The Cape Cod Baseball League is the summer home for many of the country’s top college prospects.
This year, the University of Maine has sent four players to the prestigious wooden bat league for its 114th season.
Outfielders Billy Cather and Kevin McAvoy of Brewer, catcher Joe Mercurio and pitcher Kevin Scanlan will display their talents on the Cape.
McAvoy, who will be a senior in the fall, is in his second stint with the Chatham Athletics. He batted .257 with one homer and 15 RBIs in 35 games in 2007.
He is joined by Black Bear teammates Mercurio, a junior, and Scanlan, a sophomore lefty.
Cather, who will be a senior, recently signed with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red sox.
“I think this is a record year,” UMaine coach Steve Trimper said of his four Cape League performers.
In the Cape League, having a connection is the best way through the door. Trimper is a longtime friend of Chatham manager John Shiffner, the coach at Plainfield (Conn.) High School. He has opened the door for several of Trimper’s players at Manhattan and UMaine.
“It is running on eight years now that he’s had one of my players,” said Trimper, who placed five of his former Manhattan players with the A’s.
“Every one of those guys has been drafted,” Trimper said, “and one of those kids [right-handed pitcher Mike Parisi] started Saturday night for the [St. Louis] Cardinals.”
Countering the excitement of the Bears’ involvement in the Cape League is the uncertainty of what will happen during the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, which begins today.
Former UMaine star Curt Smith is expected to hook on with some organization, while Cather also has improved his draft stock considerably.
Smith recently capped his senior season by earning the America East Player of the Year award. The first baseman/outfielder led the Bears with a .403 batting average, 71 hits, 11 home runs and 60 runs scored, along with 37 RBIs and 12 stolen bases this spring.
He also had a .722 slugging percentage and a .498 on-base percentage.
“The Houston Astros have been really interested in him,” Trimper said.
Cather had another solid season for UMaine in 2008, batting .328 with three homers, 25 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
“I think Billy probably will get drafted. I don’t know if he’ll sign,” said Trimper, who explained Cather has drawn attention because of his speed in the outfield and his solid hitting.
McAvoy, who hit .301 this spring with two homers and 25 RBIs, may wind up being drafted after his senior season.
Trimper has also been concerned about the draft potential of three incoming recruits, pitchers Keith Bilodeau and A.J. Bazdanes, along with outfielder Taylor Lewis.
However, his worries have abated in recent days.
“Their draft status has gone way down,” Trimper explained. “They have advertised, in talking with the scouts, that they want to go to college. Either they will get drafted late or they might not get drafted at all.”
Trimper said those prospects’ commitment to attending UMaine to get an education and gain more baseball experience will reduce the likelihood of their being drafted in the more lucrative early rounds.
NEIBA All-Star Game set June 14
Smith and Joe Miller are among several players and coaches with Maine ties who will play in the annual New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association All-Star Game scheduled for June 14.
The contest will begin at noon at Fenway Park in Boston.
Smith was a first-team pick, while Miller, who had a strong season on the mound for the Black Bears after transferring from Division I High Point (N.C.), earned a spot on the second team.
The contest, which pits the region’s Division I standouts (University Division) against a team of Division II and Division III stars (College Division), also features Luke Enman of Saint Joseph’s College in Standish and two former UMaine players.
Junior catcher Frank Pesanello of Northeastern University and senior righthander John Tesseyman of Central Connecticut State will play alongside Smith and Miller.
Also among the honorees is Dartmouth College head coach Bob Whalen, who for several years was an assistant coach under John Winkin at UMaine. Whalen was named the NEIBA Division I Coach of the Year, leading the Big Green to a 25-17 record, an Ivy League runner-up finish and the No. 1 Division ranking in New England.
The University Division leads the series 21-10-1, but the College Division won 2-0 last year.
The righthanded Miller (5-2) led the Bears in wins and posted a 3.93 earned run average. He allowed 48 hits and struck out 46 in 55 innings, registering three shutouts.
Enman, a senior shortstop for the Monks, was a second-team choice after batting .368 with seven homers, 41 RBIs, 46 runs scored and 11 stolen bases.
Second-team selection Pesanello set a Northeastern record with 20 home runs this season and led the team with 51 RBIs while batting .278. Tesseyman, a first-teamer, posted an 8-3 record with a 2.88 ERA. He walked only 14 batters in 93 2/3 innings.
UM signs Bond – Jessica Bond
Jessica Bond, a defenseman from Namur, Quebec, has committed to play hockey for UMaine starting in the fall.
Bond was a captain last season for Cheminots St. Jerome, where she recorded 10 goals and 20 assists. She also played for Team Quebec in the Canadian Championships in 2005 and 2006.
“Jessica brings added size and skill to our blue line,” said Bears coach Dan Lichterman. “Her poise with the puck and her ability to read situations will be a big asset to our team.”
Bond is a nationally ranked javelin thrower in Canada and also plans to compete on the UMaine track and field team.
All commitments are contingent upon admission to UMaine and compliance with NCAA initial eligibility guidelines.