Archive | Alumni/Player News

Ruffnecks in Professional Baseball

There are many former Ruffnecks who have played professional baseball.  We have yet to have an alum in a regular season Major League game.  Nevertheless, two highly rated prospects are currently in Triple A.  On Thursday, March 21st, they faced each other in a Spring Training game… Mets vs. Marlins.  Isan Diaz is the first Ruffnecks alumnus to be on a Major League 40-Man Roster.  He was a 2nd round draft pick for the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Central High School in Springfield and on the strength of this Ruffnecks career.  His value as a young player is undisputed.  He was traded to Milwaukee and then from the Brewers to Miami in the deal that sent National League MVP, Christian Yelich from the Marlins to the Brewers.  Anytime a player is in a package for a future MVP, there is value!  Diaz played several years with the Ruffnecks and credits Coach Kirk Fredricks with kick-starting his ascent in baseball.  He would acknowledge that the “kick start” may have been a kick in the butt, but the talented Diaz appreciates the accountability that Fredericks delivered to his growth as a player.  Isan’s father, Raul Diaz, served the Ruffnecks program as the 13U coach in 2018, and all who came under his influence know why Isan has had good guidance and instruction.  We miss Coach Diaz.

Toffey, Coach Brickley, Diaz

In 2013, a young player named Will Toffey asked if he could join the Ruffnecks program.  He was a talented short stop (Isan’s position at the time) who had played against the Ruffnecks as a youngster.  Toffey’s older brother, John Toffey, is currently the Ruffnecks 17U “Senior” Head Coach, but at the time he was just a brother, serving as a coach at a New England prep school.  We informed Will that he was welcome to join the Ruffnecks, but we already had a short stop (Diaz).  If Will wanted to convert to 3B, we could make room.  It is a scenario that plays out often in our program… a program that does not field a “B” team, and remains loyal to its players who have worked hard to distinguish themselves.  Will Toffey willingly moved to 3B.  In the process he became a Ruffneck, through-and-through, putting himself behind the best interests of the TEAM.  The result was a scholarship offer to Vanderbilt University as a third baseman!  Toffey went on to start for Vandy, played in the College World Series, and had a stellar career.  Ironically, both Diaz and Toffey had offers to Vanderbilt, but Diaz signed out of high school (2nd round is understandable).  And… Toffey was never offered a baseball scholarship until AFTER the summer before his senior year in high school.  He was a multi-sport athlete (hockey and baseball) and was not on “baseball radars.”

Both Diaz and Toffey are among the top prospects to be the first Ruffnecks to get to the “Show.”  They are chased by another teammate, Paul Campbell (Clemson University), who came to the Ruffnecks as an infielder and became a pitcher, and now pitches in the Tampa Bay Rays system.  And while we rarely boast or speak about professional players (we are a college development program), we are pleased for these players’ success.  And for the young players in this program, all these prospects will tell you… They dreamed, but did not expect to be where they are.

Thursday, March 21st was a cool day for the Ruffnecks program when the Mets’ Will Toffey ran into the Marlins’ Isan Diaz.  Toffey’s brother and Ruffneck coach John Toffey, along with Coach John Brickley got to see the reunion.  We wish them the best!

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Where Are They Now? Ruffnecks in College

Kevin Superko - Georgetown University

The Division I collegiate baseball season is under way, and Ruffnecks alums are all over the map, making contributions to their college squads.  Division II and III teams are also getting going, and we will provide an update for them following the March break, which customarily marks the beginning for D-III schedules.  Right now, let’s take a look at more than 20 former Ruffnecks who are currently playing in Division I schools.

Close to home, in the ACC, Jacob Stevens is making noise as a freshman at Boston College.  He leads the team in pitching, posting a 2-0 record in three starts.  In 18 plus innings, Stevens has 23 Ks and only 5 walks.  He threw six no-hit innings in BC’s only loss (he was not the pitcher of record).  Stevens’ ERA is 0.00 and opponents are hitting a paltry .119 off him.  Down south in the ACC, sophomore Paul Campbell continues to contribute to the Clemson University pitching staff as a reliever.  He is getting time out of the bullpen for the Tigers.  Sophomore Will Toffey (brother of Seniors Coach John Toffey) returns to the lineup for Vanderbilt University.  During the 2015 season Will was named Freshman All-American, Freshman All SEC, and SEC Academic Honor Roll.

Jacob Stevens - Boston College

Five former Ruffnecks are currently playing in the IVY League.  Senior Jake Levine is at Brown University where he earned Honorable Mention All-Ivy in 2015.  He led the team with a .343 batting average in IVY play, while posting a .331 average (2nd on the team) overall.  Thomas Crispi returns to the Columbia University pitching staff after an injury sidelined him all of 2015.  The 6′4″ left handed senior is off to a good start with a 1-0 record.  Keelan Smithers, likewise returns from a year of arm trouble to contribute to Princeton University’s pitching staff.  Sophomore Josh Ellis is the starting catcher for Harvard University.  The speedy catcher is currently batting .400 for the 2-2 Crimson.  Freshman Jake Nelson notched his first win pitching for the University of Pennsylvania Quakers on Sunday, March 6 against North Florida.

A.J. Zarozny leads an explosive Bryant University offense in the Northeast Conference.  In ten games he is batting .389 with 6 doubles.  Also in the NEC, Jake Friar is contributing as a catcher at Sacred Heart University.  Three former Ruffnecks populate the roster at UMass-Amherst: Mike Geannelis, Matt Hosman, and Mitchell Page. Across the state, at UMass-Lowell, freshman Kendall Pomeroy is set to contribute to the pitching staff.  In the Big East Conference, the Ruffnecks are represented in three schools.  Senior Curtiss Pomeroy is a converted pitcher at Georgetown University.  He is joined on the staff by sophomore right hander Kevin Superko.  Freshman Matt Messier has already logged some innings for St. John’s University, while Woody Bryson is contributing to the Villanova University pitching staff.  Jacob Lamb is off to a good start for the University of Richmond.  The freshman is 1-0 in two appearances with a 0.00 ERA.  Wills Montgomerie is 1-0 in three starts for the UCONN HuskiesCam Walsh is getting some early season experience as a freshman outfielder for Northeastern University, while George Hewitt is a freshman on the roster at the University of Michigan.

These are some of the many Ruffnecks players who have gone on to play baseball at the collegiate level.  In a few weeks we will post an update from the ranks of Division II and III, where numerous other Ruffnecks players have advanced to top academic schools.  We wish all our Ruffnecks alums a healthy and prosperous 2016 baseball season.

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