06/06/2008 9:37 AM
Harwich Mariners 2008 Season Preview
Only One Returning Player from 2007 Means
New Look, New Hopes for Harwich Mariners
HARWICH, Mass. -- New talent, new faces and a new season. That’s the recipe which veteran field manager Steve Englert hopes will bring success to his Harwich Mariners when their Cape Cod Baseball League season gets under way in a little over a week.
“I hope they’re all standouts,” said Englert, who is entering his 10th season with Harwich. With only one returning player, right-handed pitcher Sean Black (Seton Hall), the team, like most Cape League teams, will be comprised mostly of newcomers.
Foremost among the first-year Mariners are outfielders and big hitters DJ Belfonte (Nebraska) and Brian Kemp (St. John’s), infielder Jason Stidham (Florida State), infielder/outfielder Joe Sanders (Auburn), left-handed pitcher and first baseman Brandon Belt (Texas), and infielder Shaver Hanson (Baylor).
Also look for right-handers Patrick Johnson (North Carolina) and Will Kempf (Baylor) to be in the starting rotation this summer. Johnson steps off his college field with a 4.14 ERA in 41 innings pitched, and a 4-1 record, while Kempf brings a 3.69 ERA in 68 innings pitched and a 3-1 record to Harwich’s Whitehouse Field.
Of Harwich’s one returnee, Black, Englert said he is “very happy to have him back. He is having a terrific spring … great kid and competitor.” Black had a 3.44 ERA with a 3-3 record at Seton Hall this spring.
While each player is expected to “show up on time, pay attention and play their butt off,” Englert said, he also wants them to be “respectful, cordial, great-character kids that can play a little ball.”
First baseman/outfielder Dustin Ackley (North Carolina) is an accomplished hitter at .399 with seven home runs and 44 RBI. Catcher Tommy Medica (Santa Clara) brings a .342 average, six home runs, and 44 RBI to Whitehouse Field.
Both Ackley and Medica are being wooed by Team USA, though “I’ve been really trying to sell the Cape to these two guys,” said Englert. “There’s tremendous exposure received through MLB Scouts by playing in the league. They haven’t said yes to the national team, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.”
Englert’s goal this season is to “win the whole thing, obviously, but more importantly, showcase players’ talents and increase [their] draft status and help to improve in all aspects of the game -- physically and mentally.”
The Mariners have sent several players into the Major Leagues, including Kevin Millar (Baltimore), Jason Bartlett (Tampa Bay), Kelly Shoppach (Cleveland) and Adam Melhuse (Texas).
Ashley Crosby, CCBL Intern ([email protected])