Drew Strotman #31 (St. Mary's) and Alex Calvert #28 (Erskine) are returning for another summer in Bethesda. They will help provide leadership for the players new to the Big Train.
Coming off another regular season championship and a loss in the championship series of the Cal Ripken Collegiate League, Big Train will look to repeat their success in 2016. While many of last summer’s stars, such as Chris Lewis, Logan Farrar, and Zach Kirtley, have moved on, a core group of 2015 players will return for another season at Povich.
All stats through Sunday, May 1.
Catcher Justin Morris (Maryland) and outfielders Cody Brown (Mississippi State) and Jimmy Monaghan (Campbell) are the returning players from last summer’s squad. Morris, a local product from DeMatha Catholic High School, split time between catcher and first base last summer, and with three more catchers joining him this year, he will probably see a similar role. A .167 hitter, his defense behind the plate has been his calling card this year – he sports a .986 fielding percentage – and Maryland coach John Szefc called him one of the team’s best defensive players. Brown, returning to Big Train for his third season, has a similar approach at the plate, hitting .244 for Mississippi State this year with a .392 OBP. He also brings speed to the table, as he led Big Train with 17 stolen bases a year ago. Monaghan, who can play first and the outfield, was a late-season addition to the Big Train roster in 2015, but did not play. This year at Campbell he has flourished, sporting a .262/.351/.454 slash line while driving in 25 runs in 39 games, and his bat will get him into the lineup this summer.
These three will be joined by a host of new position players, led by outfielder Daniel Woodrow (Creighton), second baseman Clayton Daniel (Jacksonville State), infielder Garrett Kueber (Moorpark) and infielder Allen Smoot (San Francisco). Woodrow leads the Big East with a .370 batting average to go along with 31 runs scored and 26 stolen bases, while playing errorless defense in center field. His speed and hitting prowess figure to make him a fixture near the top of the Big Train lineup this season. Daniel has started all 43 of Jacksonville State’s games this season, and leads the team in hitting (.378), hits (71), doubles (14), RBI (43), and total bases (92). He is a contact hitter with good plate discipline, drawing 23 walks while striking out just 11 times in 180 at bats. Kueber, one of the only community college players on the roster, leads Moorpark with a .358 average and 33 runs scored, and a .469 average, and ranks second with 43 hits and 21 walks. Smoot is hitting .319 in 40 games this season, and leads San Francisco with 12 doubles and 28 RBI. Versatile defensively, he can play second base and the corner infield spots well.
Along with Daniel, Kueber, and Smoot, Vinny Esposito (Sacramento State), Cameron Daugherty (Bowling Green State), Michael Smith (George Mason), and Gunnar Lambert (Florida Atlantic) are newcomers to the Big Train infield. Esposito, a first baseman, has played alongside Hunley in 39 games this year, hitting .241 with 2 homers and 11 RBI. He ranks near the top of the team with a .984 fielding percentage, too, and figures to see significant playing time at first this season. Daugherty is a 6’6” utility man who can play first, third, and the corner outfield spots. While the freshman has struggled at the plate this year, hitting .231 with 3 doubles and 7 RBI in 29 games, his versatility makes him a valuable asset. Smith, another local product from Lorton, Va., has seen time at both short and second this season for George Mason. Another on-base machine, he’s hit .241 with a .361 OBP and a team-high 24 walks in 44 games. Third baseman, Lambert has hit .307 with a .413 OBP in 20 games this year. At Florida Atlantic, Lambert has also seen time at catcher, and could see time behind the plate in Bethesda. Outfielder Peyton Sorrels (Maryland) will compete with Brown, Monaghan, and Woodrow for playing time. Used mostly as a pinch runner and defensive replacement for the Terps this season, Sorrels is 2-for-10 with two runs scored in two starts.
Behind the plate, Morris will be joined by Austin Hale (Stetson), and Keith Oren (Creighton). Hale has hit .273 with 12 RBI and a .351 OBP in 39 starts this year. No slouch defensively either, he leads his team with a .995 fielding percentage while throwing out 37 percent of would-be base stealers. Oren is hitting .161 on the year, but like Hale and Morris, he is strong defensively, committing only one error this season.
The Bethesda Big Train posted an outstanding team ERA of 2.32 during the 2015 Cal Ripken Senior Collegiate Baseball League regular season. This season, with plenty of pitching turnover that sees eleven new players on the staff, there is reason for high optimism that this team will once again contend for the league title. Let’s discuss each new pitcher to the Big Train in detail, and then we’ll cover the four returning arms to Manager Sal Colangelo’s line of fire.
Pitchers New to the Big Train:
Logan Gilbert (Stetson) has emerged as a top tier pitcher for the Hatters as a freshman in 2016, making 14 appearances (5 starts) and a 2-1 record with a terrific 2.41 ERA in 41 innings with 34 strikeouts and 19 walks while holding opposing hitters to a .243 average. The righty was a 2015 Perfect Game All-American honorable mention. His teammate at Stetson, southpaw Erik Wiebke (Stetson), has made 12 appearances (3 starts) for the Hatters in 2016, posting a 4.45 ERA in his freshman season with 22 strikeouts and 11 walks in 30.1 innings. Wiebke played in the South Florida Collegiate League in the Summer of 2015 and was dominant, going 3-0 with 35 strikeouts in 33.1 innings and a glimmering 2.16 ERA. Rounding out the group of three new Floridians for the 2016 Big Train is righty Kyle Marman (Florida Atlantic). This Orlando native has pitched three relief innings thus far in his freshman campaign and has struck out two. Marman was an All-Met at Dr. Phillips High School, posting a 1.15 ERA and striking out an impressive 12 batters per 9 innings.
