Whether it is in the pro stadiums or on the summer fields, Stony Brook baseball players are making a name for themselves. The two pro draftees, Kevin Krause and Brandon McNitt, are turning out solid rookie seasons in their respective clubs’ farm systems. Meanwhile, 13 current Seawolves took their talents to the wood bats in various summer leagues, ranging from right around the corner in the Hamptons to the opposite coast in California, and then up north to the beautiful state of Alaska.
Sophomore infielder Johnny Caputo and freshmen Toby Handley and Casey Baker were able to take it a step further by making it to their respective leagues’ all-star games.
Caputo took his talents to the Morehead City Marlins of the Coastal Plain League and had a solid season. Caputo went 1-for-2 in the CPL All-Star Game in front of his hometown fans and was even selected to the league’s home run derby. He was not able to escape the first round though, but did not go out without a fight as he sent two bombs over the wall.
Caputo finished the season with a respectable .247 batting average, starting in 40 of the team’s 50 games. He led his team in long balls with five and also drove in the most runs with 26. Though his team did not make the playoffs after finishing the season on a six-game losing streak, he will look to take that run production and power back to Stony Brook as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since their run to Omaha and the CWS in 2012.
Caputo also tried his skills from the other point of view, as he took the ball to pitch for a third of an inning. He walked a batter and struck out one.
Toby Handley finished as one of the most consistent hitters in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, as he produced a .351 average for the Mystic Schooners, which was good for third in the league. He also finished second in runs (28) and doubles (11), while finishing in the top ten in hits (47) and stolen bases (15).
Handley made his name in the league early in the season when he put together a 12-game hitting streak. He did not go more than two games without a hit throughout the summer.
He was not able to produce in the NECBL All-Star Game, though. He was slotted in the leadoff position, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the South’s 4-3 defeat to the North.
The Schooners were able to clinch a postseason berth as the fourth seed in the Southern Division, but were swept by the Plymouth Pilgrims in two games. Handley did not play in the playoffs.
Casey Baker also dazzled with the wooden bat this summer in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League with a .325 batting average, which was good for fifth in the league.
He led the league in hits (49), was eighth in stolen bases (16) and drew 17 walks, good for 15th in the HCBL.
He also proved to be good for a hit almost every game, as he produced three hitting streaks that went at least five games, including one that went ten games and another that went nine.
Baker struggled in the All-Star Game, producing the same exact line as Handley, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
He also led his team, the North Fork Ospreys, to the playoffs as the fourth seed. But they were also swept in two games by the top seed and eventual champions, the Southampton Breakers.
Some players are slated to make the transition from the college summer fields to the pro diamonds as Stony Brook had two names called on MLB Draft Weekend.
The first name called was Kevin Krause’s, as he was picked in the ninth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was sent to the club’s Class A Short Season affiliate, the Jamestown Jammers of the New York-Penn League.
“I was in utter shock,” Krause said when the Pirates called his name. “It was definitely a moment I’ll never forget.”
He has made noise this season with the bat. He leads the team in home runs (7) and RBI (32). He has eight multi-RBI games this season in 37 appearances, including a five-RBI, two-HR performance against the Vermont Lake Monsters on July 13.
Krause made a big early impression, hitting a home run in three of his first six games and posting a .303 average through the first 25 games of the season. He sits at .273 as of Aug. 19.
The other Stony Brook draftee was pitcher Brandon McNitt. The Stony Brook native was taken in the 27th round by the Houston Astros, and was promptly sent to their Class A Short Season affiliate, the Tri-City ValleyCats, who are also in the New York-Penn League.
“We basically live at the field and it’s our job now,” McNitt said, describing the differences between playing college and pro baseball.
The two former college teammates did have to face each other as the ValleyCats traveled to Jamestown for a July 9 matchup with the Jammers.
“I had faced him in the cage when we took BP indoors,” Krause said about having to face McNitt.
After letting up a home run to the first batter he faced, McNitt settled down in his three-inning relief appearance. He allowed only one hit after that, striking out three as well. He did face Krause and it was a battle that the pitcher McNitt won, getting the catcher to fly out to left.
“I just got under it and hit it to the warning track, so I was busting his chops a little bit,” Krause recalled.
McNitt’s season as a whole has been pretty good. He has posted a 3.16 ERA through Aug. 19 in 25.2 IP. He has struck out 21 batters while only walking eight, and has posted five scoreless appearances in nine games. One of those was a start, going four strong innings in a July 14 game against the Williamsport Crosscutters. He allowed only two hits in the start while striking out four, but was not credited with the win.
He has had two other starts on the season, allowing two and five runs respectively.
“I thought they were just going to put me in a bullpen role and they (his coaching staff) said they wanted me as a starter,” McNitt said.
Back at home, the Seawolves will look to achieve their fifth 30-win season in six years, and look to make their first NCAA appearance since 2012, when the season starts up again in 2015.