competes with an aggressive mid 80’s fastball and solid slider combination which gives the Red Storm an incoming dual threat.

Shandon Herrera RHP/OF – Lubbock Christian (TX)

“Chango” is one of the more interesting roster members of our Scout team. Extremely humble and a fantastic teammate, Herrera offers one of the most athletic sets seen by the Nine in recent years. After passing on offers from major D1 programs, he decided help alleviate the financial burden of college on his parents as well as compete as a two-way player. A super competitive RHP who has been up to 93 with a loose, quick arm and a plus slider, Herrera projects as a player who should one day see 96 plus. Couple that with all around plus offensive tools and desire to be the best player on the field, Shandon may not be much longer for amateur athletics.

Preston Milano INF – Queens (NY) College

St. Francis Preparatory’s defensive leader Milano will transition from a Terrier to a Knight in the fall of 2017 as he looks to solidify Chris Reardon’s infield at Queens College. Milano is a “set it and forget it” middle infielder who is as reliable as they come. Milano is able to anchor both middle infield spots as well as offer an athletic option with plus hands at the hot corner. Preston is the type of selfless player who will do whatever is needed with a team first mentality. A tough out, Milano’s strength is a gap to gap approach that will wear out the right center field gap when he going well.

Mark Novello LHP – Adelphi University

Novello, from Archbishop Molloy HS in Queens, New York won’t be venturing to far to continue his education and athletic development. The southpaw will be heading to Garden City’s Adelphi University and playing under head coach Dom Scala. Novello features a deceptive three pitch arsenal in which he is able to repeat his mechanics and deliver any offering at any time. Slight in stature, Mark is a highly focused and driven competitor who has repeatedly proven the ability to get the other team’s best hitters out.

Dimitri Papazoglou LHP – Queens (NY) College

The LHP Papazoglou pitched Bayside HS to the PSAL “B” division crown in 2016, not allowing an earned run throughout the entire playoff stretch. At 6’2″ 155 lbs there is plenty of projection as the low 3/4 slot, low 80s fastball will improve drastically once he gets bigger and stronger. Dimitri also offers an 11 to 5 curveball and tighter slider that projects to improve as he gains strength to go with a solid average changeup. A fierce competitor who has the desire to constantly improve, Papazoglou will make his mark this year as one of the city’s premier port side arms as well as his next four years for the Knights.

Rory Smith C – Cal Baptist University

The Riverside, California backstop provides a very advanced maturity and in game feel behind the dish. Smith will bring his on field leadership and plus defensive skills to the Lancers in the fall of 2017. Offensively, Smith stays in the power alleys with solid barrel feel and occasional long ball power. Rory was committed prior to his summer 2016 arrival.

Nate Webb C/UTIL – UC Riverside

Webb is a strong and stockily built athletic high energy athlete with present plus power, who is a textbook “gamer” by definition. Self confident and aware, but far from arrogant, Webb possesses a loose, quick arm on the bump which has allowed him to see 92mph with more in the tank as well as a low 1.8s POP time from behind the dish. A middle of the order staple, Webb is capable of delivering a tape measure blast at any time. Nate was committed to UC Riverside prior to his summer 2016 arrival.

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New York Nine Fall Two Runs Short In Title Defense

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October 16 (Yaphank, NY) – Winning a championship at any level is difficult, defending the title is even harder. After claiming the 2015 crown at the Antonia Agostinelli Memorial, the 2016 New York Nine Fall 18u club set their sights on repeating championships this weekend at Baseball Heaven.

Opening pool play at 8am on Saturday, the Nine were successful against Team Steel by a score of 8-2. Matt DeMartini fired a complete game, while Jessie Spellman and Mike Garcia each scored twice and eight different players had hits.

The second pool game pitted the Nine against an elite Team Connecticut Select squad, with the Nine emerging as 3-1 winners. Chris Moreno gave the Nine some breathing room in the second as he stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch with a brilliant headfirst slide. Danny Alfonzo’s two RBI double plating Randy Flores and Robinson Plata proved to be the difference in support of Danny Betances who allowed a single run in a brilliant complete game victory.

