Where College baseball goes to heat up

by Jeff Noreman (photos by Jeff Noreman)

a preview from our printed College Edition…

IMGP4315Most college baseball programs in the northern part of the country are challenged to begin their season promptly. The temperature and precipitation are only part of the problem. Natural grass fields, or turf fields with dirt around the bases are many times saturated and render those fields unplayable.

Some colleges, especially Division I schools, schedule their own trips to warmer climes, playing schools on their home fields. Others, including many Division III colleges will attend an invitational where they can compete against a number of opponents during a single trip to a location with more appropriate baseball weather. One of the oldest and most successful events is the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational.

ChainOfLakesAerial01From Monday, February 17th until Tuesday, April 1st this year, the RussMatt Invitational schedule included 964 games. Although most participating teams were at the DIII level, RussMatt also had DI, DII, NAIA, and JuCo match ups, as well as an occasional cross-division contest. Many teams also conducted practices while visiting Central Florida.

The RussMatt Invitational primarily uses two facilities – Lake Myrtle Park in Auburndale and Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Florida. During its busiest weeks when the RussMatt schedule includes as many as 70 games each day, with games played at nearly every high school and college field in Polk County. It hosts approximately 200 teams each year, which is more than all other Florida spring break tournaments combined.

Joe Doyle and Dave Barnard of the RussMatt Invitational

Site Director Joe Doyle and Tournament Director Dave Barnard of the RussMatt Invitational.

The Invitational was the brainchild of Dave Barnard, former baseball coach at Williams College in Massachusetts. His sons Russ and Matt, for whom the annual event is named, are now 18 and 16 years old and attend high school in Maine. While at Williams, Barnard explored his options for early season games for his team.

“I stumbled upon the idea,” explained Barnard. “Williams always played at Tampa, because (George) Steinbrenner (former owner of the Yankees) went to Williams. The problem we had was that all the (college) teams went to Ft. Myers, and we couldn’t get teams to come up and play us in Tampa. When the Phillies built a new complex a dozen years ago, I called up the city of Clearwater and asked them what they were going to do with the Phillies complex. They said they didn’t know. So I said ‘why don’t we do a little tournament,’ and my whole motivation was so that we could play at the Yankees complex.”

The Wisconsin - Whitewater Warriors enjoy a matchup in the RussMatt Invitational at Lake Myrtle Park.

The Wisconsin – Whitewater Warriors enjoy a matchup in the RussMatt Invitational at Lake Myrtle Park.

The first year saw over 40 teams sign up and play, The second or third year, the Texas Ranger left Port Charlotte for a new spring training facility in Arizona, and Barnard arranged to use their Florida facility. Within six years, the RussMatt Invitational was the Spring Training stop for over 200 teams, and Barnard stopped coaching to make the event his full time endeavor.

Barnard has shifted facilities as the situation changed. The Tampa Bay Rays took residence at the Port Charlotte facility while Polk County was in the process of completing a new $8 million Lake Myrtle multi-sport complex. The Cleveland Indians moved to Phoenix and Chain of Lakes became largely dormant, so the RussMatt event moved a large number of contests there.

Out of the cold

by Jeff Noreman (photos by Jeff Noreman)

a preview from our upcoming College Edition…

Coach Dom Scala looks out at the Adelphi University baseball field.The return of baseball to fields all over the country is supposed to be a line of demarcation.  It typically coincides with the passage of seasons from winter to spring. Never was this transition more welcome than during the winter of 2014.

“The real story of this winter will be its persistence … aside from a (very) warm period in mid-January and just before Christmas, cold air has dominated, nearly wire-to-wire,” according to Kevin Tyle, a meteorologist at the University at Albany.

The city of Massena, NY, about 20 miles north of Clarkson University, experienced the State’s coldest temperature this winter with a low of -22 F on the morning of February 12th, 2014. Yes, that is a minus sign in front of that number. The average temperature there was approximately 19.0 F over the entire winter.

Adelphi University's baseball field under snowTo determine the snowfall leader, we turned to measurements taken at official National Weather Service observing sites. It appears the winner is Syracuse NY, with 107.8 inches (as of February 28th), but that’s just 7.7 inches above normal.  Buffalo is not too far behind with 104.2 inches, and that’s 26.0 inches above the normal for the winter-to-date.

