From backyard dreams to reality: South Shore locals start their pro baseball careers – Enterprise News


The first step to getting to the big leagues is getting drafted or signing as a free agent. There were plenty of players both locally, and from across the state, that took that first step through the MLB draft.

Here’s a look at those players who are set to begin the next chapter of their careers as they try to work their way up their respective organizations. 

Mike Vasil, New York Mets

Draft slot: Round 8, No. 232 overall

School: BC High/University of Virginia

Outlook: The hard-throwing 6-foot-5, 225-pound right-handed pitcher waited much longer than anticipated as Vasil, who entered the draft as MLB.com’s 111th best prospect, slipped into the eighth round. That provided the Wellesley native with plenty of motivation, especially since he was seen as a first-round talent coming out of BC High.

More: New York Mets end Mike Vasil’s draft wait in eighth round

Vasil went 7-5 on the mound as a junior this past spring with the Cavaliers, posting a 4.52 earned run average across 16 starts. Vasil possesses a fastball that ranges from 90 to 95 miles per hour along with an effective change-up and a work-in-progress breaking ball. He does have elite command, walking 18 batters in 81 ⅔ innings, but he didn’t produce many swings-and-misses this season, which may have caused him to fall down draft boards. Vasil tallied 73 strikeouts this season.

More: Former BC High star Mike Vasil making a pitch for MLB draft

If all goes according to plan, Vasil is projected as a mid-to-late rotation starter in the big leagues and some scouts have even compared him to Roger Clemens. 

Ben Rice, New York Yankees

Draft slot: Round 12, No. 363 

School: Noble and Greenough/Dartmouth College

Outlook: The Cohasset native has no problem seeing pinstripes in his future as Rice grew up rooting for the Yankees. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound catcher lacks the experience of other draftees as Rice played just one-plus season with the Big Green due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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More: From fan to draft pick: Cohasset’s Ben Rice selected by New York Yankees

Even with his limited amount of collegiate playing time, Rice landed on the radar of scouts thanks to a sensational showing with the Worcester Bravehearts in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League last summer. Rice belted 11 home runs and batted a robust .350 with 27 runs batted in as his effort earned him FCBL Most Valuable Player honors.

It’s unclear whether Rice will stick to catcher in New York’s minor league system, or if a move to first base would make more sense. Either way, Rice has a potent bat that will continuously make him a fixture in the lineup.

Joey Walsh, Los Angeles Angels

Draft slot: Undrafted free agent

School: Plymouth North/Boston College

Outlook: Walsh was bypassed during the 20-round draft, but the left-handed hurler got the next best thing when the Angels came calling soon after. The former Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year joins an arms race in the Angels minor league system as the organization used all 20 of its draft picks on pitchers.

More: A career in professional baseball awaits Plymouth’s Joey Walsh

Walsh, who still had two years left of collegiate eligibility but decided to pass that up, made 74 pitching appearances with BC — all but 8 were in a relief role — which is the ninth most in program history. Walsh missed his first season with BC while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and amassed 9 wins, 6 saves and 131 strikeouts in 149 ⅓ innings pitched during his collegiate career.

David Griffin, New York Mets 

Draft slot: Undrafted free agent

School: Hanover/Curry College

Outlook: It was an unusual path to joining the New York Mets organization for the 25-year-old right-handed pitcher. Griffin didn’t get drafted out of college in 2018 and was playing Independent League Baseball for the Gary (Indiana) RailCats when the Mets purchased his contract in the middle of June.

More: AN UNDERDOG STORY: Hanover’s David Griffin makes pitch as a New York Mets minor leaguer

At the moment, Griffin is pitching for the Low-A St. Lucie Mets, where he has struck out 21 batters in 15 ⅔ innings to go along with a 5.74 earned run average. 

