RAPIDS, Iowa — The Watertown Wizards had high hopes for this
summer, and for good reason. Their roster includes six all-stars,
third-most in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. But with just two regular season games
remaining they are in sixth place with an 18-26 record.
we’ve really underachieved,” Owner and General Manager, Todd Kirkey
said. “But that’s because we think our league is pretty good
Amsterdam Mohawks sit atop the league standings at 35-10, with a
comfy nine-and-a-half-game lead over second place Newark Pilots. Both teams
have already clinched a playoff berth. Two games separate third
through fifth-place Glen Falls (26-20), Oneonta (24-21) and Mohawk
Valley (23-21), who are fighting for the last two spots this week.
playoff run is no longer a possibility for Watertown, they are one of
two teams (Amsterdam being the other) with two players who rank in
the league’s top 10 in ERA and batting average.
pitcher Rene Solis (St. Mary’s) is tied with Amsterdam’s Chandler
Shepherd for the league-lead in ERA (1.31). Solis’ batting average
against (1.72) is second best in the PGCBL, while his 49 strikeouts
as a sophomore at St. Mary’s, Solis was a finalist for the Tino
Martinez award, which is given to the Division-II player of the year.
reminds me of Tom Glavine, he’s that exact same type of guy,”
Kirkey said of Solis. “He doesn’t break 85-86 mph, but we kind of
make fun of his changeup because it stops in mid-air, you just don’t
see it coming.”
Nick Bradley (Western Michigan) ranks 10th among qualified starters
with a 3.74 ERA, and has been Watertown’s No. 2 pitcher this
Walter (Cal Poly Pomona) and Jordan Enos (Holy Cross) lead the team
in batting average with marks of .340 and .339, respectively. Walter
is also fifth among the league’s qualified batters in slugging
percentage (.536) and total bases (82), and is second in runs scored
(42). Enos is tied for fourth in the league with 15 doubles.
Gleason (Wabash Valley C.C.) leads the team with 40 starts and is
third with a .327 batting average.
there’s Brandon Cipolla (Holy Cross), one several players who
returned from last year’s team.
swing is playable now,” Kirkey said. “He puts the same swing on
every pitch and has power to all fields. He just stands out. Maybe
I’m being biased, but I think he’s the best position player in
missed several weeks last summer with a broken cheekbone after a
throw from shortstop hit him in the face while running down the first
base line. Following a standout season with Holy Cross, Cipolla is
batting .281/.434/.459 with five homers and 14 stolen bases in 135
at-bats for Watertown this summer. He’s also tied for the league
lead with 35 walks and was one of two players who homered in the
PGCBL All-Star Game last week.
fielder says he’s improved mentally this season, not only at the
plate but on the base paths as well. Like Cipolla, the level of play
across the league has gotten better this year.
the competition is very good in this league,” Cipolla said. “Just
judging by the All-Star Game the other day, I was talking to some of
my teammates, and we were really happy with the competition. It’s a
great league, a top-tier league. It’s definitely one of the better
spots to be in the summer.”
will enroll for his junior year as a political science major at Holy
Cross this fall. While the Cape Cod League may be an option for him
next summer, Kirkey thinks his future is even brighter.
wants to stay at Holy Cross and graduate, that’s going to be his
choice,” Kirkey said. “But I don’t see how he couldn’t get
drafted next year.”
Cipolla doesn’t return to Watertown next summer, his absence will
be one of many changes. Traditionally, the Wizards have targeted
freshman, who after a year at college and a summer in the PGCBL go on
to dominate in other leagues the next year. Kirkey vows to recruit
more experienced players next season, and plans to use Perfect Game’s
scouting services to do it.
that big-time first-round guy, that Stephen Strasburg type so the
PGCBL can say we had him, that’s our next big step,” Kirkey said.
“We need that guy that’s on TV every day”.
the Wizards have always been “ahead of the curve” with marketing
the team and getting players involved with the community. They do a
free camp with the local YMCA and visit schools, for example.
the league-wide reputation is important as well. And that requires
players spreading the good word.
thing I think our league has tried to prove is that we can get good
players from the SEC and we can get kids that are junior college,
NAIA and D-II and D-III guys,” Kirkey said. “That’s important,
because the players go back and tell their coaches, ‘This is where
we need to send guys.’ If those guys don’t go back and tell their
teammates how good the league was, then we’re fighting an uphill