for immediate release: 27 April, 2005
Bourne Braves 2005 Season Preview
BOURNE, Mass. -- When the 2005 edition of the Bourne Braves takes to the field in June to begin play in the Cape Cod Baseball League, manager Harvey Shapiro and general manager Mike Carrier are hoping a bit of the Boston Red Sox success from last year will rub off on them.
That's because the Braves have on their roster two players, Nick Francona and Beau Mills, who hope to bring the magic of Boston's first World Series title in 86 years to a town that hasn't captured a Cape League title in over half a century. Francona, of course, is the son of Red Sox skipper Terry Francona (and grandson of former MLB slugger Tito Francona) while Mills is the son of Sox bench coach Brad Mills. According to Carrier, both are looking forward to playing this summer with the Braves.
"I spoke to Nick recently and he's eager to come to the Cape and play (in the Cape League) and improve himself," said Carrier of 6-3 freshman lefthander out of Penn, who finished his first season with an 0-1 mark for the 11-26 Quakers, but in his last start of the year at Cornell, he blanked the Big Red for six innings.
Mills, a freshman third baseman at Fresno State, is considered to be a top major league prospect. A high school All-American from Visalia, CA, the left-handed-hitting Mills leads the Bulldogs with 15 home runs and is hitting over .300 for Fresno, currently in fourth-place in the WAC. In a three-game series against Nevada, Mills ripped three home runs in the series to help the Bulldogs take two out of three games from the Wolfpack.
The Braves will sport a young team in '05, with just one player returning to Bourne, right-handed pitcher Greg Reynolds, a sophomore at Stanford. But the talent that Carrier has assembled has the second-year GM looking for better things this year.
"We lost seven or eight players before the season even started last year, and that hurt us" stated Carrier. "Still, we were in the (playoff) hunt until the final weekend of the season. With the talent we have this year, I feel we should improve on our record(19-24-1) from a year ago."
In addition to Francona, Mills and Reynolds, the Braves should again feature a club with speed, led by sophomore Mike McBryde of Florida Atlantic, who is hitting over .300 and leads his team in stolen bases. Earlier this season, McBryde tied the Florida Atlantic school record in steals.
Another of the Braves’ players counted on highly is sophomore first baseman/pitcher Brad Lincoln of Houston, who leads the 18-22 Cougars in hitting with a .358 mark. On the mound, Lincoln has a 4-5 mark with a 4.18 ERA for Houston.
The Braves, who Carrier admits have been "below average" at the plate the last few seasons, hope to improve dramatically with the like of Mills, Lincoln and junior Chris Rahl of William & Mary. Rahl, one of only two juniors on the Braves' roster, was named the CAA Player of the Year in 2004, becoming the first sophomore in league history to earn the award. Currently, Rahl is batting .290 for the 21-19 Tribe with nine home runs and a team-leading 44 RBI.
On the mound, sophomore RHP Gib Hopson out of North Carolina State will be counted on heavily by the Braves. Hopson, who tossed a no-hitter against ACC rival Maryland, has a 5-1 mark with a 4.35 ERA for the 30-12 Wolfpack.
The Braves will be in good hands again with Shapiro as head man. In his third season with the Braves, the former Hartford coach enters the year with an overall Cape League managerial mark of 160-144-4, earning him 10th place on the all-time list for wins. Shapiro, a former coach in Amsterdam, is writing a chapter in a book to be released about baseball played overseas.
"My goal is to bring a championship to the town of Bourne," said Carrier, whose team will be playing its final season at Coady Field before moving to a new state-of-the-art facility on the grounds of Upper Cape Regional-Technical School in 2006. "We made the finals two years ago (before losing to Orleans). Hopefully we can take the next step this year."
Scott Sanford, CCBL Web Site Editor
John Garner, Jr.