After finishing in last place in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League last summer, manager Rob Cafiero seemed optimistic about the new crop of talent coming to Southampton this time around.
While the rosters continued to be shuffled as a result of the college postseason, which is still in progress, Cafiero highlighted a couple of kids he’s excited about for the Breakers’ upcoming season.
Kyle Smith, a product of 10th-ranked Vanderbilt, will be coming in as an infielder once his college season is concluded. James Darcy, an Australian native who plays at Campbell University in North Carolina, will headline the pitching rotation. Finally, Longwood High School product Rob Moore will be joining the team after playing for the now defunct Center Moriches team last season; he batted .271 with five homers and 28 RBIs as an outfielder for the Battlecats.
“We’re excited to have Rob come play for us this year,” said Cafiero. “He can play second base or the outfield, and he really hurt us last season, so it’s good to have him here.”
Southampton finished with a 14-26 record in 2013 and look to change those losing ways with a totally new roster this year. Although last season was marred by the lack of late-game relief pitching, the fifth-year manager said he still has his sights on getting the players the proper number of at-bats and innings pitched for their college coaches.
“These kids’ college coaches want them to come here and get the at-bats and the innings pitched that they couldn’t get during the year, so I hope to fulfill that,” Cafiero said, adding, “But we also want to win some games.”
The Breakers open their season on June 1 in Sag Harbor at 5 p.m., and their first home game will be Wednesday, June 4, against Westhampton.
After finishing the 2013 summer as co-regular season champs in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, the Whalers have a new man running the show. St. John’s volunteer assistant coach Danny Benedetti takes over this season for Brendan Monaghan and welcomes the addition of former Tampa Bay Rays reliever Rob Delaney as pitching coach.
“I came here to win, plain and simple. I’m straight to the point,” Benedetti said.
Leading the Whalers is catcher Dan Rizzie, who returns from last season. The Xavier sophomore garnered All-Big East first team honors with a .309 batting average. Lipscomb University infielder Hunter Hanks, who batted .276 and drove in 15 RBIs in his freshman year, also is on his radar.
Joining Rizzie as a returner is Sag Harbor native Brandon Kruel, who just finished up his junior season at C.W. Post. Georgia State outfielder James Clements also will be back for the Whalers, as well as Wake Forest infielder Aaron Smith.
One thing Benedetti keyed in on is pitch counts. He said he is very aware of the numbers, something he picked up while coaching in the Northwoods League in the Midwest. In the bullpen, he likely will look to Jason Foley as his closer. Foley hails from North Bellmore and split time between reliever and starter in his freshman year at Sacred Heart.
Another pitcher Benedetti said he is intrigued with is Tyler Manez, a 32nd-round draft pick of the Houston Astros. Manez, a Massapequa native, just finished up his sophomore year at Elon University.
“My job as the head coach and us as a staff is to make sure these kids come out better prepared than they did in the start of the summer,” said Benedetti. “But I also want to make it clear to them that we want to win the league.”
Sag Harbor opens the season vs. Southampton at 5 p.m. at Mashashimuet Park on Sunday, June 1.