Bravehearts Announce 2020 Roster of Locals
In six seasons, the Worcester Bravehearts have consistently built championship-caliber rosters in the Futures League by recruiting some of the most talented baseball players in Central MA. Players like Ian Strom of Hopedale, Zack Tower of Auburn, Ryan Ward of Millbury and Mariano & Dante Ricciardi of West Boylston have been key contributors to the Bravehearts success since 2014. Today the team announced a slate of 14 local players who will attempt to defend the team's 2019 championship when the season begins May 27.
Six of the fourteen local players are returners from last year's team that won 30 regular season games and defeated the Pittsfield Suns, Brockton Rox, and Bristol Blues on the way to the organization's fourth championship. Holden residents Jack Gardner (Saint John's H.S.), P.J. Barry (Saint Peter-Marian H.S.), and Brendan Case (Wachusett Regional HS) are all slated to return. Gardner is a junior at Morehead State in Kentucky while Barry is a redshirt sophomore at Saint Leo University in Florida. Gardner- a catcher - was an accomplished high school player for Saint John's, earning the Telegram and Gazette Player of the Year award and being named to the All-State Massachusetts team. He also won the Super 8 Championship his senior year. Barry is an outfielder for the Saint Leo Lions and has a career batting average of .267 in 43 games with 23 starts. He was a three-year All-Conference honoree and two-year Central Massachusetts Super Team selection at Saint Peter Marian High School and finished his career with 108 hits, a .403 batting average and 53 stolen bases. Case, a redshirt senior relief pitcher for Salem University in West Virginia, is a graduate of Wachusett Regional High School. His junior year there, he helped lead Wachusett to a Super 8 Tournament appearance. Last season, he pitched extremely well for the Bravehearts out of the bullpen and gave up only 3 runs and 8 hits in 13 appearances.
Leicester-resident Jack Steele (Worcester Academy) will return to the starting rotation for the Bravehearts in 2020. Steele, a sophomore at UMass-Amherst, started 7 games for the Bravehearts last season, logging 33 innings and a 4.86 ERA. He may be best-remembered for his gutsy performance to start Game 1 of the 2019 FCBL Championship. On less than 24-hours notice, he turned in his best performance of the season, going 5.1 scoreless innings in a crucial 2-1 Bravehearts victory. Steele also won the 2017 Central New England Prep School Baseball League Championship at Worcester Academy.
If returning third baseman Aidan Wilde (Milford HS) seems comfortable with the coaches, it is because he is. Not only was Alex Dion his coach last summer, but Dion was also Wilde's high school coach where Wilde put up amazing numbers. He hit .476 in 235 total high school at-bats, including a senior year in which he finished with a .509 average and .645 on base percentage. Wilde is one of the very few players to actually hit a ball over the fence at Milford's Fino Field, a distance of over 400 feet. Wilde was voted the NE10 Rookie Hitter of the Year his freshman year, and was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason All-East Region first team prior to this season, his sophomore year at Stonehill College.
Another key returning player is Shrewsbury's Nick Martin (Shrewsbury HS). The outfielder is a junior at Westfield State and was a part of the 2017 Shrewsbury Legion Post 397 team that won the American Legion Northeast Regional. Last summer he hit .276 while playing five different positions for the Bravehearts.
The Bravehearts are bolstering their pitching staff with seven local arms. Shrewsbury's Kevin Hummer (Shrewsbury H.S. / Western New England) and John West (Shrewsbury H.S. / Boston College), Grafton's Carson Hauben (St. John's H.S. / Rollins College), Marlborough's Hunter Reynolds (Marlborough H.S. / Franklin Pierce), Auburn's Coleman Picard (Auburn H.S. / Hartford), Ashland's Alex Amalfi (Ashland H.S. / UMass-Boston), and Worcester's-own Tim O'Connor (Worcester Academy / Denison University) will all join the team this summer.
Kevin Hummer was named First Team MidWach Conference and Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association All-Central Team as a junior and senior at Shrewsbury High School. The right-hander is currently a junior at Western New England University and has pitched 75 innings in his college career, notching a record of 7-5. John West is a current senior at Shrewsbury High School where he has also starred on the basketball court. The towering 6-foot-8 right-hander went 3-2 with a 0.87 ERA and 45 strikeouts last year. He was selected to the Telegram & Gazette Super Team in both sports in 2019. He plans to attend Boston College in the fall.
Grafton-native Carson Hauben had already pitched in 8 games - starting 5 of them - as a freshman at Rollins College in Florida before his season was suspended. He had a 4.38 ERA and a record of 3-2 this season. In high school, he helped the St. John's Pioneers win the 2017 1A Super 8 State Championship. All three pitchers also played for the Shrewsbury Post 397 American Legion Team- a team that once had Nick Martin and Jack Gardner as well.
Hunter Reynolds is a freshman right-handed pitcher at Franklin Pierce University. In his first six appearances for the Ravens, Reynolds had pitched 7.2 innings with 10 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.35. He played football, basketball, and baseball at Marlborough High School. Coleman Picard is a 6-foot-1 righty from Auburn who was also the starting goalie for the Auburn soccer team. His career record stands at 10-2 with a 1.42 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 41.1 innings pitched. He'll attend the University of Hartford in the fall.
Alex Amalfi compiled a 13-5 record at Ashland High School with an ERA of 2.05 in three seasons pitching for the Clockers. He also was a leader of the Ashland Legion Post 77 team and pitched a complete game victory last July against Shrewsbury Post 397 in the MA state tournament. He also played hockey for Ashland, where he was a two-time Tri-Valley League All-Star. The freshman at UMass-Boston had not yet pitched for the Beacons when his season was suspended.
Southpaw Tim O'Connor will spend the summer at home in Worcester. The former Worcester Academy ace - and honor student - is currently a freshman at Denison University in Ohio, where he had pitched in 5 games with an ERA of 4.50 before the season suspension. Last April, O'Connor threw a no-hitter for Worcester Academy against Pingree and will rejoin Hilltoppers teammate Jack Steele on the Bravehearts pitching staff.
The Bravehearts have also signed Westborough-resident Jordan Kjoniksen (Lawrence Academy), who is a freshman outfielder at Army West Point. While attending Lawrence Academy, he was a two-time All-Independent School League Award winner, and in 2018 he won the Independent School League batting title.
These players will open the 2020 Worcester Bravehearts season on Wednesday May 27th at home against the New Britain Bees. Season Tickets, 5-Game Plans, and Group Outings are now available by calling the Bravehearts box office at 508-438-3773. All single-game tickets go on sale April 25th.
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