Looking to secure the pool with a win the Nine faced off with Long Island Baseball Prospects at 10am Sunday and behind some poor defense and timely LIB hitting fell behind 3-1, which is where the score stood into the 6th inning. With two outs, Danny Alfonzo’s double, Joseph Caba’s single and German Sepulveda’s double knotted the score at three. With Tyler Paulino running for Sepulveda, pinch hitter Brian Lopez plated Paulino with what turned out to be the winning run. Mike Ruffini was brilliant in relief, not allowing a hit in two scoreless frames, picking up the win.

With the 3-0 record, the Nine clinched the #2 seed in their bracket and had to wait around until 6pm to play in the semi-final against the Next Level Titans. The Nine couldn’t muster much offense against William Gilbert, who was outstanding in his own right, fanning eight. Austin Cole, ultimately the winning pitcher, was every bit as masterful as he allowed one unearned run in his five frames of work under the watchful eye of the multiple MLB scouts there to see him. The 6’7 RHP ran his fastball up to 90mph and worked through some defensive lapses behind him. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 5th, Joseph Caba scored on a Tyler Paulino ROE and Robinson Plata’s daring advance of home on a ball just next to the Next Level catcher provided reliever Julio Suero, who worked through runners on the corners, the one run needed to secure the save in relief.

In the Championship game, some 11 hours after the first pitch of the day seen by the Nine, Adirondack Heat hurler Rob Debrino bested the Nine offense. Debrino fanned ten, allowing only two hits, a single to Robinson Plata and a double to Randy Flores, as the Heat claimed the crown with a 2-0 victory. Nine starter Mark Novello and reliever Derrick Jimenez threw well enough to give the Nine the chance to win. The Nine finished in second place, having posted a respectable 4-1 record in 36 hours of baseball action in the Agostinelli Memorial Tournament.

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Nine Alum TJ Rivera Finally Gets “The Call”

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August 10, 2016 – TJ Rivera entered Tuesday night’s doubleheader with the New York Mets affiliate Las Vegas 51s leading the Pacific Coast League with a .349 Batting Average and 80 RBIs, and had just been named the PCL Player of the Week for a second time. He also boasted 26 doubles and 11 Home Runs and was hitting .517 in his past week, so when skipper Wally Backman called him into the office and told him that he was going to be rested for the second game of a scheduled doubleheader, TJ was a bit surprised. It was then that the six year minor leaguer, with a .323 career average, the best in all of baseball, and many individual awards and accolades to his credit, was informed that he better hurry home to pack so he could make his red-eye to New York which was leaving in a couple of hours. The long overdue “call to the show” finally came.

Rivera is a Bronx native who played his prep baseball at Lehman High School. He was on the inaugural New York Nine Scout Team in 2006, helping lead the club to its first ever regional birth. Rivera then set the Nine record with a .508 batting average in 2007, as he homered three times in an NABF regional playoff game versus the Long Island Tigers to propel the Nine to their first World Series appearance in Jackson, Mississippi (where the Nine subsequently finished third). Rivera still holds many top ten records listed on the Scout team leaderboard.

After solid campaigns at both George Wallace CC in Dothan, Alabama, then Troy State, Rivera went undrafted. Two Hundred rounds had passed in the four years that he was draft eligible and his name was never called. Rivera had turned down an opportunity after his sophomore year to sign as a converted catcher with an American League club and began to wonder if that would have been his only chance at professional baseball. When the New York Mets had a need for a “filler” infielder at the lowest possible level, Rivera got his shot. The expectation is he would stick around long enough to fill the needed roster spot, but then Rivera hit, hit some more, and only had one sub-.300 season in the minor leagues. As players of lesser offensive skill were promoted over him, TJ kept his laser-like focus, professional workman like approach and attitude. He knew that if he kept doing his job that at some point he would get the opportunity and be ready for it. Preparation met opportunity on Tuesday.

