It has been just over three months since the Bristol Blues announced their move to the New England Collegiate Baseball League, and now their roster is officially set to go for their inaugural season.
There are some familiar faces for the fans who followed them in 2019, and general manager, Nick Rascati, said there are also new faces ready to make an immediate impact.
In Rascati’s first year as the general manager, he said one benefit of moving into the NECBL is the ability to sign older players, as they were not able to sign players who are juniors in college in their previous league, the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
“A lot of our players are from schools that we have been familiar with in recent years with signing players,” Rascati said. “Now we are able to grab some of the older players from those schools. Now you are getting that leader that is not only different skill-wise but he is different off the field as well. We are very happy with the roster we put together.”
The Blues return two players from last year’s FCBL roster, including sophomore pitchers Garret Coe from the University of Connecticut and Mark Faello from Hofstra University. The 30-man roster carries 23 athletes who compete at the Division I collegiate level, and also includes seven players who grew up in Connecticut.
Faello and Coe are expected to lead a very deep and talented pitching staff for the Blues. Last season in the FCBL, Faello was third on the Blues with 41 innings pitched, led the team with a 6-0 record, and was third on the team in earned run average with 1.54. Coe was limited to 18 innings last season, but was second on the team with a 1.50 ERA and allowed just eight hits.
Ryan Lamay of Sacred Heart University also joins the pitching staff after striking out 27 batters in 28 innings for the Pioneers last season. Marshall Mcgraw struck out 54 batters in 49.1 innings for Seton Hall University last season.
On the hitting side, there are also players worth highlighting. Tyler Keith was batting .282 for Post University in 2020 before the season was suspended doe to the COVID-19 outbreak. Jonathan Barditch batted .292 in his freshman year at Manhattan College and was also named to the MAAC All-Rookie team. Nick Gile, who recently transferred to Creighton University, batted .391 with Madison College in two seasons and was named an NJCAA First Team All-American. Shane Kelly started 36 games in his freshman season with Bryant University in 2019, including a .296 average, three homeruns, 30 runs batted in, and 4-for-4 on stolen base opportunities.
Rascati said he does not see a reason why the Blues can’t make some noise in their first season in the NECBL.
“We definitely have the right guys and the tools in place to make a run and make it interesting,” Rascati said. “We feel very confident with the roster we have. Also, Ronnie (Palmer) and Jordie (Scheiner) have done a great job coaching this team the past few years they have been here together. They have won every time they were here, no matter who they got. We can’t be luckier enough to have them as a coaching staff.”
This season will be different than most summer collegiate seasons as the spring season has been cancelled for most, if not all, the collegiate athletes. Rascati said he still expects the team to be fully prepared for opening day.
“I think it will mostly be the same for them” Rascati said of the players. “They are going to prepare for it like it is their normal regular season. If this was their winter break, they would be getting ready, throwing bullpens and getting their swings. It also has to do with the type of characters we bring in. These kids work hard and they know what it takes.”
Rascati said that, as of last week, the opening to the NECBL regular season is still on as scheduled. The Blues are set to make their debut June 3 at the Winnipesaukee Muskrats.
For more information about the Bristol Blues, visit www.bristolbluesbaseball.com.