“In terms of total seasonal snowfall, with the exception of the snowbelts between Syracuse and Watertown, and some headline-grabbing events in NYC, it has been a fairly typical winter,” continued Tyle. “But given the recent spate of mild, relatively snow-free winters, this winter ‘feels’ especially brutal. What will set this winter apart here in the Empire State is that it looks to extend well into March. The first half of March looks to be the most anomalously cold of the year to date,and this may have real impacts for the high school and collegiate baseball teams as they prepare for the season’s start. The existing snow pack looks to persist for a while.”

Rest assured, college baseball will be underway for all teams, later if not sooner.

Coach Dom Scala helps clear the baseball field at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.

Coach Dom Scala helps clear the baseball field at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.

“Own the Zone” Pitchers Boot Camp With Brent Strom

Get pitching advice and learn from one of the most respected coaches in baseball. Brent Strom has helped thousands of pitchers from ten years old through professional. Strom is the head pitching coach of the MLB Houston Astros. Learn the three absolutes of being a successful pitcher. See how about $5. of supplies from a hardware store can help you be a better pitcher. “Own the Zone” Pitchers Boot Camps with Brent Strom, on Monday January 21, 2014 (MLK Day), are proudly hosted by BPM Training & Media Center.

Own the Zone Pitchers Boot Camp with Brent Strom

Baseball Player Magazine Coaches Convention

12/17/2013, 11:30pm EST
By Brandon Kurz, 516.802.7158, brandon@baseballplayermagazine.com





BPM Training Center Announces Its Core Training Programs

12/17/2013, 12:45am EST
By BPM Staff

Baseball Player Magazine Training and Media Center has announced its core training programs. See below for infomation on some of the programs that will be offered at the Baseball Player Magazine Training & Media Center at 200 Robbins Lane, Jericho – Building D2.

BPM Bat Control

bpm_bat_control_logo_mediumBPM will teach a batter the difference of the parts of the swing and importance of learning each of them. Those include the stride, load, and separation. We’ll help the hitters be aware of getting their hands into a good position, palm up-palm down, staying balanced and always turning on your back foot. Each hitter will be taught to be short and quick to the ball to get the best results when hitting. A great help for the hitters is how we address their approach to their at bats, as hitting is a game where failing three out of ten times still makes you one of the best.

Every batter is individual, and we’ll work with what he brings to the plate. This will help a batter be successful against any competition at any level of the game.

Our hitting pros include Tom Merkle and Dan Luisi. Tom is the all-time home run record holder for local Division I program, New York Institute of Technology. Tom was also drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 15th round and playing in their minor league system for four years. Dan Luisi is a current coach on the northeast powerhouse Stony Brook University who played in the College World Series just two seasons ago.

BPM Commander

bpm_commander_logo_mediumBPM Commander is a progressive program for pitchers. It teaches pitchers high-velocity mechanics, with an emphasis on metal mindset, pitch selection and command. Everything a pitcher needs in his toolbox to become an elite pitcher and own the strike zone. Command the game and own the strike zone with BPM Commander.

Our pitching professional is Rob Savarese. Rob is the pitching coach for Briarcliffe College in Bethpage. He pitched collegiately for Farmingdale State College and professionally for five independent baseball teams.

BPM Defender

BPM DefenderThis six week program will help you improve your arm strength and your range on the field. You’ll develop greater mobility and most importantly refine your footwork. These are what separate the elite infielders from the rest. Although the program focuses on defensive fundamentals, the program is intense. It provides the training you need to become an elite defender.

Our defensive professional is Frank Intagliata. Frank is a Division II defensive record holder when he played at Dowling College. In 2009, Frank’s Dowling team became the first to reach the DII College World Series in Cary, North Carolina, where the Golden Lions defeated #1 University of California San Diego.

BPM Performance

BPM PerformanceBPM Performance will help a baseball athlete in many ways. We can pinpoint your physical strengths and weaknesses. We will perform an assessment at no charge. Then you can get a full movement analysis as well as body composition screening. Our professionals can help you create specific goals related to your desired results. We’ll help you clarify your commitment level, and then customize your training program.

Our performance professional is Mike Amendola, of Amendola Performance. Mike is certified as a CSCS, an MSC member, and holds both AAPTE and NASM personal training certifications.

To book a lesson or clinic for any of these programs, please call 516.802.7158 or e-mail info@baseballplayermagazine.com

Baseball Player Magazine Hosts MLB Hit, Pitch, & Run Competition

12/15/2013, 1:15pm EST
By Brandon Kurz, 516.802.7158, brandon@baseballplayermagazine.com



Russo Takes Pride In His Choice

12/13/2013, 7:00pm EST
By Jeff Noreman (photos by Jeff Noreman)

W. T. Clarke High School had a magical run in 2013, winning the Nassau County Class “A’ championship over the incumbent Plainedge Red Devils. A key player in that run was Jesse Russo of Westbury, New York.

