FCBL should tweak the incoming freshman rule

We’re into the meat and heat of July so it’s only fitting that we examine a key Silver Knight topic with just under a month to go, believe it or not, in the regular season:

First, what are your feelings on the number of recent high school grads playing in the Futures Collegiate League, especially for Nashua?

We feel there are pros and cons, but that the maximum number of five is too much. When the league opened things up for college coaches to place some of their incoming freshmen with the league, it was a brilliant idea. In fact, the first high school grad to play for the Silver Knights is now one call away from the Major Leagues – San Francisco Giants farmhand Chris Shaw, placed here by Boston College back in 2012. And, just as good, the most popular player in Silver Knights history, Ryan Sullivan, began in Nashua as a high school grad assigned here by his future school at the time, the University of Connecticut in 2013.

But back then, the FCBL limited the high schoolers to two slots per team. Now it’s up to five, and this year’s Silver Knights maxed out.

Is it too much? Perhaps. The two best 2018 high school grads on Nashua’s roster right now look like Exeter’s Cody Morissette, an infielder bound for Boston College who is hitting close to .380, and native Virginian Nick Biddison, a jack-of-all trades in the field (but hitting .254) who this week will be gone to attend Virginia Tech’s orientation.

“What’s unfortunate is sometimes the best players in the league are the kids who are high school players,” Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett said. “You see the player (Martha’s Vineyard reliever Chance Huff) we saw pitch (on Thursday) who is going to Vanderbilt, and the Geloff kid (Brockton infielder Zack) who is going to Virginia and plays for Brockton, those are some of the best players in the league.”

Huff is 1-0, 1.28 in six relief appearances at last look, with eight strikeouts in seven innings. Geloff, playing third for Brockton, is at last look hitting .375 in 19 games with 21 runs scored, to go with four doubles and three triples.

“I don’t know, I don’t know what the number is,” Neverett said.

We say cap it at three. Bedford pitcher Geoff Mosseau has battled every time on the mound, but with a 3.86 earned run average at last look doesn’t appear to be completely overmatched. San Diego’s Mason Pelio, who has yet to pitch at Holman and is bound for Boston College, does. At least that’s what his numbers (eight earned runs in five innings pitched, two starts) are telling you.

It’s like anything, hit or miss at times. Often these players struggle because they haven’t competed at this level. It’s not just who they are facing, it’s the daily grind of six games or more in a week, something most of the recent grads aren’t used to. But there’s always those who can compete with no problem.

It’s a tough call. These players usually arrive late – Biddison didn’t because he graduated earlier in Virginia than some of his teammates/league mates here in the Northeast. So they have to blend in. Morissette had no problem, and looked like he belonged from the start. Others haven’t.

Thus, while the Futures League is about, yeah, the future, it would be nice for some of these major schools to send a polished player or two instead. The way it often works is a school will be asked about a certain player, etc., and the response might be, “Well, he’s going (elsewhere), but how about this kid we have coming in?”.

Neverett has stayed strong with some of the best schools, because he doesn’t want a lot of rehabs and redshirts who haven’t competed in a while. But sometimes the incoming college freshmen have great credentials and are too good to pass up. Souhegan and IMG alum Bryce Reagan, for example, came with great history, but struggled mightily at times for the few weeks he was with the Knights before the University of Texas asked him to report early. It’s never a sure thing.

So what do we think? Let’s say for the high school grads, three’s company. Any more might be a crowd.

Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.tking@nashuatelegraph.com

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