It is still four weeks away, but the buzz has started for the upcoming Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League season. The Riverhead Tomcats will open the season against the North Fork Ospreys on June 4 at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic.
This summer the five-team Hamptons Collegiate Baseball Kaiser Division rosters will have more than 120 players from over 70 colleges throughout the country.
“We are thrilled to once again bring free family entertainment to the East End of Long Island this summer,” the HCB president, Rusty Leaver, said. “With players hailing from top collegiate baseball programs, we’re excited about having these future major league stars put their skills on display for the East End this summer.”
Several of the incoming student/athletes are off to sizzling starts to their college seasons, including Cody Slaughter of the Tomcats, who is batting .389 for Brown. The Tomcats’ roster will also feature Farmingdale State College infielder Kevin Curtis of Riverhead, Temple University pitcher Jimmy Powers of Riverhead, Stony Brook University pitcher Thor Miller of Miller Place, Adelphi University pitcher Chris Pabisch, C.W. Post infielder Casey McKay, St. John’s University catcher Mike Lonsdale, along with players from the University of Southern Mississippi, Villanova University, Harvard University, the University of North Carolina Wilmington and St. Peter’s College.
“We’ve got a brand-new 25-man roster,” Tomcats General Manager Bob Furlong said. “We will play a good, quality brand of baseball. Some of these kids will be on their way to the major leagues someday.”
The Tomcats went 22-18 in their inaugural season and will be managed this season by Randy Caden, who is now in his 10th season as the coach at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. Caden said he wants to play “a very aggressive style of baseball.”
“I’m the most aggressive coach you have ever seen,” he said. “We’ll go to the other team’s weakness. We’ll play smart baseball. We’ll hit and run and bunt. We’ll play small ball.”
Furlong said he expects the Tomcats will make some “minor tweaks” this season.
“There are always growing pains when you are trying to get your feet on the ground,” he said. “We’re going to streamline some things. We want to polish our game-day product. We’re trying to establish a brand in the community … develop a community identity.”
Furlong said the Tomcats are looking for host families for their players. Anyone interested may call Furlong at (631) 325-1213 or Tony Sammartano at (631) 767-8206.
The Tomcats will hold an orientation meeting on June 1. The season will begin three days later.
One of the early keys, Furlong said, is establishing the workload of the pitchers.
“We’ll talk with the players and their college coaches to see what they want us to work on,” he said. “Some of the younger college players will see more time here than they did all season in college. We want to help them continue to develop.”
“The only way to win is to be team-oriented,” he said. “I’m not shy and I won’t let the kids be shy. I’ll bring out their communication skills. I’d like to win, but we’re best served if we try and fine-tune their skill set and help them get to the next level. They will get better by listening and helping each other … and that leads to winning. This will be fun and exciting, but also a learning experience.”