By: Connor Stalker, Staff Writer
UTICA, NY– With the Blue Sox season right around the corner, it is time to preview this summer’s roster. First off, we will look at the infielders. This core of infielders looks to be a strength for this year’s squad, including a strong mix of veteran ballplayers and young, but talented, high school seniors and college freshmen.
Highlighted by two Kentucky commits, a freshman at Rutgers, and a range of strong performers across all levels of collegiate baseball, the Blue Sox infielders should be exciting to watch.
Sophomore first baseman Will Shannon from Hillsdale College, a Division 2 university in Michigan, will look to continue his excellent season and be a formidable power force in the middle of the Blue Sox lineup. This past season he broke out in a big way hitting 13 home runs and 30 RBI while maintaining an impressive batting average of .388. The Bloomfield Hills, Michigan native also brings a strong plate approach to Utica, as he drew 19 walks contributing to a strong .488 on-base percentage.
Junior infielder Norris McClure brings versatility and a strong bat to Utica. At Spring Hill College, a Division 2 school in Alabama, McClure has been a consistent force at the plate compiling a career batting average of .380 in three seasons. This past season the Louisiana native posted an impressive .401 batting average with 3 home runs, 15 doubles, and 4 triples. On the base paths, McClure was a problem, stealing 27 bases in 30 attempts. Coming to Utica, McClure can play multiple infield positions while putting pressure on opposing defenses both at the plate and on the base paths.
Sophomore shortstop Peter Adams brings a top-of-the-order mentality to the Blue Sox that includes speed and solid bat-to-ball skills. Coming out of Fox Creek High School, a school located in South Carolina, Adams chose to stay in state and attend Limestone University. In 44 games, Adams had a .384 batting average with 12 stolen bases and 8 doubles. Adams’ speed and contact skills (only 15 strikeouts in 164 at-bats) should prove beneficial in the Blue Sox lineup.
At Rockland Community College, infielder Ben Partridge was unstoppable on the base paths. In 42 attempts, Partridge successfully stole 38 bases, while also batting .422. Partridge showed off a combination of gap-to-gap power with 17 doubles, and the ability to avoid strikeouts with only 8 in 173 at-bats. During conference play, Partridge was at his best, hitting 2 of his 3 home runs while keeping up a .455 batting average. Partridge will look to continue his successful season this summer by stealing bases at an impressive clip and hammering opposing pitchers.
Coming out of Cathedral High School in Indiana, middle infielder Kyuss Gargett looks to make an immediate impact for the Blue Sox. Gargett is a highly touted commit to Division 1 powerhouse, Kentucky. Gargett hails from Anderson, Indiana, and Perfect Game USA ranked him as a Preseason Central Region honorable mention. He brings an athletic and well-rounded skill set to the Blue Sox that should be beneficial in the middle of the infield. Fans can expect stolen bases from Gargett, according to Prep Baseball Report, he recorded a 6.53 60-yard dash time and now sports a 60-yard dash time in the 6.3 range. Further, Gargett is not just a speedster, he also impressed PBR scouts with a 95 mph exit velocity.
Utica picked up another solid veteran presence with the signing of middle infielder, Andre Demetral out of Northern Illinois University. The Junior posted solid statistics across the board including a .277 batting average and 15 extra-base hits. Demetral proved to be a walks machine compiling 38 walks en route to a .405 on-base percentage. This past year Demetral spent the majority of his time at shortstop with a 93.7% fielding percentage. Demetral combines a strong glove, with a solid bat making him a strong addition to the Blue Sox infield.
Like fellow Blue Sox infielder Kyuss Gargett, Josh Skowronski is a top-rated recruit committed to the University of Kentucky. Skowronski is from Frederick, Maryland where he attended Saint John’s Catholic Prep and was named to the Perfect Game Preseason All -American Atlantic Region 2nd team. According to PBR, Skowronski also posted an impressive maximum exit velocity of 96 mph, as well as throwing 87 mph in the infield. Skowronski will spend most of his time at the corner infield positions and projects to be a strong power option in the Blue Sox lineup.
Adam Haidermota comes to Utica from Florida A&M after spending this past season as the Rattlesnakes’ starting 3rd baseman. The Tampa, Florida native had a strong season at the plate knocking 3 home runs, and batting home 28. He also improved his batting average from previous seasons up to .293. Haidermota looks to be a great addition to this year’s club because he offers a veteran presence, a solid bat with some pop, and quality glove in the infield.
Rutgers’ freshman, Pablo Santos, played in limited games this past season; however, he brings a tremendous skill set to Utica. Santos graduated from renowned high school Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey and was chosen by Perfect Game to be on the Northeast All -Region First Team. Santos also plays a variety of positions including leftfield, 2nd base, and 3rd base with Rutgers, as well as shortstop. He also has a strong throwing arm. Santos recorded a maximum infield velocity of 92 mph at a PBR event. Santos has the high school track record to be a valuable asset for this summer’s Blue Sox team.
For fans wanting to see the Utica Blue Sox infielders in action, opening day is Thursday June 1st against Mohawk Valley with the home opener on Saturday, June 3rd against Oneonta.
Follow the Utica Blue Sox on Twitter @Ubluesox, on Instagram @uticabluesox and on Facebook.