In an ordinary summer, West Virginia would have some 10-15 of its baseball players on collegiate summer league teams. This, of course, is no ordinary summer.
With the COVID-19 pandemic cutting short 2020 baseball seasons at all levels, the vast majority of Mountaineers are slated to play in those summer leagues which are resuming action in late June and July. The reasons for the increase in numbers is a simple one – getting those players experience and work to help them prepare for the 2021 season after their 2020 seasons ended prematurely.
The task of getting everyone placed was a difficult one. A number of leagues that were mainstays for Mountaineers in the past, such as the Cape Cod, New England, Cal Ripken and Prospect Leagues, canceled their 2020 seasons altogether. Others decided to play, such as the Florida Collegiate Summer League, but changed their structures, adding new teams and divisions, including one open to all applicants and another which filled its rosters by invitation only. A third group consisted of some leagues cobbled together from existing teams that decided to play, or were formed from the ground up, such as the Northern Virginia Collegiate League.
Another layer of complexity was added by the fact that a number of current and incoming Mountaineers were already slotted into leagues which ended up canceling their 2020 seasons, necessitating another scramble for placement.
“Some players have been scheduled in four leagues,” WVU assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Steve Sabins noted, highlighting just how complex the process has been. “It’s been extremely difficult. (Our numbers) are even higher than normal because we want our kids back on the field.”
While the potential for last minute changes and shuffles always exists, approximately 30 current or incoming Mountaineers are slotted into summer league positions. While their play is always monitored and tracked by the WVU coaching staff, this year there’s even more anticipation after the season was cut short at the 16 game mark.
“We are very excited to start watching live streams and seeing box scores with Mountaineers in there,” Sabins stated.
Safety for players in the summer leagues, both from the COVID-19 and competitive standpoint, is also front and center. Pitch counts are enforced in most leagues, many are not allowing fans, and social distancing is extending to players in the dugouts and at game sites.
Following is a list of WVU players currently scheduled in summer leagues. As always, there can be changes as situations dictate. Several players not participating in organized leagues are working out on their own or with small groups this summer.
Ben Abernathy – Florida Collegiate Summer League
Braden Barry – Florida Collegiate Summer League
William Bean – Northern Virginia Collegiate League
Ryan Bergert – Northwoods League
Nathan Blasick – South Florida Collegiate League
Alec Burns – Northwoods League
Hudson Byorick – West Coast League
Austin Davis – Florida Collegiate Summer League
Tyler DeMartino – Northern Virginia Collegiate League
Dominic Fagazzo – Northern Virginia Collegiate League
Ben Hampton – Northwoods League
McGwire Holbrook – Florida Collegiate Summer League
Vince Ippoliti – Texas Collegiate League
Madison Jeffrey – Florida Collegiate Summer League
Chris Klein – Florida Collegiate Summer League
Michael Kluska – Smokey Mountain Collegiate League
Carter Lyles – Northwoods League
Matt McCormick – Northwoods League
Zach Ottinger – Sunbelt League
Carlson Reed – Sunbelt League
Hunter Rosenbaum – Northwoods League
Victor Scott – Northwoods League
Trevor Sharp – Valley League
Jimmy Starnes – Piedmont League
Tyler Strechay – Northwoods League
Tevin Tucker – Northwoods League
Tim Wynia – 5 Tool League
Braden Zarbnisky – Sunbelt League