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Isan Diaz Leads 7 Ruffnecks in Banner MLB Draft

Diaz Homers at Area Code 2013

Exciting news exceeded Isan Diaz’s expectations when he was selected in the second round as the 70th overall pick in the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.  He led a record number of seven former Ruffnecks to be selected in the 2014 MLB Draft.  Diaz became the highest selection ever for a Ruffnecks player when the Arizona Diamondbacks came calling.  Virtually all 30 MLB organizations were following Isan Diaz over the past year and a half.  His 2013 summer with the Ruffnecks was a “break out season” that drew considerable attention to the Sprimgfield, Massachusetts native.  Former Ruffnecks skipper Dan Brookes met Isan Diaz in 2011 when Brookes was a teacher and Diaz was a student at Springfield Central High School.  Isan came to the Ruffnecks program in 2011 and played his 16U season under Coach Fredericks and the 2013 season with Coach Kevin Casey as the skipper.  Diaz joined fellow Ruffnecks Paul Campbell and Will Toffey on the 2013 Area Code Team, and enjoyed considerable success, leading to the attention of Major League scouts.  Nevertheless, Isan Diaz found a home and a family in the Ruffnecks that he considers “the most important baseball experience in my life.”  He has always been most loyal and gracious about the opportunities the Ruffnecks provided.  He even credits some of the hard lessons, such as when he forgot his game shirts on the bus in New York when the team flew to Auburn University for a tournament during his first season as a Ruffneck.  Without his uniform tops, the coaching staff did not allow him to play (or borrow a teammate’s shirt) until he made arrangements to get his uniform shipped to the hotel in Auburn, Alabama.  After chasing down the bus line and making arrangements to ship the shirts by next-day-air, Isan was able to get himself back in the lineup after watching the first day’s action at Auburn University.

On the morning after his selection, Diaz spoke from the heart both by phone and in a text message to the Ruffnecks.  He stated, “I couldn’t have done it without the help of the Ruffnecks and the Ruffneck family, it was an honor to be a part of the Ruffnecks organization and I was blessed to be a part of something like the New England Ruffnecks.  Thank you for everything, and I should be soon making a stop in Boston to come see the Ruffnecks play.”  From all of us in the Ruffnecks organization and from all your teammates, we wish you success getting to the  Big Leagues.

Six Additional Ruffnecks Alums Also Drafted

Isan Diaz & Will Toffey

Six other Ruffnecks alums were also taken in this year’s draft.  Austin DeCarr (older brother of current Ruffneck Blake DeCarr) was selected in the 3rd round by the New York Yankees.  DeCarr played in the Ruffnecks organization for four seasons.  Adam Ravenelle, a junior at Vanderbilt University, was selected in the 4th round by the Detroit Tigers.  Ravenelle was a five-year Ruffneck, beginning as a 13U player.  He also played his high school baseball for Kirk Fredericks at Lincoln-Sudbury.  Carl Anderson, also a Lincoln-Sudbury grad and a Bryant University star was selected in the 19th round by Pittsburgh.  Will Toffey, who played on last year’s team with Isan Diaz was selected in the 23rd round by the NY Yankees.  Bill Beresznewicz, another of Coach Fredericks’ Lincoln-Sudbury players was selected in the 28th round by the LA Dodgers.  Finally, Jamill Moquette, who played with the Ruffnecks for two years (2008-2009) and a standout at UMass Boston was selected in the 32nd round by the Baltimore Orioles.

The Ruffnecks remain committed to developing players in the context of a College Development baseball program.  Nonetheless, it is a privilege to celebrate the success of those among us who actually have a chance to chase the dream of millions of American boys.  It is a dream that only a few awake to in the realm of reality, so we take this opportunity to give the a “virtual hug and high five” while wishing them success if they choose to undertake the professional journey.  We are grateful to have contributed in a small way to that journey.

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Westmoreland Is a True Model for Ruffnecks

On Thursday night, January 23rd, Ryan Westmoreland was honored by the Baseball Writers Association of America at the 75th Annual Boston Dinner.  The former Ruffnecks player and Red Sox top prospect received two standing ovations from a sold out crowd of nearly 1,500 that featured many Red Sox players, media, and other sports luminaries.  Westmoreland was recognized for his courage and determination in battling a condition that caused bleeding in his brain and derailed his career in 2010.  Amazingly, Ryan rehabilitated to the point where he made a comeback, even playing in several games with Red Sox prospects in the Dominican Republic.  His career was ended when he needed a second brain surgery in 2012.  The scope of what Ryan Westmoreland has had to endure is difficult for young players in the Ruffnecks program to understand (or anywhere else for that matter).  Nevertheless, we keep Ryan in our thoughts and make sure our players understand who he is, and what he stands for.  Ryan continues his life as a productive 24 year old who once had the dream of playing Major League Baseball at his fingertips.  An excellent student at Portsmouth, RI high school, he was a three sport athlete.  He was committed to Vanderbilt University on a baseball scholarship in the fall of his senior year in high school (he was NOT an “early” commit).  However, when he was drafted in the 6th round by the Red Sox, Ryan decided to go pro.  He played for the Ruffnecks at 16U and 17U.  In keeping with his extraordinary character and determination, Ryan has returned to college at Northeastern University while he continues his rehabilitation and faces his 15th surgery to address the lingering effects of the two major aforementioned surgeries.

Ruffnecks Respect for Westmoreland

Ryan Westmoreland on Signing Day with Sox 2008

Not only was Ryan a member of the first “College Prospect” team in 2006, he was the first Ruffnecks player to make the Area Code Team and the first ever to be drafted.  Yet those who worked with Ryan and those who played with him know firsthand about his love for the game and that he played baseball because it is fun.  His approach was never to be on display for himself or to stand apart from his teammates.  He never clamored for attention.  His Area Code coach, Yankees Scout Matt Hyde says, “He was most certainly not a showcase player. This is a kid who played three sports in high school… was always about the game and his team.  Ryan was an extremely confident kid on the field, yet very humble off the field.  He never pretended to be finished developing as a player.  What made him stand apart was the smile he had playing the game and the ease with which he played it.  The closest player on Area Code we have had since Ryan was Mike Trout, now in the Big Leagues with the Angels.”

The Ruffnecks continue to honor Ryan and to remind our players about his legacy.  His number 25 was retired at the 2012 Ruffnecks Banquet.  The Lowell Spinners (Single A affiliate of the Red Sox) retired his #25 several weeks ago as well.  Ruffnecks batting helmets continue to sport a “Westy 25″ sticker.  And just as important is the relationship we still have with Ryan and his dad, Ron Westmoreland, who continues to build a terrific baseball program in the Rhode Island/Fall River area.  The Rhode Island Junior Gulls operate out of In the Zone Baseball Club in Fall River.  They participate in NEBA activity and host several first-rate tournaments that Ruffnecks teams attend.  It is a relationship we value and respect, considering that Mr. Westmoreland trusted the Ruffnecks with Ryan’s development at a time when we were still finding our own way.  We congratulate Ryan Westmoreland on his recognition by the Baseball Writers of America.

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