A Few Items to Pass Along...

by Dave B. in

There will be a father and son in uniform for Brewster this summer. J.J. Altobelli is a sophomore infielder from Oregon. His father, John, is the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College and he will be an assistant on Tom Myers staff with the Whitecaps. Anyone know who was the last father-son combo to be in the Cape League at the same time? Here is an interesting tidbit that my son brought to my attention:  Team USA will not use a Trials process to pick their team this summer. Instead, they will offer their invitations based on a players performance during the college season. Here is part of the statement from the USA Baseball website (www.usabaseball.com):  "Beginning in 2011, USA Baseball will select its Collegiate National Team based on its Professional Teams selection model. The player pool will primarily be comprised of non-draft-eligible college players. Under certain circumstances, draft-eligible players and players under control with one of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs may be considered for selection to the team. Trials will no longer be utilized to select the team. Players will be named to the 22-man roster on data from 2010 and/or the 2011 college baseball season." Apparently this is not a decision that was made recently since the article goes on to say that a committee has been meeting since November to review possible candidates. The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will assemble on June 22 and the last day to report will be July 2. Although no invitees are listed on the Team USA roster at this time, righthanded pitcher Michael Wacha (Texas A&M) who is on Orleans roster, is known to have received an invitation.

From Team USA's perspective, this makes a lot of sense. They should base their selections on the larger sample size of the college baseball season rather than a players performance in a few intra-squad games during a trial. I think they likely picked their teams based a lot on reputation anyway, so this is probably just a way of making the process official. I can't imagine that a player with a great resume, who has shown what he can do over 60 or so games, wouldn't make the team just because he might have a bad or unlucky two or three days during the trials. (Thanks for the tip, Brian!)

Went to the first game of the Clemson-Boston College doubleheader last Saturday. Scott Firth (Hyannis) pitched for Clemson and did not fare well. Firth lasted only 2.1 innings and gave up 5 hits, a walk, and 3 runs (2 earned) in a game that Clemson went on to win, 7-5. Despite this tough outing, Firth has pitched well for the Tigers this spring. He is 3-0 with a 3.21 ERA. Firth has a subpar 24/21 strikeout-to-walk ratio but opponents are hitting just .205 off him. At 6'0", 165 lbs., Firth does not look like he will overpower many batters. I have to cut Firth some slack. For a finesse pitcher, Saturday was a brutal day to be on the mound. Temps hovered around 45 degrees and the wind was gusting to 30 mph. On a day that was much more conducive to the Eagles spring football game that was going on behind us, it had to be difficult for a pitcher to have any feel for the ball. Spencer Kieboom (Falmouth) started at catcher for Clemson and singled in four trips to the plate. Kieboom has started 27 of Clemson's 35 games and is batting .360 with 22 RBI to go along with an impressive .455 OBP. Another Tiger expected to come to the Cape this summer is firstbaseman Richie Shaffer (Chatham.) It was a mixed-bag of results for Shaffer in this game. He was 2 for 5 with 2 RBI but he also struckout 3 times. Shaffer doubled in two runs with a line drive over the head of the leftfielder. It was an impressive shot any day, but especially so considering the conditions with the wind  blowing in. A quick impression of Shaffer based on just five at-bats is that he could continue to put up decent power numbers, but there may be some holes in his long swing that could lead to a high strikeout total. Shaffer is among the team leaders in most offensive categories. His .349 avg. is fourth on the team but he is first in homeruns (5), RBI (29) and total bases (72). Shaffer ranks second among the Tigers regulars with 44 hits, a .465 OBP and a slugging pct. of .571.