Triple play: Fordham baseball trio sign D-I
A five-tool player, Andrew Velazquez had plenty of big-time baseball suitors. There were College World Series regulars like Vanderbilt, LSU and Louisville. But the Fordham Prep senior found a home in Blacksburg, Virginia.
On Friday, the standout shortstop signed with Virginia Tech, one of three Fordham Prep players to ink National Letters of Intent to Division I schools.
“When I went to visit, it’s big-time football and [some of] that revenue goes to baseball, the weight room, they have one of the best hitting facilities I’ve seen, on the campus it just feels like family,” Velazquez said. “I felt like I fit in and it’s a place I feel I can play right away.”
On Friday, Velazquez was joined by first baseman Jack Sexton, who is heading to Holy Cross and Furman-bound pitcher Steve Fondu, a rare Division I trifecta for a New York City school.
“It doesn’t happen too often,” Fordham Prep coach Pat Deane said. “We’ve been pretty blessed here at Fordham as far as the kids we’ve been getting. To perform at the highest level in terms of athletics is a credit to them with the rigorous academic schedule…To have three kids going to schools like that makes my job a lot easier.”
Velazquez, who was a centerfielder for the Rams last spring, spent most of the summer impressing scouts, pro and college alike, with his ability at shortstop. It’s where he believes he can play on the next level and Velazquez might find that out sooner than later. The powerful 5-foot-10 switch-hitter has a good shot at being drafted in June, but first he’ll be Mr. Everything for the Rams in the spring.
“Players like that don’t come around too often,” Deane said. “He’s got all the tools for everyone to see – he has the speed, the power, can hit for average, he can throw, run and catch. He can play short, center, catches. We might even have him relief pitch this year because he has a cannon for an arm.”
Sexton drew interest from Division I programs West Virginia, Maryland, Air Force and Fordham, but he found the perfect combination of athletics and academics in Worcester, Mass.
“I loved the academic part of the school,” he said of Holy Cross. “It’s a very rich tradition there and athletically it’s everything I was looking for. I love the coaches and the facilities are beautiful. I’m really psyched to get up there.”
Being recruited as a first baseman was also an important factor for Sexton.
“The other schools were thinking of keeping me in the outfield or having me DH a bit, but that’s also why I liked Holy Cross a lot because they wanted me to come in and play first,” he said.
Deane has been impressed with Sexton since he arrived in Rose Hill, transferring from a public school in Connecticut and had to sit out his sophomore season.
“He knew he wasn’t going to play, but never missed a practice, never missed a game,” Deane said. “It was a credit to him. We knew how involved he wanted to be, what his dedication was.”
Steve Fondu didn’t need to go down to Greenville, S.C, although he did. All he needed to know about the baseball program and the school at Furman University was speak to his older brother Rob, a former centerfielder for the Paladins.
“I was able to ask him how he liked, how’s the school itself outside of the baseball program,” Steve said. “He said he loved it and we’re similar so it’s an easy choice.”
Steve Fondu said Elon and Fordham started to show interest recently, but he loved everything about Furman, which aggressively recruited him.
“It’s a gorgeous campus,” he said. “I love the people down there and the hospitality down there is great. Southern hospitality really is true. The coach is a really nice guy and they really want to win.”
Fondu, who was recruited as a pitcher but also plays in the Fordham Prep outfield, said it was also helpful to lean on former Regis standout Jake Kinsley, a freshman catcher, for advise.
“He’s from the city so I was able to ask him about it,” Fondu said. “He said he loves it, the teachers are great and he loves the South and of course, the warm weather now.”
Before each player moves on to their collegiate careers, there’s some unfinished business in terms of their high school careers.
“There’s some pressure. Last year we fell a little short, but it happens,” Deane said. “To have all these guys back and what’s coming up from the JV, we’re pretty excited.”
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