“I couldn’t be happier for the Rivera family, specifically for TJ,” stated Nine President Ian Millman. “I think it would be tough to find anyone who has had to have the patience and fortitude shown by TJ year after year, to keep showing up for work and putting up the numbers he did while many others got the opportunity he had earned. They say that once you get past double-A the results speak for themselves and those who deserve the shot will get it. I was starting to question why the Mets didn’t give him that chance as he hit around .350 mutiple times in double and triple-A. What I can tell the world about Rivera is he is a first rate person, has an unbelievable amount of self-confidence which I know helped him through these past couple of years, and has the best barrel-to-ball skills of any player I have ever coached, and among the best I’ve ever seen. He has always been able to hit. There is no doubt in my mind that with TJ, if the Mets let him put his foot in the door, he will kick it off the hinges. The kid just needs a fair chance”.

Rivera started at third base against the Arizona Diamondbacks just hours after landing in New York, with about 30 members of his friends and family in attendance. They also got to witness his first big league hit, a single to open the home half of the tenth inning. Be sure to keep an eye on, and root for, one of our own – Thomas Javier Rivera of the hometown New York Mets.

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Fall Tryouts Announced, Fall Schedule Posted

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The New York Nine has released the fall 2016 schedule online and is looking for the top amateur baseball players in the area. We will host our initial fall tryout on Thursday, August 18th at Frank Padavan (Preller) Fields located at 236-02 Hillside Ave in Bellerose.

All potential players ages 14-18 should report prior to 5pm to check in.

Please bring all proper equipment, as well as wooden bat. The complex is natural grass, so please also be sure to have appropriate footwear. The fall is a strictly wooden bat scheduled season at all age levels. There is no fee associated with this tryout.

Once again, the Nine was successful this past summer season, as 100 percent of our senior class is committed to college and set to continue their athletic careers with varying forms of scholarship aid.

Please fill out the form below to register for next Thursday’s workout or email info@newyorknine.org with any additional questions/inquiries.

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Nine Announce Fall Coaching Staff Additions

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The New York Nine, in an effort to always provide coaches who have a deep knowledge of the game of baseball at the highest levels, as players and teachers, are pleased to announce the following staff additions for the upcoming 2016 fall season: (alphabetically listed)

Marcus Cayenne – Cayenne graduated from Howard University and received his law degree from Barry University’s Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in 2008. Cayenne began his coaching career as a student assistant coach with Howard University, then on to Norman Thomas HS in 2006. Marcus was an intern with the Washington Nationals Baseball Operations department in 2008. In 2009, Cayenne was hired by the Oakland Athletics as an Area Supervisor covering Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia, and has multiple draft picks to his credit. Cayenne brings a vast knowledge of the game on the teaching, coaching, recruiting and scouting sides with him to the Nine. He also brings his passion for teaching and creating future opportunities at the next level for student athletes.

Mariel Checo – Checo starred at Norman Thomas HS, leading the club to it’s first and only PSAL city title. After being drafted by the hometown Yankees, Checo helped lead the GCL Yankees to their league championship in 2011 punching out 41 batters in 27 innings, while only allowing 18 hits. In 2012 Checo picked up seven victories at class-A Charleston while fanning 47 batters in 40 innings against only 30 hits. In 2016, he was named an Atlantic League All-Star with the York Revolution.

Melvin Garcia – Garcia was a plus defender with a plus arm (100 mph from the outfield) when drafted and signed by the Toronto Blue Jays out of James Monroe High School. A multiple time All-City selection, Garcia led the Eagles to two PSAL Championship Games. At the Professional level, Garcia made only two errors, reaching as high as short season A ball in Vancouver.

