UTICA, N.Y.– This summer’s crop of outfielders looks to make an immediate impact for the Utica Blue Sox.
The addition of a popular local athlete and a fan-favorite returner should make for an exciting group roaming the outfield grass at Murnane.
The first name on this list should not be a surprise for any Blue Sox fans, and that is sophomore Easton Brenner. Brenner spent last summer in Utica, playing in 16 games while batting .267 with a home run, four stolen bases, and an impressive .446 on- base percentage. For Lafayette University this spring, Brenner hit .267 with 10 extra-base hits, while batting in 19 and stealing four bases. In the field he was even more impressive, roaming the outfield effortlessly, while only making two errors in 35 games. Outside of the diamond, Brenner is a freak athlete, considering the Texan competed in four sports in high school. Overall, Brenner brings athleticism to the outfield and the base paths which makes him an exciting returning player.
Coming to Utica after a summer with the Boonville Baseball Club, sophomore Ryan Rifenberg is an experienced outfielder who has already played in the PGCBL. Rifenberg spent this past spring playing for the University of Fort Lauderdale, a college that plays in the National Christian College Athletic Association. Rifenberg was one of his collegiate squads’ best hitters putting up a .391 batting average with 3 home runs, 11 doubles, 44 runs scored, and 44 runs batted in. In the summer of 2022, Rifenberg proved he could compete in the PGCBL, by compiling a .333 batting average, with 5 extra-base hits and 9 stolen bases all with Boonville. Rifenberg is a proven addition that brings PGCBL experience, a consistently above-average bat, and a slick glove.
Monroe, NJ native, C.J. Wisniewski, brings outfield versatility to this year’s Blue Sox. At the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the freshman played sparingly though he did get his first hit, a double, while also scoring three runs. Perfect Game ranked Wisniewski as an honorable mention for the Northeast Preseason team, while also rating him as a top 60 player out of New Jersey. Wisniewski is strong with a top exit velocity of 98.4 mph according to Prep Baseball Report. While he has yet to showcase his power at the collegiate level, the hope is he can tap into it with more at-bats this summer. Wisniewski has an exciting toolset that should make him an adept performer this summer.
A well-known name locally will also be spending his summer with the Blue Sox: Todd Abraham. A Binghamton University commit, Abraham is an exciting local product out of Proctor High School where he has led his team to a 15-4 record thus far with sights set on a playoff run. So far this season, Abraham has batted .410 with four doubles, one triple, and 16 RBI. On the base paths, opponents have been unable to stop him as he has 19 stolen bases in just 19 games. Abraham is a talented ballplayer, so much so that he earned the title of Northeast Region Preseason honorable mention. Abraham will follow in the footsteps of other local stars who played for the Blue Sox such as Dewey Roden and Ryan Enos, making him an exciting addition to this summer’s club.
For Hamilton baseball fans, Taylor Kaufman should be a familiar face. Kaufman comes to Utica all the way from Burlingame, California. The freshman played in 27 games for Hamilton, and typically spent his time in leftfield. At the plate, Kaufman contributed 34 hits in 100 at-bats for a productive .340 batting average. He also added 10 extra-base hits and 27 Runs batted in, to go along with a perfect 9 for 9 on stolen bases. He is a proficient fielder as well, maintaining a 93% fielding percentage. According to Perfect Game he also has a strong arm recording 86 mph throws from the outfield. Kaufman should provide effective defense and a contact-oriented bat for the Blue Sox.
Wyatt Jensen comes to Utica from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. A premier athlete, Jensen has strong potential for a breakout season this summer. At St. Thomas, the freshman only had eight at-bats; however, he did collect his first collegiate hit. Despite a lack of playing time, Jensen looks to have the raw tools to be a competitive addition. According to Prep Baseball Report, Jensen completed a 6.83 60-yard dash, an 88 mph throw from the outfield and hit a ball with a 94.2 mph exit velocity. At the high school level, Jensen received significant accolades including four-time all-conference, 2nd team all-district his junior year, and first-team all-district his senior year. Jensen has all the tools to produce at a high level this upcoming season.
For fans wanting to see the Utica Blue Sox catchers 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.