Russo, a middle infielder who is now a senior, began playing on the Varsity in a limited role as a 9th grader, and had a breakout year in 2013 as a junior. He has committed to Hofstra University and the Pride Baseball team for the class of 2014.

When asked about his year, he described his team’s achievements rather than his own. He feels that the Rams can win another Nassau County Championship. Russo, an accomplished athlete, was selected as an All-County player in 2013. His high school coach Tom Abruscato describes him as a hard swinging, lefty hitter with 6.6 speed who batted .383 with 2 home runs, 22 RBI, 36 runs scored and 17 stolen bases.

“He will move from the leadoff spot to the three-hole,” stated Abruscato. “(Jesse is) a complete five-tool player with a great work ethic and attitude.”

Russo considers himself a well-balanced player, who takes pride in developing all of his tools equally. “Everything revolves around baseball,” explained the 5’10”, 160 lb. Russo. “It’s constant swinging, throwing, taking ground balls. I’m not a big guy, so I need every advantage that I can get.”

“I’ve always wanted more,” added Russo. “I work very hard, and with the support of my family, I’ve always known that I could do that (play college ball).”

After watching the Clarke team claw its way through a tough Class ‘A’ bracket, Hofstra University Head Coach John Russo (no relation) approached Coach Abruscato to inquire about his middle infielder. Coach Russo was interested in player Russo, and wanted to make an offer. After a visit to the college, a campus tour, and a sincere discussion, the school stood out as a clear choice.

“Jesse is a perfect fit for Hofstra,” said Coach Russo  He is as dynamic and explosive as he is versatile. We brought him in to play our style of baseball and hit in the top of the lineup. The most impressive aspect of Jesse’s abilities is his motor. He is a tough player and will play harder than anyone on the field.“

“Jesse has a tremendous desire to succeed,“ said his father Anthony Russo. “He’s taken it to another level because he keeps working. As long as he keeps working, there’s no stopping him. I love Hofstra. I think it’s the premiere baseball program on Long Island and that’s where he wants to play. I think it’s a great fit for him.”

“Jesse is the fastest player I’ve ever coached,” stated Kieran Black of the Whalers 17U team. “He is a caring, selfless teammate who is always hungry to help his team and edge out his opponent.”

Russo will be pursuing a degree in pre-law or business at Hofstra starting in the fall of 2014.

Northeast’s Top Draft Picks Visit BPM

12/02/2013, 9:15pm EST
By Jeff Noreman (photos by Jeff Noreman)

The Northeast part of the United States is not known as a baseball breeding ground. Nonetheless, there is a significant amount of talent that has grown from that part of the country.

Seven of the top drafted pitchers from the Greater New York area attended a meet-and-greet event at the new Baseball Player Magazine Training and Media Center on Saturday, November 30, 2013. These players, listed below in detail, were either born or played a significant amount of baseball in that area – and in several cases both.

Attendees had the opportunity to shake hands with all of the players, ask questions publicly as well as one-on-one, and even get a baseball signed.

The players all told their stories of working hard, getting noticed, being lucky and thankful, and succeeding at baseball as they grew up. They also said that the road was not always smooth, that all of their successes had peaks and valleys.

The ballplayers who attended were (in alphabetical order):

Ryan HorstmanRyan Horstman, LHP

Height: 6′ 1″, Weight: 185 lb.

Born: July 20, 1992 in South Hadley, Massachusetts, US (Age 21)

School: St. John’s University (Queens, NY)

Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 4th round of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft from St. John’s University (Queens, NY)

2013 Team: Everett AquaSox, Everett, WA (Mariners Short-Season A affiliate)

Rob KaminskyRob Kaminsky, LHP

Height: 5′ 11″, Weight: 191 lb.

Born: September 2, 1994 in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, US (Age 19)

High School: St. Joseph Regional HS (Montvale, NJ)

Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1st round (28th) of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft from St. Joseph Regional HS (Montvale, NJ)

2013 Team: Gulf Coast Cardinals, Jupiter, FL (Cardinals Rookie League affiliate)

Steven MatzSteven Matz, LHP

Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 192 lb.

