Silver Knights continue to see former players drafted
By TOM KING
NASHUA – The Major League Amateur Draft has come and gone, but once again, the Nashua Silver Knights were not ignored as three of their former players were selected.
Pitchers Gavin Hollowell (sixth round, No. 189 overall, Colorado Rockies), Sean Mooney (12th round, No. 359 overall, Minnesota Twins) and Ryan Berardino (34th round, No. 1,037 overall, Boston Red Sox) were selected last week. Mooney and Hollowell were key pitchers on the 2016 Futures Collegiate League championship team, while Berardino, a first baseman-outfielder, played in Nashua last season.
And remember, last year former Silver Knights Mickey Gasper and Max Burt were taken by the Yankees in the 20th and 28th round, respectively, and are thriving as a hitter at the Class A level.
And of course, Chris Shaw, who played in Nashua in 2012, was called up to the Majors by the San Francisco Giants late last season, but began this year in Double A Richmond. He is now hitting .303 in Triple A Sacramento.
“I think we’re almost up to 30 guys, it’s pretty good,” Silver Knights manager and VP of Player Personnel B.J. Neverett said. “That’s pretty good for nine years. We have some guys who are doing well in the minor leagues, too.”
Hollowell had a superb sophomore year in which he went 3-0, 2.56 with five saves, and opponents hit .138 vs. him.
This past spring he went 3-2, 4.23 in 21 relief appearances, but fanned 48 in 38.1 innings. He was so-so as a Silver Knight, showing potential despite going 1-3, 5.33, because his final start was seven scoreless innings in Game 1 of the 2016 FCBL semis vs. Seacoast.
“I’m not surprised about Gavin Hollowell, he had a very good career at St. John’s,” Neverett said. “And Sean Mooney was up for National Pitcher of the Year at one point during his freshman year. And Ryan Berardino, a lot of hard work there. He’s done really well. … He’s just tough. He’d grind out at bats, a good hitter.”
Mooney is most remembered for starting and winning the 2016 play-in playoff game vs. Wachusett. “Very steady, a good strike thrower, good second pitch, third pitch command,” Neverett said. “And Hollowell became the eighth, ninth inning guy at St. John’s this year.”
Mooney’s selection is interesting in that he underwent Tommy John surgery in April.
In 2017, he went 8-2, 1.72, with 88 strikeouts and 16 walks in 100 innings. Then in 2018, he went 11-3, 2.56, upped his strikeouts to 104, with just 28 walks in 95 innings as St. John’s won the Big East. This year, Mooney went 2-1, 2.17, throwing 49 2/3 innings, but then injured his arm in an April 13 no-decision vs. Xavier. And later in the month he had surgery. Yet the Twins liked what they had seen as a whole. He went 4-0, 1.02 with the Silver Knights in 2016.
“I was shocked when it happened,” Mooney told The Press of Atlantic City.
“It’s a good feeling to know all my hard work has finally paid off “But I just want to get healthy right now and then work my way up with the organization. It’ll be a slow process, but I’m ready for it.”
Berardino, of course, is the grandson of former Red Sox heralded right fielder Dwight Evans and organizational coach/manager Dick Berardino. He had gotten messages from friends that the Sox had taken him but didn’t believe them until he checked an MLB draft website.
“I laughed, I tought it was crazy,” he told the MetroWest Daily News. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Berardino hit .296 at Bentley this past season and last summer with Nashua hit .289 with a homer, and his 17 RBIs were tied for third on the team.
“We have guys this year that may have a shot,” Neverett said, saying that some of the high school graduates that are due to report soon may have a chance down the road.”
The top draftee coming out of the Futures League was UConn righthander Jacob Wallace, who played with Bristol in 2017 and was taken as the 100th pick overall by Colorado. Hollowell was the third highest FCBL choice, as former North Shore lefty Daniel Metzdorf (2015) was the second highest, tabbed 140th overall by the White Sox out of Boston College.
Some current FCBL players were taken, the highest being North Shore’s Marcus Lee Sang, 330th overall by the Phillies. Lee Sang is one of the league’s high school grads and has a scholarship to St. John’s.
“Our league as a whole had 32 kids (drafted),” Neverett said. “I looked at the list of the 32, there were a lot of good players that have come through this league.”
Neverett is expecting this year’s crop of high school grads to arrive sometime this weekend or early next week. They include infielders Liam Deegan (heading to Virginia), Andover’s Alex Lane (from St. John’s Prep, headed to Bryant), right pitcher Cam Schlittler out of Walpole, Mass. High (will be a Northeastern freshman) and Sterling, Mass. outfielder Barry Walsh (Wachusett Regional), headed to B.C. Lane and Schlittler have been playing in the Mass. Super Eight tourney.
Neverett on the slow start, especially when the team went 0-4:
“We’ve gotten to know the kids a lot better by now,” he said. “It just takes a little time. Some teams start off quick. I think the 0-4, I’ll attest it to the offense. We didn’t hit.”
The Knights had strong pitching to start, but have given up 21 runs in their last two games, losses to Pittsfield and Brockton. They’ve scored 11 in their last two, but are still hitting just. 213 as a team.
Thursday’s scheduled home game vs. Pittsfield, which was set to be the Knights first Dollar Beverage Night of the season, was washed out. No makeup info was readily available. They visit Bristol tonight and have a home-at-home with Westfield Saturday (home, 6:05) and Sunday (away, 5 p.m.).