New York Yankee scout Cesar Presbott stood close by as Shelter Island Bucks catcher Ryan Smoot caught practice pitches and fired throws to second base. “Quick hands, quick feet, let’s go, good throws!” the scout urged.
Mr. Presbott has been a scout in the major leagues for 45 years and his experience and professionalism showed as he ran the drill on Tuesday, or “Scout Day,” held on a field in Westhampton Beach. Hampton Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL) players worked out under the sharp eyes of talent evaluators, hoping to impress one or more and earn a professional contract.
In addition to Mr. Presbott, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates also had representatives on the field for morning and afternoon sessions. At the afternoon session, players from the Bucks, the Sag Harbor Whalers and the North Fork Ospreys had their chances.
Scouts armed with stopwatches, radar guns, rating sheets and a world of experience in evaluating baseball talent stood by as outfielders fielded fungoes and made several throws each to third base. Shortstops, second and third basemen took grounders and threw to the first basemen, with the scouts marking the quality of each performance.
Players who made the cut will inspire additional scouting and maybe that coveted call-up to professional ball.
Some players are already on Major League Baseball’s (MLB) radar. This season the MLB draft was held on June 12 and 18 former or current HCBL players were selected, including Tyler Osik of the 2017 Westhampton Aviators in the 40th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
To date, the young HCBL has had 121 players drafted by MLB. Six of those players have made it to the big leagues and 69 are in one of the six levels of the minor leagues.
The Bucks boast 11 MLB draftees among its alumni, including Alex Katz (Bucks ’13) in A ball for the Chicago White Sox; Mac James (Bucks ’13) in Double A for the Tampa Bay Rays; Trevor Sims (Bucks ’12,’13) in A ball for the Arizona Diamondbacks; Mike Wallace (Bucks ’13) in A ball for the Pirates; Sam Machonis (Bucks ’13) in A ball for the Tigers; Will Savage (Bucks ’14) in A ball for the Tigers: Chris Hess (Bucks ’15) in A ball for the Yankees; Collin Snider (Bucks ’15) in rookie league for the Kansas City Royals; and Justin Jones (Bucks ’14) in rookie league for the Oakland As.
Most of HCBL players are still in their teens, raw but skilled. They have cracked the rosters of D1 college teams and stay sharp playing summer ball in the HCBL against good competition. One of these days, some of these guys may make it to “the show.”
Until then, we have the pleasure of watching them put on the Orange and Black at Fiske Field against the other six clubs in the league.
Three HCBL teams make BPR Top Ten
The Westhampton Aviators, Riverhead Tomcats and Shelter Island Bucks have been named to the top 10 list for collegiate summer league teams in the Baseball Player Report BPR, an amateur baseball scouting service for teams and players in New York State.
The Aviators are in second place, the Tomcats in seventh and the Bucks have been named 10th best alongside teams from the New York Collegiate Baseball League and the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.