The Big Train brought in three new arms from the Golden State for the 2016 season. First is lefty John York (St. Mary’s Calif.), a rising senior. York has put together a solid junior season for the Gaels thus far, making nine starts, compiling an even 4-4 record, and sporting a 3.16 ERA. York has struck out 33 batters in 62.2 innings pitched, walked 13, and held opponents to a mere .264 batting average. Also a rising senior is Sean Barry (UC San Diego). This 6’2’’ right-hander has been used mostly as a reliever for the Toreros, making 18 appearances (2 starts) and throwing 27 innings, striking out 26 and walking 19 while holding opponents to a .259 batting average. In 2015, Barry compiled a 10-3 record at Santa Barbara Community College with a 1.29 ERA in 111.1 innings pitched while walking 32 and striking out 107. Additionally, big lefty Chase Gardner (San Francisco) has appeared in 12 games for the Dons, 6 of them starts, accumulating 29.1 innings and has not given up the long ball. Gardner was a two-sport athlete in high school and all-county in baseball. Gardner’s teammate, righty Mack Meyer (San Francisco) also joins the 2016 Big Train. Meyer has made 27 relief appearances for the Dons this spring, posting a 3-2 record and a 4.35 ERA in 31 innings of work. He has walked just four and has struck out 21 during his junior campaign.
Also joining the Big Train this summer are two new hurlers from the University of Maryland: lefty Zachary Guth (Maryland) and righty John Murphy (Maryland). Guth, a tall southpaw from PA, has made eleven appearances for the Terrapins, all in relief. Guth was named All-Region in high school in 2015, compiling a 3-0 record with 76 strikeouts and a .400 batting average to boot. He was also an honorable mention All-American by Perfect Game and the Erie Times Player of the Year. Murphy, a New Jersey native, has thrown ten innings thus far in his freshman season at Maryland, striking out seven and walking three. Murphy holds the all-time Wins record at Gloucester Catholic High School and was named honorable mention All-American by Perfect Game in 2015.
Two new pitchers for the 2016 Big Train represent colleges south of the Potomac in Virginia, right-handers Matt Marsili (James Madison University) and Blaine Lafin (Virginia Military Institute). Marsili, an upstate New York native, has made 15 relief appearances for the Dukes, striking out 12 batters in 14.1 innings of work while holding opposing batters to a .267 average. Lafin, a rising senior from Culpeper, VA, has made 25 relief appearances for the Keydets, tallying 24 strikeouts and holding opponents to a batting average of .250 over 22.2 innings pitched.
The Big Train also reached further down South to the Tar Heel State for pitching help this summer, including righty Stephen Schoch (Appalachian State) and the aforementioned Matt Herzog (Louisburg College). Schoch, the big Maryland native, is having a good freshman season for the Mountaineers, striking out 33 batters in 30 relief innings and walking just twelve and has no wins or losses. A graduate of Good Counsel High School, Schoch was a four-year letterwinner and All-Met in high school. Herzog, another DC-Metro native from Fairfax, VA, stands 6’5’’ and is having an impressive season for the Hurricanes, making 15 appearances (7 starts) and going 4-0 with a 3.14 ERA in 48.2 innings pitched.
Pitchers Returning to the Big Train:
Fans of the Bethesda Big Train will recognize the four names on the following list, as these Big Train veterans look to continue their fine performances from a year ago and pitch the squad back to the League Championship Series. First, right-hander Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s Calif.) returns to the Big Train in 2016 looking to build on a strong 2015 summer season that saw him make eight starts and go 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA and 33 strikeouts compared to just ten walks. Strotman also was a Cal Ripken League All Star in 2015 and should be a leader on this year’s pitching staff.
Righty Chris Monaco (Virginia Tech) returns for 2016. The 6’3’’ right-hander from New York had an impressive showing for the Big Train in 2015, going 2-1 in 7 appearances, 5 starts with a miniscule 1.95 ERA and 21 strikeouts to just 7 walks in 27.2 innings pitched. Monaco has mostly been used out of the bullpen for the Hokies.
The third returning right-hander for the Big Train is Alex Calvert (Erskine). The big righty returns to the Big Train in 2016 looking to build on a solid 2015 campaign out of the starting rotation, which saw Calvert go 4-0 with a 4.09 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 16 walks in 33 innings across 9 appearances (7 starts). The Maryland native boasts an impressive 8-2 record thus far for the Fleet, with a 4.41 ERA in 85.2 innings pitched, walking 33 and striking out 99 while holding opposing hitters to a .266 batting average.
Finally, fans of the Big Train will remember righty Miller Trevvett (Radford), who posted a staggering 0.49 ERA over 18.1 innings in the summer of 2015 for Bethesda. For the Highlanders thus far this college season, the rising junior from Richmond has turned in 14.2 relief innings spanning 15 relief appearances, walking six and striking out thirteen in the process.