New-look Silver Knights reloading
NASHUA – They have no general manager or assistant GM right now, but don’t worry, the Nashua Silver Knights have plenty of players for the 2018 season.
You just may not recognize too many of them. There are only about a half dozen holdovers from last year’s championship team, due in part to the fact that was a veteran team with many players whose eligibility is now gone. It will be a much younger roster next summer.
“That’s the way it is,” Silver Knights field manager and VP of Player Personnel B.J. Neverett said. “Even the NECBL teams, they don’t have any kids coming back on their rosters. That’s the way it is all over, everybody’s one and done. Sully (Ryan Sullivan, five year Knight) was a rare breed.”
Neverett spent the month of September daily assembing a preliminary roster, and while there are no guarantees (college season injuries, pitchers shut down, etc.) here’s a look at what could be the fruits of his labor for the 2018 season:
Youth will be served here – the opposite of this past season – as there are potentially three sophomores, a freshman, and three future high school grads. Two key names are players winding up their high school careers this spring, Exeter second baseman Cody Morissette and Bedford slugger Grant Lavigne. The other high schooler will be one of Virginia Tech’s hottest recruits, third basman Nick Biddison.
“He’s a top five player in the state of Virginia,” Neverett said. “He was committed to go to the University of North Carolina. And when he saw how many people they signed, he de-committed and decided on Virginia Tech (in his home state). He’s a talent.” Neverett has a connection with Va. Tech, as assistant coach Ryan Fecteau had sent players here from his days as a coach at Bryant University. “He gave me a call, and wants to send players here,” Neverett said. “Virginia Tech has sent players to our league.”
Lavigne is headed to Wake Forest next year, and according to Neverett he balked at reporting next July 1 – which is what they like their freshmen to do – so he could play summer ball with the Silver Knights.
The Demon Deacons reportedly gave in. “I guess they want to keep him,” Neverett said.
There may be some famous names at Holman this summer with this next player, Bentley University sophomore first baseman Ryan Beradino. If that name sounds familiar, he’s the grandson of both former Red Sox outfielder Dwight Evans and former Lowell Spinners manager and Sox minor league evaluator Dick Beradino. Neverett tried to get Beradino last year but the roster was clogged, and he was one of the first calls he made.
He hit over .300 and earned All NE-10 honors.
Assumption infielder Jared Brecia spent last summer with Laconia of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
The lone returnee for the infield is Merrimack College first baseman Tom Joyce, who spelled old friend Ryan Sullivan at the position here and there last summer, hitting .278 with a homer and 14 RBIs in 90 at-bats.
The other infielder listed right now is Exeter’s Kyle Ball, the former Blue Hawk quarterback and baseball standout who is starting his freshman year at Stetson University. Ball is expected to start at Stetson, playing for the coach who originally recruited him to the University of Maine.
Early on, a lot of the high school players won’t be here, as they have to wait for graduation/state tournaments, so the infield will be a bit short.
Ball and Morissette could be the up the middle combination.
This appears to be a group filled with speed. Power? Maybe not. But returnees Luke Tyree and playoff hero Tom Blandini (only hit .154 in regular season but had a couple of key homers and RBIs in post season) could be the mainstays.
Tyree was a sparkplug for the Silver Knights last year, despite hitting just .230, and is a junior at Marymount. Blandini, out of Bow, is a sophomore at nearby Southern New Hampshire University, and likely will be in right for the Knights despite likely playing center field for the Penmen.
“He’s going to be the man at SNHU this year,” Neverett said, “starting in center field. And in the ball parks we play in that have such big right fields, we just like him out there because he tracks balls well.
“We like Tyree in center field, he’ll probably be back there (remember a couple of his big catches).”
Meanwhile, a newcomer will be Northeastern freshman Jeff Costello.
“He’ll get some time this year as a freshman,” Neverett said, adding that Lavigne and Biddison can play the outfield. These could be the only outfielders as Neverett wants a ton of pitchers on the roster.
“I’m trying not to overload the roster with position players,” Neverett said. “There’s a little more mixing and matching I can do with kids in the infield.”
Kyle Maurice could get some at-bats here. The Exeter grad, who is a freshman at UMass-Lowell this year, was on the Knights roster last year as a catcher but didn’t play a whole lot, getting just 14 plate trips.
“He probably was not quite ready for this,” Neverett said. “At UMass-Lowell, they’re trying to make him a first baseman; I don’t know how much time he’s getting this spring.
We’ll see, he’s a great kid. Primarily, he’s only going to get DH swings.”
Lavigne, Joyce, and Beradino could see some DH at-bats.
Right now, Neverett is planning on three: Yale freshman Cal Christofari out of Belmont, Mass.; Franklin Pierce sophomore Dylan Jones, and Knights holdover Mitch Baker, who came for the final couple of weeks of last year. He’s a sophomore at UMass Dartmouth.
Jones hit .313 last year for FP but is considered a good defensive catcher. He actually hits at the top of the order for Pierce, which is coached now by none other than the Silver Knights first field manager ever, Mike Chambers. Neverett will monitor Christofari’s playing time; he played in the ISL (prep school league).