for immediate release: 12 June, 2004
Kettleers aim to take added talent to the top
The addition of Maryland outfielder Justin Maxwell and former Wareham Gatemen manager Mike Roberts has the Kettleers poised to make a run at the Cape League title, which they last earned in 1999.
Maxwell took the Cape League by storm last summer, earning a host of recognition while playing for the Bourne Braves. In addition to taking the Manny Robello Award, given to the league’s best tenth man, Maxwell was named the CCBL’s “Best Athlete” by Baseball America. The University of Maryland star carried a .307 batting average, with two home runs and 17 RBI last summer. Maxwell injured his arm and took a medical red shirt for the Terps in the spring, but is still expected to be a high draft pick in the June Major League Baseball Draft.
Roberts returns to the Cape League for the first time since 2000. In that season, he took the Gatemen to the playoffs, before being ousted by Hyannis in the first round. The former University of North Carolina head coach has five Atlantic Coast Conference regular season titles to his credit along with four ACC Tournament crowns.
While the additions are nice, the Kettleers will have to cope with some key losses in 2004, as well. Missing from the Cotuit lineup this summer will be Eric Nielsen, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas product that was the Kettleers’ lone representative on last year’s All-League team. Nielsen was among the Cape League’s best hitters last summer, hitting .333 with two home runs and 23 RBI. He was third with a .473 slugging percentage and his .415 on base percentage was good for fourth. On the hill, Cotuit will have to find replacements for Eugene Espineli and Josh Deel. Espineli led the Kettleers with 20 appearances, picking up a two wins, two saves and a 1.48 ERA. Deel trailed only Espineli in appearances and tied for the team lead with three wins.
Braden Looper, Tim Salmon, Jeff Kent and Mark Bellhorn are among the myriad of former Cotuit stars currently playing Major League Baseball. Looper was a first round pick of the Florida Marlins in 1996 after competing for Cotuit in 1994. Kent and Salmon were teammates on the 1988 Kettleer squad. Bellhorn played in 1993 against then Orleans Cardinals shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.
The 2004 edition of Cotuit Kettleer baseball begins Thursday, June 17, when the club visits Bourne at 4:45. A day later, the Kettleers open the home portion of the schedule at Elizabeth Lowell Park with a 5 p.m. battle against Hyannis and will debut the brand new press box. --T.J. Lasita, 2004 CCBL Intern, TJLasita@capecodbaseball.org
John Garner, Jr.