Francisco Gracesqui – Gracesqui, a self made hard worker and student of the game, was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as an undrafted Free Agent out of Sullivan County College. Gracesqui, a southpaw hurler, helped lead his alma-mater George Washington High School to the PSAL city crown in 2012. He threw 8 innings in the Championship game and earned MVP honors. Gracesqui allowed only 73 hits in 94 career minor league innings with the Jays, punching out 108 with a career 2.20 era while reaching class-A Lansing in the Midwest League helpful site.

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2016 New York Nine Fall Ball Information

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As the summer season winds down, the New York Nine is actively preparing for the upcoming fall season. If you are between the ages of 14-18, athletically qualified and looking for premium baseball instruction and opportunity, the New York Nine is the place for you. Since 2006, we have helped over 200 athletes continue to play baseball in college and over 40 players have signed professional contracts.

The Nine Fall Program has a schedule designed to accomplish multiple albeit similar goals singulair medicine. The program is designed to give athletes a chance to show what they can do in front of the New York Nine staff, college coaches and professional scouts. During the Fall Program the New York Nine coaches evaluate how student athletes play in games and give them an extended tryout for the upcoming summer. We also schedule multiple tournaments where student athletes are given a chance to show their tools and skills in front of MLB scouts and college coaches.

Please click here to sign up for (or fill out the form below) and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for tryout information.

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Scout Team Runners-Up at 18u Impact Blue Ridge Championships, Miss Playoffs at CABA 18u World Series in Spectacular Fashion

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Blacksburg, Virginia – The Scout team kicked off their two event southern swing with a second place finish at the 2016 18u Impact Blue Ridge Championships held at Virginia Tech.

Yohn Zapata set the tone for the tournament by fanning seven in a complete game win to open pool play at Salem Kiwanis field, the former home of the Salem Red Sox. The park was built in 1932, and contained seats from the original Yankee Stadium. It was an incredible place to play. Austin Cole also fanned four batters in one inning of work.

Trevor Johnson set a new organizational mark by swiping his 20th base of the summer, and now has a total of 22. Brendan Brooks hit .545, scoring seven runs and stole three bases. Outfielder Edward Madera went 9-16 (.563) with a booming home run in the championship game. He also scored six times. Nick Vella was 8-19 (.421) scoring three times, swiping three bags and driving in six. Rory Smith drove home four while batting .438. As a team the Nine hit .340 with a .455 OBP.

The road weary Nine then made the six hour trip into beautiful Charleston and prepped for their 9am game vs the Indiana Rawlings Tigers, which was postponed by rain in the bottom of the seventh with the Nine trailing 3-2 with the bases loaded and one out. More on this at the end of the article.

For the week, the Nine battled to a 2-2-1 record and were on the fringe of making the playoffs. Matt DeMartini fired a complete game shutout over the Carolina Prospects allowing only one hit while striking out two. Chris Pichardo was masterful in a complete game tie with Team Ontario. He scattered seven hits while fanning four. Shandon Herrera went 5 2/3 allowing six hits while fanning nine vs the playoff bound Upstate Mavericks.

Danny Perez got on base to a .600 clip while also blasting a long home run vs the Upstate Mavericks. Edward Madeira continued his torrid hitting by batting .455, slugging .636 and reaching base .625 pct of the time. Danny Alfonzo drove home five while hitting .333. As a team the Nine walked 32 times against only 18 strikeouts. This set up an amazing finish as the Nine needed a win in the completion of the rain shortened first game to have a shot to move into the playoffs.

After pool play was done the Nine returned to Dennis Park where they loaded the bases with one out and their 3 and 4 hitters due up. On a 2-1 count, Danny Perez got under a fastball and lifted a fly to shallow center which the runners were unable to advance. Nate Webb fell behind 1-2 when he drove a fastball deep to right center and appeared to have ended the game with a walk off grand slam. The Tigers center fielder made a catch for the ages as he went over the fence bringing the ball back, and held the ball while crashing into the fence to end the game. It was a spectacular play on a ball that was hit on the button.

With the college coverage and follow up, pro coverage, and our juniors getting a jump on their college process it was a very successful trip.

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