06/03/2007 1:50 PM
for immediate release: 3 June, 2007
Cotuit Kettleers 2007 Season Preview
Cotuit Is the Team to Beat in 2007
COTUIT, Mass. – Last season was almost perfect for field manager Mike Roberts and the Go-Go Cotuit Kettleers.
The team posted an impressive 27-16-1 record, marking the most wins for the storied Cape Cod Baseball League franchise since 1995. The Kettleers also captured the regular season Western Division title and led the league in team batting average (.256) and pitching with a staff ERA of 2.36.
Eight Kettleers were named to the Western Division All-Star team, including first baseman Justin Smoak (South Carolina), whose outstanding season for Cotuit earned him the coveted Cape Cod Baseball League Pat Sorenti MVP award.
The team capped its awards collection with the Commissioner’s Cup for Top Team of the Year in 2006. Although the speedy Kettleers had the makings of a championship team in 2006, their fairytale season was cut short in the divisional playoffs by the Wareham Gatemen.
Unfortunately for the rest of the Cape League, the 2007 Kettleers are ready to pick up where they left off last season. Having already been named the top summer team in the nation by Baseball America Editor Allan Simpson, the Kettleers’ combination of veteran players and fresh talent will be tough to beat in 2007.
With the loss of big hitters Eric Farris (Loyola Marymount) and Matt Angle (Ohio State), along with pitcher James Simmons (UC-Riverside), the Kettleers will be looking to veteran players to step up and have stellar performances in the big games.
The talented Smoak will not return to Cotuit this summer as he has accepted an invitation to join the 2007 USA National Baseball Team.
Returning for Coach Roberts will be pitchers Jordan Meaker (Dallas Baptist), Dave Duncan (Georgia Tech), and Michael Cisco (South Carolina), along with shortstop Reese Havens (South Carolina) and second baseman Tony Delmonico (Tennessee).
Last season, Havens was selected to the CCBL All-Star team for his performance at shortstop. Havens hit .266 for Cotuit last season with two home runs and 16 RBI. In his freshman year at South Carolina, Havens earned All-SEC honors for his defensive performance. The rookie started 65 games at shortstop and batted .259 for the Gamecocks with four home runs and 40 RBI. This year, Havens and the Gamecocks are looking to make their season last a little longer as they host the 2007 NCAA Regionals in Columbia, S.C.
Another Gamecock returning to the Cape is pitcher Michael Cisco, the grandson of former major league hurler and pitching coach Galen Cisco. The younger Cisco was the go-to man his first season for the Kettleers, posting a 4-0 record and a 2.90 ERA. Cisco pitched 40.1 innings for Cotuit and tallied 27 strikeouts. . He was the team leader in strikeouts and innings pitched during his freshman year at South Carolina, throwing 88.2 innings for the Gamecocks, and ended with a 3.96 ERA. His performance earned him a spot on the 2006 SEC All-Freshman Team and the NCAA All-Regional Team.
Left-handed Dave Duncan is another hurler that should be an essential part of the Kettleers’ bullpen this season, if he isn’t drafted and signed by a major league club. He was drafted in the 14th round in 2005 out of high school. Duncan went 3-2 for the Kettleers last season, throwing 32.1 innings with a 3.06 ERA. As anchor of the Georgia Tech pitching staff this year, Duncan compiled a 7-4 record with the Yellow Jackets and a 3.72 ERA in 104 innings.
The experience the veteran players bring to the young Cotuit squad will be crucial to their success as they lead a talented and diverse group of ballplayers. Fresh faces such as rookie pitcher Jeff Lockwood (Tennessee) and first baseman Aaron Baker (Oklahoma) should give Cotuit's fans plenty to talk about.
Lockwood made the most of his rookie season with Tennessee, hitting .315 for the Vols and compiling a 3.20 ERA on the mound; he led the SEC in saves with eight. In SEC play, Lockwood’s batting average sat at a solid .320 and he was named the conference's Freshman of the Week twice. Lockwood was the Vols’ top hitter in the NCAA Regional, going 5-for-11 (.455) as the DH. The Freshman All-SEC selection also made two relief pitching appearances for UT in the SEC Tournament.
Vying for one of the catching spots and relief pitching roles will be versatile Robert Stock (Southern California). He was the Trojans’ starting catcher, but also showed the ability to close games on the mound. A member of the 2004 and 2005 U.S. Youth National Team, he was named 2005 Baseball America Youth Player of the Year after his junior season at Agoura (Calif.) High. He capped his high school career when he batted .456 with six home runs and 25 RBI, while posting a 5-3 record with a 2.69 ERA with a fastball clocked as high as 95 miles per hour.
Freshman right-hander Michael Leake led tournament-bound Arizona State with a 12-1 record. Michael was a 7th round draft pick in the 2006 Major League Baseball draft out of high school. Joining the pitching staff is Josh Lindblom (Purdue), a third round pick in the 2005 draft. Josh was named Baseball America’s top overall prospect in Indiana.
Also on the pitching staff is 6-6 right-hander Jordan Meaker (Dallas Baptist), a ninth round pick in the 2005 draft, and 6-8 righty Chris Fetter (Michigan), who captured Baseball America Freshman All America and All-Big Ten Freshman honors in 2006
Ryan White led Purdue in hitting with a .452 average in 53 games. He was a 2006 Freshman All America choice, along with being named to the All-Big Ten Conference Team. Left-hander JB Shuck (Ohio State) is a versatile outfielder/pitcher. JB was named Big 10 Freshman of the Year and was picked for the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team as well. Hard-hitting infielder Joshua Harrison (Cincinnati) was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America selection in 2006. Last summer, he played in the Great Lakes League, where he was named the Co-Top Hitting prospect and was ranked the sixth best prospect in the league by Baseball America. Outfielder Mike Bianucci (Auburn), who played at Yarmouth-Dennis last year, joins the Kettleers for 2007. He was tabbed this past season as a Second Team All-SEC. Infielder Correy Figueroa from Saint Petersburg, Fla., is particularly looking forward to Cotuit's games with Harwich, where his twin brother is playing.
Oklahoma must be happy to have freshman Aaron Baker on its side as the first baseman started his collegiate career with a 22-game hitting streak and tallied a .323 batting average with a whopping 50 RBI.
General Manager Bruce G. Murphy hopes to again put an exciting team on the field, while, but, like most other Cape League GMs, still must await the 2007 MLB draft and Team USA final selections.
Cotuit fans are expecting another strong season from coach Roberts and his squad, who open the season at home against the Bourne Braves on June 15 at 5 p.m.
Erica Bailey, CCBL Intern ([email protected])