ORONO, Maine — University of Maine baseball coach Steve Trimper said any time there are in-state players who can be significant contributors to his program, “they become a top [recruiting] priority. They’re a great fit.”
Bangor High School first baseman Anthony Capuano and Thornton Academy of Saco pitcher Jeff Gelinas fit that mold and they are two of the six players who signed their National Letters of Intent to attend Maine on Wednesday.
Capuano and Gelinas are joined in the recruiting class by catcher Patrick Coughlin from the Galt Collegiate Institute in Cambridge, Ontario; right-handed pitcher Joe Kinee from Goretti High School (Pa.); shortstop-second baseman Skylar Mercado from Archbishop Stepinec High School in the Bronx, N.Y., and center fielder Jake Osborne from Nelson High School in Burlington, Ontario.
“This class will provide us with the same talent we have brought in the last year or two,” said a pleased Trimper. “They will fill our needs left from graduation and what we may lose in the draft.”
Capuano, son of former University of Maine All-American hockey defenseman Jack Capuano and Donna (Stevenson), played for Bangor’s Senior League World Series runner-up team in 2010 and was selected the top hitter in the 18-Under World Wood Bat Association Tournament in Alpharetta, Ga. He was an All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference first team pick in 2011.
“Anthony is a heck of a hitter and he continues a legacy at Maine, although his dad played a different sport,” said Trimper. “Anthony was one of the big reasons Bangor got to the championship game in the World Series.”
Capuano also could be used as a designated hitter or corner outfielder, according to Trimper.
Gelinas is considered “the best pitcher in the state” by Trimper, who expects Gelinas to be a power pitcher when he gets to Orono and adds some weight and strength to his 6-foot-3 frame.
Gelinas struck out 44 hitters in 38⅓ innings last spring for the Trojans and held opponents to a .179 batting average. He tossed three complete games and was an SMAA all-conference pick.
Injuries and inconsistency plagued the pitching staff last season as the Black Bears posted a team ERA of 5.58 en route to a disappointing 28-28 season. Maine had won the America East Tournament and earned an NCAA Tournament berth in 2011.
And two of the three pitchers who started at least 11 games, Steve Perakslis and Jeffrey Gibbs, were drafted and signed pro contracts.
So there will be some new faces on the mound this spring and Gelinas and Kinee will bolster the staff in 2014.
“You can’t have enough arms,” said Trimper.
Kinee had the third-lowest ERA in southeastern Pennsylvania. He was a first-team all-conference pick as a pitcher and an infielder.
“He throws 86-88 miles an hour and he knows how to pitch,” said Trimper.
Coughlin won the Aaron Wagner Award (sportsmanship, dedication and perseverance) and won a high school Gold Glove Award; Mercado has started at shortstop for three years and was an All-American honorable mention last spring, and Osborne hit .600 in the New ERA Cap Classic and was named to the all-star team and the top Under-17 hitter at Florida spring training.
“Coughlin is a big, physical kid and was one of the best defensive catchers we saw. He’ll have a chance to step in right away,” said Trimper.
Osborne is a 6-foot-3 outfielder “who can run and hit,” said Trimper, and Mercado is a slick-fielding shortstop who is “exciting to watch.”
The eligibility of all student-athletes is contingent upon admission to the school and compliance with NCAA eligibility guidelines.