Nick Ahmed, Corbin Burnes, Zack Godley, Kevin McCarthy, Kyle McGowin. All five players are currently playing Major League Baseball and each one of them enjoyed, at the very least, one summer on the East End competing in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.
That list is expected to increase after another 18 HCBL alumni were selected in MLB’s First-Year Player Draft last week. That increases HCBL’s number of players drafted to 153, with 16 of them having reached the Big Show at some point.
HCBL President Sandi Kruel was thrilled with the number of former players selected in this year’s draft, and said it speaks to the quality of the product that is put on East End fields each summer. There are over 125 college baseball leagues in the country. So the league is in continuous competition with other leagues, Kruel said, but only 13 of those 125 are affiliated with the MLB—and the HCBL happens to be one of those leagues. On top of that, the HCBL was recently selected as one of the top 10 leagues in the country to play in, which has increased its popularity with universities.
“When that happens, you get better candidates,” Kruel said. “Instead of getting a redshirt freshman, colleges will send us a sophomore with some innings. So once you start to build up your criteria, you get recognized by better colleges who send you better players.
“Each year, [director of recruiting Brett Mauser] works really hard to break into new programs,” she added. “This year it was Alabama, which is huge. The year we got Sam Ryan, we broke into VCU and they’ve been sending us players every year. So each year, we’ve gotten better and better and it is this sort of domino effect.”
All seven of HCBL’s seven teams were represented in the draft, but it was a pair of former Southampton Breakers who were taken off the board on day two. Connor Lehmann (Saint Louis/Southampton 2017) was selected in the seventh round by the San Diego Padres. Lehmann didn’t spend too much time in Southampton, but he was a force out of the pen in his short time. He didn’t allow a run in just over eight innings pitched.
Simon Whiteman (Yale/Southampton 2017) was the second of three Breakers to be drafted, having been selected by the San Francisco Giants in the ninth round. Whiteman hit .347 and stole 19 bases in his summer with the Breakers, and was equally impressive in his four years at Yale, earning All-Ivy accolades three times and concluding his career by hitting .337 and going a perfect 34-for-34 on stolen base attempts. Off the field, Whiteman was a Rhodes Scholar nominee. On day three of the draft, the Oakland Athletics grabbed Long Island product Ed Baram (Adelphi/Southampton 2016) in the 30th round. The Adelphi righthander went 7-2 with a 1.32 ERA in his final season with the Panthers this past spring.
While Southampton had the earliest player selected in the draft, it was the Sag Harbor Whalers who had the most, with five of its alumni drafted.
It started with 2018 Whaler Luis Guerrero, who was taken in the eighth round by the Houston Astros. Guerrero hit .348 with five homers and 48 RBI as a sophomore for Miami-Dade Community College.
The Whalers then saw four former players selected on day three. Righthanders Sam Ryan (VCU) went in the 12th round to the Toronto Blue Jays, then Nick Morreale (Georgetown) went to the Giants in the 14th round. Preceding them by a year in Sag Harbor were first baseman Griffin Dey (Yale), a 23rd-round pick of the Detroit Tigers, and pitcher Justin Washington (Savannah State), who was taken in the 35th by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A couple of other notable players who were selected in this year’s draft were lefthanded pitcher Ryan Smith (Princeton/Montauk 2016), an 18th round pick by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and slugger Tyler Osik (Central Florida/Riverhead 2015, Westhampton 2017), who will follow the footsteps of his dad, former major leaguer Keith Osik, after being selected in the 27th round by the Chicago White Sox.
Mitch Calandra (Eckerd/Southampton 2017) was also drafted, in the 30th round pick by the Atlanta Braves, and Logan Steenstra (Cowley College/Shelter Island 2019) was the only current player in the HCBL who was drafted. Following a standout sophomore season in which he hit .306 with 28 RBIs at Cowley County Community College in Kansas, Steenstra was picked in the 40th round by the Twins.
“The caliber of player on Long Island—and in the Northeast in general—feels like it’s getting better and better with each passing year,” said Mauser. “We’re proud to be a league that helps these and other players develop their talent, and look forward to keeping an eye on them as they climb through the professional ranks.”