Born: May 29, 1991 in Stony Brook, New York, US (Age 22)

High School: Ward Melville HS (East Setauket, NY)

Drafted by the New York Mets in the 2nd round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft from Ward Melville HS (East Setauket, NY)

2013 Teams: Kingsport Mets, Kingsport, TN (Mets Rookie League affiliate), Savannah Sand Gnats, Savannah, GA (Mets A affiliate)

John MinconeJohn Mincone, LHP

Height: 6′ 1″, Weight: 215 lb.

Born: July 23, 1989 in Huntington, New York, US (Age 24)

High School: Half Hallow Hills East HS (Dix Hills, NY)

School: Suffolk CC West (Suffolk, NY)

Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 11th round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft from Suffolk CC West (Suffolk, NY).

2013 Team: Brooklyn Cyclones, Brooklyn, NY (Mets Short-Season A affiliate)

Sean NolinSean Nolin, LHP

Height: 6′ 5″, Weight: 235 lb.

Born: December 26, 1989 in Seaford, NY (Age 23)

High School: Seaford HS (Seaford, NY)

Schools: San Jacinto College (Pasadena, TX), San Jacinto College North (Houston)

Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 6th round of the 2010 amateur draft. Signed July 13, 2010.

MLB Debut: May 24, 2013 (Age 23)

2013 Teams: New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Manchester, NH (Blue Jays AA affiliate), Buffalo Bisons, Buffalo, NY (Blue Jays AAA affiliate), Toronto Blue Jays

Marcus StromanMarcus Stroman, RHP

Height: 5′ 9″, Weight: 185 lb.

Born: May 1, 1991 in Medford, New York, US (Age 22)

High School: Patchogue-Medford HS (Medford, NY)

School: Duke University (Durham, NC)

Drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 18th round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft from Patchogue-Medford HS (Medford, NY) and the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1st round (22nd) of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft from Duke University (Durham, NC).

2013 Team: New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Manchester, NH (Blue Jays AA affiliate)

Brian VerbitskyBryan Verbitsky, RHP

Height: 5′ 11″, Weight: 205 lb.

Born: June 11, 1992 in Levittown, New York, US (Age 21)

School: Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY)

Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 3rd round of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft from Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY).

2013 Team: Eugene Emeralds, Eugene OR (San Diego Padres affiliate)

Baseball Player Magazine Top 100 Showcase – January 19th

12/02/2013, 5:42pm EST
By Brandon Kurz


Camp Details

Every year Baseball Player Magazine selects a list of the “Top 100″ baseball players on Long Island. This showcase will help determine the best baseball players on Long Island in the underclass (2014, 2015, 2016 Graduating Classes). The results will be printed in the Baseball Player Magazine Spring Preview Edition coming in March. The event will be covered by Baseball Player Magazine’s reporters and will feature NCAA Coaches & USA Baseball NTIS Scouts. Each player is expected to wear their high school team’s uniform or high school apparel so that BPM can help better promote the player and the high school program to which the player belongs.


BPM Top 100 Camps (Winter Sessions) are designed to provide players in the high school graduating classes of 2014-2016 with the opportunity to be instructed and evaluated by some of the best college coaches and USA Baseball scouts in the region. Players will have the opportunity to expand their baseball skills and benefit from a unique, competitive and challenging atmosphere. This camp is specifically designed for the high school baseball player serious about baseball and looking to continue playing at the next level(s) of the game. Camper evaluations will lead to determine if they are in the Top 100 Underclassmen in 2013′s Baseball Player Magazine High School Preview.

Coaches Attending:


Position Players

11:00 AM – 1:30 PM


1:30 PM – 4:00 PM



Dual Player – $400.00 (Pitching and Playing a Position)

What to Bring

Each player must bring his own baseball equipment. Players should bring a glove, bat, Helmet, cleats/spikes, running shoes or turf shoes, hat, and any other equipment they feel necessary to compete. Catchers must bring their own gear.

Meals at Camp

Meals will not be provided. Please bring your own lunch from home.


Thank you for this past weeks College Coaches Camp at Baseball Heaven. Your camp was well organized and ran the best out of all the showcases I have attended. - Nick Napoli

Just wanted to let you know how much my son, Spencer, got out of the Coaches Camp this week at Baseball Heaven. The program was terrific, and he especially enjoyed hearing you talk about pitching. I was very impressed with the camp as well–everything was first class all the way. - Ken Samelson

First we want to complement you on your College Baseball Coaches Camp as the best organized and well run camp that we’ve seen. Between the skills sessions and the actual games, the boys were always active and also learned new things to improve their skills. -Joe & Sally Veltri

Congratulations on a fine camp. My son Daniel told me it was the best showcase he has attended, in large part because there was so little “standing around”. The four-diamond facility is well-suited to accommodate such a large number of players, and the coaches kept everything moving. - John Reynolds


Please check your email regularly as this is our primary way we communicate. Any additional information that we need to convey as the camp draws closer will be passed on to you via the e-mail address that you supplied when you signed up for camp. Please make it a habit to check your e-mail daily, this will eliminate any confusion and or miscommunication.

