2003 Baseball OutlookComing off a record-breaking season, the 2003 Brown baseball team should once again challenge for the Ivy League title. Brown posted a 25-24 overall record, including a 13-7 Ivy League mark, recording the most wins ever in a season in Brown history. This comes after three straight 23-win campaigns for Head Coach Marek Drabinski.
Four of Brown's eight All-Ivy members return to the 2003 team, including junior left fielder Matt Kutler (Omaha, NE) who earned First-Team All-Ivy honors, and junior second baseman Bobby Deeb (West St. Paul, MN) and sophomore third baseman Jeff Nichols (Medford, NJ) who earned Second Team All-Ivy honors. Senior relief pitcher Dan Spring (Washington, D.C.) was an All-Ivy Honorable Mention selection.
"I like our talent level across the board. We're young, but have a chance to be a very good team," says Drabinski. "We need to develop our young talented pitchers and our eight upper classmen (two seniors, six juniors) need to fill the leadership void left by last year's graduating class."
Infielders and Catchers
The 2003 season brings solid infield depth following the 2002 season when the Bears turned 46 double plays. Drabinski will see three of his four starters return in the infield in junior short stop John Magaletti (Scarsdale, NY), Deeb at second, and Nichols at third, who should form one of the better defensive trios in the conference and in the Northeast. Deeb is currently sixth in Brown baseball history in batting average at .353. Nichols was a Second-Team All-Ivy selection and an Honorable Mention freshman All-American last season. Magaletti provides an excellent defensive presence and has improved vastly on the offensive side.
The Bears will need to fill the void of first baseman Shaun Gallagher '02, who is the career leader in games with 183, at-bats with 643, and RBI with 124. A number of players will compete for the job, including sophomore Will Cebron (La Jolla, CA), junior Harris Frankel (Marietta, GA), and sophomore James Lowe (Asheboro, NC) or freshman Eric Larson (Bradenford, FL).
Behind the plate, sophomore Cameron Mitchell (Apex, NC) will replace four-year starter and First Team All-Ivy selection Greg Metzger `02, who is currently a member of the Oakland A's organization. Mitchell is an excellent left-handed hitter who has improved his defensive skills tremendously since his arrival at Brown. "He has the quickest release I have ever coached," expressed Drabinski. "He can definitely step in and take over the everyday catching position. In addition to his catching abilities I would really like to see Cameron take over as a leader as well."
The back-up position could very well be Dan Spring, who is extremely athletic. He is also the closer on the pitching staff, and has started in both the infield and the outfield. Sophomore Chris Jernigan (Miami, FL) and Frankel will both work to gain time behind the plate as well.
Brown will showcase a very young but experienced outfield with a number of options. Drabinski will have the ability to platoon the outfield depending on a right-handed or left-handed opposing team pitcher. The Bears are returning two starters in sophomore Lowe and Kutler, but will need to fill the void of starting center fielder Rick Lynn '02, who graduated as Brown's single season and career stolen base record holder.
Kutler led the Bears in hits with 64 and triples with nine last season. He was also tied for first in doubles (14) and was second on the team in RBI (43). Kutler, who was named the MVP of the Cape Cod League Playoffs, should move from leftfield to center field for the Bears. Lowe led the team in RBI as a freshman with 46. He also accumulated 38 hits, including 12 doubles.
" I really like Kutler and Lowe in our outfield. They're very aggressive about fielding the ball and are fundamentally solid," says Drabinski. "We'll have two or three other players competing for that final outfield spot."
Sophomore Bobby Wiginton (Fresno, CA), a transfer from Santa Clara, along with freshmen Eric Larson (Bradenton, FL) and Danny Hughes (Andover, MA), will all compete for the final position in the outfield, as well as the designated hitter position. Also seeing time in the Brown outfield will be freshman Ethan Burton (Raleigh, NC).
Brown will have to replace three conference starters including Ivy League Co-Pitcher of the Year Jonathan Stern `02, an All-Ivy First Team selection, who recorded 71 strike outs and seven wins last season, as well as Jamie Grillo '02, and John Cappello '02. The Bears will look to sophomore right-handed pitcher Chris Davidson (Wolfville, Nova Scotia), who was selected Collegiate Baseball Pre-Season Ivy League Pitcher of the Year, to anchor the pitching staff. Davidson should be the ace of the staff after an impressive freshman campaign where he started seven games and accumulated 42 strikeouts, including a seven-inning complete game, 14-strikeout, one hit performance against Cornell. "Chris definitely has the size and makeup to be a dominant," says Drabinski. "If he can develop a consistent change-up, he has the chance to win a lot of games for us."
In addition to Davidson, the hard work of junior Sam Jennings (New Ashford, MA) has paid off as he is slated to be the team's number two conference starter after two years of being a spot starter and reliever. " Sam is a tough, smart pitcher, with excellent command of three pitches," says Drabinski of his veteran pitcher.
The last two spots in the conference rotation will be wide open. These two spots will be decided after the completion of Brown's three southern trips in the beginning of the season. Junior Joel DeMaria (Santa Rosa, CA), a junior college transfer from Santa Rosa Junior College, where he accumulated a record of 9-4 last season and 17-5 overall, will definitely be in the mix. Also competing for the final two spots will be freshman James Cramphin (Simsbury, CT), a hard-throwing, right-handed pitcher with the chance to be a dominant pitcher at the Division I Level.
Also vying for a conference starting role will be freshman Shaun McNamara (Worcester, MA), a right-handed pitcher, who has improved tremendously since he has come to Brown. "We have seen improvements in Shaun even since the Fall season, and he adds a great deal to our pitching staff," says Drabinski. Also having the opportunity to compete for a starting position in the conference rotation will be senior Justin Lebowitz (Aberdeen, NJ). "Justin had a very good fall season, and we are hopeful that he can pick up where he left off, " says Drabinski.
Spring, besides being the number two catcher, will be the closer for the Bears. Spring accumulated four wins and three saves during the 2002 season. "Dan has a great arm and a very good slider," says Drabinski. "He has the perfect makeup to be a closer, as he never gets rattled and wants the ball everyday."
The rest of the staff will be competing for weekday starting spots and valuable conference bullpen time. This includes juniors Jason Priede (Tampa, FL) and Frankel, who are both right-handed pitchers, sophomore right-handed pitcher Eli Friedman (Pittsburgh, PA), and freshmen left-handed pitchers Brian Hagerty (Nashua, NH) and Cameron Johnson (Berkeley, CA).