When the Houston Astros drafted Stony Brook Baseball senior centerfielder Toby Handley in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, he did not even give the team a chance to make him an offer. Despite the lure of playing for an MLB team, Handley knew his time at Stony Brook was not over.
On Tuesday night, Handley was named the America East Player of the Year after batting .346 with five home runs, 34 RBI, 17 stolen bases and 45 walks. Handley is leading the America East in stolen bases, walks and triples. All of which are with sizable leads.
“We feel that Toby is definitely deserving,” head coach Matt Senk said. “He has a great skill set. Not too many people in this game can say that they have five tools, and he is one that you can make an argument is a five-tool player.”
Five-tool players are players who display power, speed, high batting average, good fielding and a strong throwing arm. Handley has improved in all of these facets of his game this season as he had hoped, including making diving plays in centerfield with regularity.
“This offseason, I knew I had to get my weight up and my strength up so I could carry throughout the whole season,” Handley said in February. “Speed I am always focusing on, but when I’m getting stronger, I am also getting faster.”
He broke current San Diego Padres’ centerfielder Travis Jankowski’s program record for career triples, hitting his 17th and 18th triple in a doubleheader against Binghamton on May 14. He is also four walks shy of tying his former teammate Cole Peragine’s single-season program record from 2015 of 49 walks.
Handley becomes the fifth Seawolf to win this award, joining Willie Carmona in 2011, Jankowski in 2012, Kevin Krause in 2014 and Jack Parenty in 2015. In addition to winning the Player of the Year Award, Handley was named First-Team All-Conference for the second time. He first received the honor in 2015.
Handley improved his numbers in virtually every offensive stat category on his way to winning the Player of the Year Award. However, Handley admitted that prior to the start of the season, defeating Binghamton for the America East Championship with his teammates served as major motivation in returning for his senior season.
He will try and help the Seawolves do just that, but first, the team must advance to the championship game before playing the Bearcats. Stony Brook will open the tournament against Hartford at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Massachusetts at 2:30 p.m..