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Collin Sullivan

Draft slot: Undrafted free agent

School: Cardinal Spellman/Fort Pierce Central/University of South Florida

Outlook: The right-handed pitcher didn’t get any teams to bite on him during the draft, unlike in 2016 when the San Diego Padres drafted him in the 29th round. Instead, Sullivan, who had one of his best years on the mound as a fifth-year senior with the Bulls this spring, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend. 

More: Randolph’s Collin Sullivan hoping to be selected in MLB Draft for second time

Named to the All-American Athletic Conference Second Team this season, Sullivan went 3-4 in 16 starts while compiling a 4.07 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He fanned 90 batters in 79 ⅔ innings and showed strong command by ranking 43rd in the NCAA in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 5.62. 

Other Massachusetts natives to get draft call

Sal Frelick, Milwaukee Brewers

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 15

School: Lexington/Boston College

Outlook: Frelick highlighted the crop of players that were drafted who call Massachusetts home. A stellar center fielder with superb athleticism who also makes consistent contact at the plate, Frelick was the highest draft pick from Massachusetts since Auburn’s Tyler Beede went 14th overall in 2014. That same year, Middleboro’s Sean Newcomb went 15th overall to the Los Angeles Angels. Frelick’s slot value is $3.89 million. 

Ryan Cusick, Atlanta Braves

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 24

School: Lincoln-Sudbury/Wake Forest 

Outlook: The right-handed pitcher landed with an organization that is well-known for pitching. Cusick will also be reunited with his former Demon Deacon teammate Jared Shuster, who hails from New Bedford and was taken No. 25 by the Braves in 2020.

Josh Baez, St. Louis Cardinals

Draft slot: Round 2, No. 54

School: Snowden International/Dexter Southfield

Outlook: At just 18 years-old, the former Boston City League star, who continued his high school career at Dexter Southfield, is a high-prized outfield prospect. Originally committed to Vanderbilt, it is expected Baez signs on with the Cardinals. The slot pick value for Baez is $1.34 million.

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Steven Hajjar, Minnesota Twins

Draft slot: Round 2, No. 61

School: Central Catholic/Michigan

Outlook: The talented left-handed pitcher and Andover native had a stellar season for the Wolverines, recording the sixth most strikeouts in a single season in program history with 110. He was rewarded for that as his slot value is $1.13 million. 

Sean Burke, Chicago White Sox

Draft Slot: Round 3, No. 94

School: St. John’s Shrewsbury/Maryland

Outlook: Burke, a Sutton native, is another elite arm to come out of the Pioneers program and continued to show off his dazzling array of pitchers with the Terrapins. He only ranked behind Hajjar in the Big Ten in strikeouts with 107 in 74 ⅓ innings pitched.

Nick Sinacola, San Francisco Giants

Draft slot: Round 7, 206

School: North Attleboro/University of Maine

Outlook: It wasn’t long ago that Sinacola led North Attleboro to a Division 2 state title in 2018 — the Red Rocketeers defeated Oliver Ames handily in the South final that year. Now Sinacola, who was a strikeout machine by recording 139 punch outs in 79 ⅓ innings this season, makes the next step in his baseball career.

Jared Dupere, San Francisco Giants

Draft slot: Round 13, No. 386

School: Governor’s Academy/Northeastern

Outlook: The Amesbury native and outfielder put together a phenomenal campaign this spring, earning Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year honors as well as being named to the ABCA/Rawlings All-America Third Team. He batted .343 with 21 homers and 50 RBI.

Dominic Keegan, New York Yankees

Draft slot: Round 19, No. 573

School: Central Catholic/Vanderbilt

Outlook: Keegan, a Methuen native, could have been the second catcher from the Bay State headed to the Yankees, but per reports, Keegan won’t sign on and will head back to Vanderbilt for his senior season.

Jackson Linn, Houston Astros

Draft slot: Round 20, No. 598

School: Cambridge

Outlook: The high school outfielder was one of the final selections in the draft. He is committed to Tulane.


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