Local teams preparing for arrival

Sunday, May 24
The college baseball players who will be playing in Berkshire County this summer should be arriving late this week and early next week.

The future Pittsfield American Defenders and North Adams SteepleCats are, for the most part, wrapping up their college seasons this weekend with conference tournaments. As of today, both teams have pretty complete rosters.

"I was expecting to lose more" than two players off the roster, said Defenders general manager Jon Tosches. "A lot could still happen in the next week, but I am surprised."

Both teams have had a couple of players dropped from their 28-player lists due to personal reasons or summer school. But neither Berkshire County team lost a player to injury. Both are waiting to see what happens with the NCAA Division I baseball tournament.

"I haven't seen this since our first year," SteepleCats general manager Sean McGrath said. "We're used to losing seven or eight guys. To lose two is great."

The SteepleCats, however, expect to possibly lose two more players to June's Major League Baseball amateur draft. Outfielder J.D. Martinez of Nova Southeastern University was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 36th round of the 2006 draft, and McGrath said he could be gone in June. Tim Boyce, last year's NECBL pitcher of the year, is slated to return to North Adams. But the junior from the University of Rhode Island could be late because of the NCAA tournament, or could not come because of the draft.

Boyce is sporting a nice 6-2 record and a 5.80 ERA for the Rams, who played Xavier late Saturday for the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament title.

"We could be caught kind of short after the draft," said McGrath. "We expect all the other players to be here."

Both teams could be shorthanded if Kansas advances far in the tournament. The Jayhawks went 0-3 in the Big 12 tournament, but with a 37-22 record, could still receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division I tournament.

"The Kansas players planned on being a little late because they've been a Top 25 team," said Tosches.

Both local teams have KU players on the roster.

The Defenders have four: catcher/outfielder Jimmy Waters, outfielder Casey Lytle and pitchers Colton Murray and Kevin Burk. The SteepleCats have shortstop David Nawrodowski.

Nawrodowski is the Big 12 rookie of the year. The sophomore from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, hit .345 with five home runs and 38 runs batted in.

Lytle was a regular in the Jayhawk outfield and hit .275 with two homers and 23 RBI. Waters had limited action and hit .221.

Murray was 2-3 in 31 relief appearances with a nifty 3.16 ERA.

The SteepleCats, for the first time, have three catchers on the roster. They recently signed Joe Pavone from the University of Connecticut, to go with John Murrian from Winthrop and David Villasuso of Miami. Villasuso, however, had recent dental surgery and could be late.

"The fact of the matter is for the month of June, we could have three catchers," said McGrath, "we could have two or we could have one."

The SteepleCats, meanwhile, have added a pair of infielders — Brandon Macias of South Mountain Community College in Mesa, Ariz., and Bo Reeder of East Tennessee State.

Macias originally signed with Arizona State, but did not stay there. He is a shortstop.

Reeder is a third baseman and a teammate of North Adams' Paul Hoilman.


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