Baseball Player Magazine Hosts First National Signing Day Event

11/16/2013, 7:30pm EST
By Jeff Noreman (photos and video by Jeff Noreman)

2013 Long Island NLI signees

2013 Long Island NLI signees

Baseball Player Magazine invited a select group of about ten elite local baseball players and their families to celebrate a day of recognition. These players were among a number of Long Island baseball players to receive offers to play college baseball, and November 13th was the first day that they could sign their National Letter of Intent.

A National Letter of Intent is a binding contract offered by an NCAA Division I or Division II four-year college or university to a prospective student-athlete. Junior colleges who are members of the National Junior College Athletic Association may also offer binding NLIs. What binds the institution and the student-athlete in an NLI is the offer and acceptance of financial aid based on participation in an athletic team at the school.

Kieran Black

The NLI Signing Event was hosted by Coach Kieran Black

The ceremony was hosted by Kieran Black, a varsity coach at St. Dominic High School and in the Long Island Whalers organization. Black has worked for the Long Island Whalers organization since 2010, assisting in the recruiting efforts of many of these students-athletes. In fact, he coached many of these ballplayers either with their school team or their summer travel teams.

“Having gotten through the whole process with all these boys, from having them learn to play the game at a high level… it was very rewarding for me to see them in this celebration,” stated Black. “The closure of knowing that they’ve achieved this was a great thing to be a part of. I couldn’t be more confident of what they’re all going to achieve from today forward.”

“They’ve been like brothers to me, and it’s great to see them accomplish their goals,” he added.

These ballplayers and their parents celebrated at BPM’s Jericho, New York headquarters to recognize their offers from various schools around the country. The players are listed below, along with a quote from one of the baseball coaches at their college:

Assistant Coach Dan Tischler, Columbia University, on Mark Flynn:

“We are excited to have Mark coming on board next year. He is a dynamic player who has potential to be a middle of the order bat. His physicality, along with his athleticism and baseball acumen, are a rare combination. Mark, as well as the rest of our 2014 Class, will help us continue to build and maintain a successful program.”

Head Coach John Russo, Hofstra University, on Adam Heidenfelder:

“Adam is a mountain of a man at 6-5, 240 pounds. His fastball is consistently in the upper 80’s and has topped out at 92. His breaking ball is Division I ready right now. We project Adam to come in and compete for a spot in the weekend rotation.”

Pitching Coach Chris Rojas, New York Institute of Technology, on Chris Johnson:

“I first saw Chris as a freshman in high school. I thought he was raw then, but he definitely had some upside. I saw a kid who became more mechanically refined, and he did it naturally. That impressed me. He could execute pitches and repeat that over and over, with consistent velocity. He can really spin the ball, too. I see him as a young talent that will get innings, and will compete for time with everyone on the staff.”

Pitching Coach Wayne Mazzoni,Sacred Heart University, on Alex Perry:

“Alex rounds out a great recruiting class for us. He brings both a great glove and bat, with great speed and even a chance to help us on the mound. …He gets it done on the field. On top of it all, he flat out lives the game. We are lucky to have him.”

Head Coach John Russo, Hofstra University, on Jesse Russo:

“Jesse is perfect fit for Hofstra.  He is as dynamic and explosive as he is versatile. We brought him in to play our style of baseball and hit in the top of the lineup. The most impressive aspect of Jesse’s abilities is his motor. He is a tough player and will play harder than anyone on the field.“

Pitching Coach Dustin Johnson, Binghamton University, on Dylan Stock:

“The first thing that stands out about Dylan is his athleticism. Dylan has a great arm and a natural ability to spin two different breaking balls. Although his experience on the mound is limited, his skill set is very advanced. I feel strongly that Dylan’s best days are ahead of him!”

“Many of these players have played for us for five, six, and seven years, “ stated Brandon Kurz, founder and President of the Long Island Whalers. “I’ve gotten to know them, their families, and everything that these young men represent. I’m proud to know all of these players and I look forward to following their college careers.”


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