Suns sign John Kinne, 3 veterans for baseball season
PITTSFIELD -- Four members of the 2013 Pittsfield Suns will be familiar with their surroundings at Wahconah Park.
One Berkshire County collegian and three members of the inaugural Suns team will be suiting up for first-year manager Tom Conley this summer.
John Kinne of Great Barrington, a freshman at Columbia University, has signed on to play for the Suns this summer. He will be joining infielders Chad Funkhouser and Rob McLam, along with pitcher Jason Condit, as old hands when it comes to the old ballpark on Wahconah Street.
Kinne did not play his senior year at Monument Mountain as he recovered from elbow surgery. Conley said he's excited to have the former Spartan shortstop on his roster.
"I think it'll be good to have local guys who know the area. They can hopefully make friends on the team and show [the other players] around a bit," said Conley. "Even the guys who were here last year, they can even teach me a thing or two."
Kinne, a former All-Eagle MVP at shortstop for veteran Spartan coach Tom Hankey, is part of a seven-player freshman class recruited by Columbia coach Brett Boretti. Two of Boretti's Columbia players, Dario Pizzano and Pat Lowery, were selected in the first 25 rounds of last year's MLB First Year Player Draft.
"He was our first or second signing we had this off-season," Suns general manager Kevin McGuire said of Kinne. "I'm thrilled to have him here. It's been one of my personal goals to get a Berkshire County kid.
"This is a community team, and to have someone from the community is great. He's going to be a very good player for us."
The three returning Suns players were all key cogs for Jamie Keefe, last year's manager.
Funkhouser, who came to Pittsfield after completing his freshman season at Brevard (N.C.) College, led the Suns with a .317 batting average. He only played in 29 games because of injury.
McLam, a teammate of the new Suns' manager at the University of Massachusetts, hit .256 and made only seven errors moving between second base and shortstop. He played in 50 of his team's 52 games.
Condit, a right-hander from Illinois Central, pitched in 11 games and started four. He had a 3-2 record and a 2.70 earned-run average.
The Suns, for the most part, have their roster firmed up for the 2013 Futures League season. Summer college league teams tend to lose players during the spring because of injury, academics or personal reasons.
But with the lineup that former manager Jamie Keefe helped put together as he left for a University of Massachusetts-Lowell assistant coaching position, this year's team seems more solid.
That's because there are 19 Division I players on the roster compared to 13 on the team at the end of 2012. The late arrival of the Suns into the Futures League put the team at a disadvantage, since a great deal of the recruiting for the next summer is done in the fall. Despite being behind the 8-ball a bit, the Suns still finished 27-25 and just missed making the Futures League playoffs.
"Last year was kind of a scramble and I think Jamie did a great job with the time constraints that he had," said McGuire. "We set a goal to get many more D-I players and we did that. Every year, we'll look to increase that until we're all D-I."
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