Picking the dream pitching staff
Let's play fantasy baseball -- Long Island high school-style.
We know that pitching wins championships, so we'll stick to that. Our starting rotation will consist of five live arms that can go out and give us quality innings before we go to a bullpen that also is loaded with talent.
Our ace is Patchogue-Medford junior Matt Vogel, a 6-foot, 175-pound preseason All-American selection who has verbally committed to Division I powerhouse South Carolina.
Vogel, a righthander with a 90-plus-mph fastball, slider and changeup, was 9-1 with a 0.34 ERA as a sophomore. He is a power pitcher who struck out 103 in 61 innings. "This is the guy you want on the mound in a big game," Patchogue-Medford coach Tony Frascogna said. "And he's the guy you want on the mound to close a game. He has that winning mentality. He's so tough and so competitive."
With an arm like Vogel's leading the way, it's no wonder that Patchogue-Medford will compete for the Suffolk League I title.
We value a top-heavy rotation, and an intimidating lefthander, Holy Trinity senior Alex Robinson, will be in our second spot. Robinson has a 90-plus-mph fastball and threw a no-hitter against St. Anthony's last season, striking out 17. He finished with a 6-1 record and a 1.40 ERA and had 70 strikeouts in 40 innings. The University of Maryland is getting a top-notch lefty in the 6-3, 220-pounder.
Robinson is the reason teams should fear the Titans in the CHSAA. "He can bear down and get anyone out in any spot," Holy Trinity coach Bob Malandro said. "He makes it easy to coach. Just sit back and watch the kid get it done."
Vogel and Robinson can be an outstanding righty-lefty combo to open a series. They are effectively wild and confident enough to pitch inside and keep hitters uncomfortable. No one wants to face either in a one-game elimination.
To add versatility to this staff, we'll include a pitcher with pinpoint control, a knee-buckling curveball and a blur of a heater.
To get over the hump in the middle of a five-game series, our third starter is a bulldog in Shoreham-Wading River senior righthander Michael O'Reilly.
The 5-11, 180-pounder is a big-game pitcher with a full repertoire of pitches. He was 9-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 57 innings as a junior, and the first-team All-Long Island selection led Shoreham to the Suffolk Class A title. He has accepted a scholarship to play at Flagler College in Florida.
"He's a throwback player," Shoreham-Wading River coach Sal Mignano said. "He gives you everything each time he goes out there. He's a leader that always gets the job done."
Our fourth starter can take the bite out of any lineup: Senior lefthander Tyler Manez, a 6-1, 180-pounder from Plainedge and a Newsday All-Long Island second-team selection. He struck out 81 batters in 41 innings and had a 6-1 record. Manez fanned more than 10 hitters in a game six times as the Red Devils earned the Nassau Conference A-III title.
"We went undefeated through the regular season for the first time in school history," Plainedge coach Tom Pisani said. "He was so dominant."
Elon University in North Carolina is getting a great one in Manez.
Our rotation is punctuated with another hard-throwing righthander in 5-10, 190-pound senior Alex Katz of Herricks. Anyone who could strike out 15 and throw a one-hitter against MacArthur can pitch here. Katz struck out 49 batters in 23 2/3 innings and will take a 90-plus- mph fastball to St. John's.
With the rotation in place, it's important to fill the bullpen with battle-tested pitchers to get people out in pressure situations.
Holy Trinity senior righthander Anthony Rosati, a 6-2, 195-pounder, has a closer's mentality. His 90-plus-mph fastball and aggressive demeanor are perfect for this spot. He's headed to St. John's in the fall.
The rest of our staff is loaded with talent from the right and left sides. Pencil in Oyster Bay senior Joe Siringo, North Shore senior Cody Johnson, Chaminade junior Dan Caniano, Elmont junior Danny Aguilo, Ward Melville junior Anthony Kay, St. John the Baptist junior Greg Egan, Riverhead junior Matt Crohan, Smithtown East senior Justin Cusano, Hauppauge senior C.J. Schildt, Massapequa senior Ryan McCormack and South Side senior Christian Colletti.
Five aces and a stacked bullpen. With this pitching staff, we might go undefeated.
Ah, every coach's dream.