for immediate release: 18 May 2009
Mets Hope New Recruiting Approach Will Pay Off
HYANNIS, Mass. -- McKeon Park will be illuminated for the second straight year, as the Hyannis Mets take the field coming off a Commissioner’s Cup winning season as the league’s best organization. And with a new field manager in place in the person of Chad Gassman, optimism is overflowing in the backyard of Pope John Paul II High School.
Gassman, in his third season as head coach at Waldorf College in Iowa, returns to Hyannis after serving as the pitching coach last season under first-year skipper Rick Robinson.
With three managers in three years, it is hard to build relationships with college coaches, which is why the Mets are “hoping to build a long-term relationship (with Gassman),” said general manager Bill Bussiere.
Last year’s Mets finished 22-22 and faded down the stretch, thanks in part to a roster that never fully materialized as a number of juniors were selected in the MLB draft. By Bussiere’s count, Hyannis lost 12 or 13 players before the 2008 season even started, which is why Bussiere and Gassman took a much different approach in recruiting this year’s team.
You have to have a strong beginning roster, temp(orary players) list, and guys to bring in at the end,” Gassman said. “We make the playoffs (last year) if we have a couple arms ready to go.”
That is why this year’s roster is composed almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores, who bring pitching, speed and defense to the table. “If you have those three things, you win,” Gassman said.
That speed is evident on the roster. Through April 26, outfielder Jamal Austin and infielder Nick Crawford, both of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, were 12-for-12 and 14-for-18, respectively, in stolen bases. Add Casey Johnson (Oklahoma), who was perfect in eight theft attempts, and Hyannis is ready to wreak havoc on the basepaths.
And just because the roster is stocked with speed doesn’t mean it lacks power. Infielder Cody Hawn of Tennessee was hitting .361 with 17 home runs and 67 RBI, while ranking among the Southeastern Conference leaders in batting average, home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and total bases. Winthrop’s Catcher-outfielder Eddie Rohan (Winthrop) boasted a .327 average with 12 long balls and 43 RBI.
The Mets finished third in the league in earned run average in 2008 and figure to be just as stacked on the hill in 2009. A pair of Virginia hurlers, Tyler Wilson and Danny Hultzen, will bring sub-3.00 ERAs to Hyannis. The Mets also have two closers on the roster: Ryan Duke (Oklahoma) and Thomas Girdwood (Elon), who have combined to save more than 22 games in 2009. Bussiere said the Mets plan to use Casey Harman (Clemson) both on the mound and in the field. Harman is 5-3 with a 3.71 ERA in 51 innings pitched.
Coming off a year as the league’s top organization brings with it high expectations and Bussiere said it set a standard that the organization will try to maintain. “Even if we don’t win the cup, we’ll still have Commissioner’s Cup style,” the general manager said.
And it goes without saying the Mets would like to add another piece of hardware to their collection in 2009, the Arnold Mycock Trophy, which goes to the league champions.
Hyannis will take its first steps in that direction on Friday night, June 12, when the Mets open against the Bourne Braves at 7 at McKeon Park.
Chris Blake, CCBL Intern ([email protected])
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