06/23/2010 4:16 PM - After a disappointing 2009 season, the Brewster Whitecaps have opened in solid fashion, going 6-2 in their first eight games. With no returning players on the roster, it’s clear that a fresh start was just what the Whitecaps needed.
Brewster manager Tom Myers credits his team’s early success to a talented and speedy group of position players who arrived early on the Cape, allowing for a cohesive force to be created on and off the field. At the base of this solid Brewster defense has been a consistent battery, lead by catchers Mike Dowd (Franklin Pierce) and Jeremy Schaffer (Tulane).
“Our catchers have done a great job calling games and getting our pitchers into rhythms early on. Jeremy and Mike bring different dimensions, with different strengths, and we are very pleased with them so far,” Myers said.
The Whitecaps have been blessed with excellent pitching debuts, one of the most impressive coming from Mike Palazzone (Georgia). The Bulldog went 7.1 shutout innings in his first start at Orleans and has a stingy 0.68 ERA in 13.1 innings.
Pitching has dictated the outcome of a majority of the games during the opening week, mainly because batters are not accustomed to using wood bats.
“Our hitters will need to continue to learn an approach and confidence when at the plate,” Myers said. “In time, when they make these adjustments, they will be more successful.”
While it is early in the season, Myers has already recognized leaders emerging from his talented roster. Middle infielder Andy Burns (Kentucky) has been solid defensively. Myers, who called Burns “baseball savvy,” expects great things to come.
Most impressive, though, has been outfielder John Andreoli (UConn). Currently on the roster as a temp player, he has been playing like a seasoned veteran, with a .312 batting average. Myers labeled him a “phenomenal player and teammate, with an excellent approach.”
But Andreoli knows nothing is guaranteed.
“From Day One I’ve been taking the approach that I’m not going to take any of this for granted,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity. Day in and day out I’m going to continue to hustle and hope it works out in the end. But it’s definitely something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, no matter what happens.”
Andreoli, whose cousin, Luke Bard (Georgia Tech) is also on the team, is a third generation Cape League player. His uncles and grandfather also played and coached in the prestigious league. His cousin, Daniel Bard, pitched in the Cape League and is now a reliever for the Boston Red Sox. It is clear that baseball runs through Andreoli’s veins.
“We all enjoy playing with each other. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s almost like school ball, ” he said.