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CBD Fall Checkin: Maine

Maine is looking forward to the ten new additions, one who was a highly touted red-shirt last season. The 2011 America East Champions are excited to back into action.

PITCHING DEPTH –
Tommy Lawrence had to sit last season because of the transfer rule, but Trimper says he’s good enough to help the team significantly and make a big impression in the league. Other impressive pitchers include Alex Gagné, who has looked sharp in Fall-ball, and Logan Fullmer a more highly touted freshman. “He has a chance to be a weekend starter right away,” said Trimper. One last pitcher to look out for is big right-hander Charlie Butler.

The team has lost two fire ballers in Jeff Gibbs and Steve Perakslis. Both were drafted and signed. Trimper says his 2012-2013 staff is different and much more of a college pitching staff. “They’re the guys who throw two pitches for strikes,” he says. “More of a contact pitching staff is what we’re striving for, and that’s really what we’ve gotten.”

Two other key returners are both coming back from Tommy John’s surgery. AJ Bazdanes was red shirted last year, but is back on the staff and southpaw Scott Heath is also returning. Heath is a two-way guy and hit in the number four spot for the Black Bears last season. The Black Bears will add Jake Marks to their team in January. Marks was a 28th round pick for the Mets and played for team Canada this summer.

KEY RETURNERS –
Some key returners include senior Mike Fransoso, and juniors Alex Calbick, and Mike Connolly. Fransoso is a seasoned shortstop, and Trimper calls him a prototypical franchise guy. “He doesn’t slow down,” Trimper says. “He plays at 110 miles per hour.” All three players spent time playing in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League this summer.

Mike Connolly was number one pick of the University’s Blue and White games. Maine recruited him as a short stop that could play some third base, but he has been seen at a multitude of positions. In 2012 coaches started to convert him into a catcher. He became a second-team All Conference pitcher. Then he went to the Cape League and became a catcher for the 2012 powerhouse, Harwich Mariners. “He’s probably the most valuable guy you could put on a team, have him bouncing around,” Trimper says. Connolly and senior Tyler Patzalek will share some time behind the plate.

Fall Ball –
Fall ball a great teaching time for Maine baseball. Trimper says they fight weather all the time in the state so it’s important to take advantage of the other months. This fall has allowed for some time to evaluate new and veteran players. “It’s where the guys are working extremely hard and getting the most out of our practices.”

Trimper likes the depth of the pitching staff, but like many coaches says his biggest question is what kind of offensive production the team will produce. In terms of potential power, Steve Trimper says sophomore Fran Whitten had a pretty good summer in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Whitten went to the Keene Swamp Bats and hit 11 homeruns.

Positional battles –
Though some positions are settled, there are positional battles in the outfield. “There’s six guys competing with each other, and there’s a couple who could come around and start hitting behind the plate.” Scott Heath, Luke Mogle along with Collin Gay, Sam Balzano, and Ryan Doran are some returners who will compete for the outfield positions. Trimper hopes to see a lot of speed from his players in the outfield. He also sees strength in the team’s defense and thinks it’s one of the best he’s ever had.

There’s also some competition behind the plate. Patzalek is a senior catcher, but Connolly had a tremendous Cape season. Trimper also said out of the blue, John Salcedo is the team’s best throwing catcher. “That’s a sign of a program that has a lot of talent that there’s guys competing for spots right now.”

Theme of the team –
“We have really bought into this system of the two way guy, and using the athletes on the field.” Shane Bussey was rated in the top 50 players in Florida. He is an infielder who can also pitch. Another two-way infielder/pitcher is Nick DeFrank. Continuing with the theme of a two-way player, Luke Morrill is a 6’5” left handed hitting, right handed throwing first baseman. Maine decided to put him on the mound and he ended up throwing 92-93 miles per hour.

MITCHELL BATTING PAVILION –
Trimper took the job at Maine eight years ago knowing he was going to a highly supported program. “We have a tremendous amount of donor support and alumni support,” he says. “By promoting our program, we were able to do a lot of things.” Maine has some of the nicest baseball facilities in the country with a dome, field turf surface, renovated dugouts, and most recently the Mitchell Batting Pavilion. The pavilion was announced in May and completed in just three months. The facility was dedicated in August, and now supports the baseball and softball teams as well as the community.

Named after former Maine baseball alum, Paul Mitchell, the pavilion started as the idea to plant a tree, or even sponsor a locker room. But the small idea turned into something much bigger. Inside, it holds 80×60 foot batting cages, a pro batting machine, a player’s lounge, and video equipment so players can watch themselves and use it as a learning tool.

The pavilion is a huge community builder as well. It’s open to the public, and coaches are often running clinics and camps for younger kids who don’t find as many opportunities in northern Maine. “We’re fortunate to have great facilities,” said Trimper. “This vision has been such a benefit. It’s a testament to everyone in Maine.”

  • Regis044

    Excellent writeup of my Black Bears baseball program. I am only sad I just found it today not last fall when I was itching for some off season news.