05/31/2008 9:29 AM
Cotuit Kettleers 2008 Season Preview
It’s All about the Speed at Cotuit,
Where Kettleers Hope to Run to Glory
COTUIT, Mass. -- The Cotuit Kettleers are committed to making a run at the 2008 Cape Cod Baseball League championship after an injury-plagued 2007 season.
One of the Kettleers’ few bright spots last year was their team speed. Cotuit led the league in stolen bases and plans to be running again this year.
“We build our team around speed,” said General Manager Bruce Murphy. “In the Cape League, hits don’t roll off the wooden bats like they do the aluminum ones most college kids are used to.
“Stealing bases keeps it interesting for the fans” and teaches the draft-hopeful players the running game, Murphy said.
Entering his fifth season as Cotuit’s field manager, Mike Roberts is “one of the last to teach the running game,” Murphy said. “He’s energetic … the players like him.”
With incoming players with a history of stolen bases, the team looks ready to run. Tyler Ladendorf (Howard Junior College), a shortstop with quick feet and a top draft-eligible player, had stolen 24 bases in 25 attempts when when last we looked. Infielder Evan Crawford (Indiana) had managed 11, center-fielder Brett Jackson (Cal Berkeley) was leading his college team with 14 successful steals and infielder Dallas Poulk (North Carolina State) also brings speed to the diamond with five thefts in eight tries.
The Kettleers’ 2008 pitching staff looks promising. Kevin Castner (Cal Poly), a sophomore right-hander, can bring the heat with pitches in the mid-90s. Left-hander Matt Fairel (Florida State) looks good with an 8-1 record for the top-ranked Seminoles, and Michael Leake (Arizona State) brings a 6-1 record and 62 strikeouts into the mix.
Returning from last season is CCBL All-Star catcher/pitcher Robert Stock (Southern California), who is hitting .331 and has two saves under his belt as a relief pitcher.
“Last year was a difficult season,” Murphy lamented. “Kids came in bumped and bruised. I felt like a MASH doctor, with all the injuries. It was frustrating for everyone.”
He hopes the Kettleers can steer clear of injuries this season, but he admitted it’s part of the game. “There’s no down time,” he said, referring to the lack of a gap between the players’ spring college seasons and the Cape League’s early start. Players start arriving on June 5, and the Kettleers open their season just nine days later, on June 14, against the visiting Brewster Whitecaps at Lowell Park.
The Kettleers have helped develop many past and present Major Leaguers, including Ryan Braun (Royals), Kevin Jarvis (Red Sox), Andy Cannizaro (Yankees), Braden Looper (Cardinals) and Garrett Atkins (Rockies).
Ashley Crosby, CCBL Intern ([email protected])