Here is a position by position preview for the 2011 Watertown Wizards. The Wizards, proud members of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League are looking to rebound from a 2010 season where they missed the playoffs. The Wizards will be part of the Western Division of the PGCBL with Newark, Cooperstown and Elmira. The Eastern Division will consist of Amsterdam, Albany, Glens Falls and Mohawk Valley.
The Wizards have some familiar faces behind the plate this summer. Larry Balkwill (Siena College, Detroit Tigers Draftee) and Kevin Whitehead (Canisius College) both were part of the 2010 club. Local standout AJ Capone (St. Rose) joins the returning duo.
Wizards GM Todd Kirkey, “We feel good about our catchers. Larry and Kevin are familiar with our organization and both give us power on both sides of the plate. Larry has battled some injuries but should be good to go. Kevin is a guy that is just touching is potential; if he figures it out with us we could be in for a great summer with him. AJ had a good year at St. Rose becoming their number one guy. He also has experience with wood which should help him. Each guy brings a little something different to the team and we like the three guys we are bringing in.”
Angel Rosa (Alcorn St.), Alexis Maldonado (Holy Cross), Jake Mcguiggan (Harvard University), Pat Talbut (St. Johns), Kaleb Barlow (Chipola JC, Colorado Rockies draftee), Kody O’Connor (Lemoyne U.) and Scott Carcaise (Elon College) make up the Wizards infield for 2011.
“This is a very talented group of players”, state Watertown GM Todd Kirkey. “Maldonado, Rosa and Mcguiggan all played every day for their teams at shortstop. These three will make up the middle of the infield and we should be able to keep them all fresh. We really couldn’t tell who is the everyday starter or standout here and that does not bother us. All three will get plenty of action and plenty of reps.”
“We expect a lot out of our corner infielders offensively. All of these guys are top of the order guys at their schools. Talbut has been a surprise at St. Johns and is a really good runner and he can play outfield as well. Barlow has a ton of upside and had a great season at Junior College powerhouse Chipola. O’Conner and Carcaise will form a left/right option at First Base and will see time at Designated Hitter. I love our infield, we expect to be among the best infields in the PGCBL” stated Wizards GM Todd Kirkey.
Kevin Stenhouse (Rhode Island), Brandon Cipolla (Holy Cross), Chris Gruarin (Canisius) and Eric Gaylord (Campbell) form the Wizards outfield for 2011.
“This is a quick group of outfielders. Cipolla, Gruarin and Gaylord are all good runners. Stenhouse is more of a right fielder type with size and power. The parks in our division are all big with the exception of Cooperstown. With that said, we wanted to get guys who could cover some ground out there. Offensively, all of these guys are good contact hitters and should steal some bases for us. Gruarin and Stenhouse have some pop as well and should be able to slug for us.”
As with any ball club, it usually comes down to the pitching staff. Vincent Roberts (Cal St. Northridge), Justin Wiley (Iona College), Scott Whitehead (Canisius), Rob Curran (Rhode Island), Rick Christopher (Niagara U.), Anthony Buonopane (Furman), Tim Sylvester (St. John Fisher), Josh Cox (St. John Fisher), Travis Higgs (Chipola), Robert Rogers (Keystone College) and Adam Krebs (Keystone College) make up this summers’ pitching staff.
“Roberts, Wiley, Higgs and Rogers look solid as our front four. This certainly could change but they are aces at their respective schools and we are confident they will be solid guys for us in the rotation. Whitehead could be the fifth guy. Buonopane, Curran and Cox could also vie for a rotation spot. With six games a week for most of the summer, we could use a six man rotation and these guys will give Coach Shone plenty of options.”
Sylvester and Krebs will make up the back end of the bullpen. Christopher is a recent addition and could fit into the back end of the bullpen as well. “Sylvester was a dominant closer for Coach Brandon Potter at St. John Fisher. Krebs was a combination closer, set-up guy at Keystone who played in the Division III World Series. Their experience in these roles should fill out our staff at the end of games.”
The Wizards open up the season on June 9th, a Thursday 7:00pm start at the Alex. T. Duffy Fairgrounds. Check out the Wizards online at www.watertownwizards.com.