UMaine players wait for MLB draft, gear up for summer ball

Tommy Lawrence
Carter F. McCall
Tommy Lawrence
Posted June 06, 2013, at 7:26 p.m.
Mike Connolly
Courtesy photo
Mike Connolly
Mike Fransoso
Courtesy photo
Mike Fransoso

The college season ended less than two weeks ago for the members of the University of Maine baseball team, but most of the Black Bears have planned a busy summer on the diamond.

A handful of UMaine players hope to be selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft, while numerous others are gearing up for college wooden-bat leagues.

As far as the draft, which began Thursday, UMaine has three hopefuls who are expected to receive consideration, according to head coach Steve Trimper.

Mike Fransoso, who completed his UMaine career in the America East Baseball Championship, is the only senior expected to be a potential pick. The shortstop from Portsmouth, N.H., was named to the Louisville Slugger All-America Third Team and was chosen the America East Player of the Year.

The smooth-fielding Fransoso batted .352 with four home runs and 49 runs batted in. He led the Bears in hits (74) and runs scored (45) and ranked second with 20 stolen bases in 24 attempts.

The Bears’ other candidates who could garner attention are junior pitcher Tommy Lawrence and junior Mike Connolly, who caught and pitched for UMaine this season.

Lawrence, a transfer from West Haven, Conn., set a school record with 11 victories. The right-hander posted an 11-3 record with a 2.32 earned run average en route to the America East Pitcher of the Year honor.

He allowed 95 hits in 104 2/3 innings with 78 strikeouts and 25 walks while holding opponents to a .250 batting average.

Connolly was a two-pronged threat for UMaine. The righthander from Bridgewater, Mass., was an all-league first-team pick behind the plate and a second-team choice on the mound.

Connolly hit .310 with one home run and 14 runs batted in and threw out 27 of 52 opponents trying to steal. As a pitcher, he was 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA, giving up 60 hits in 76 2/3 innings.

He struck out 46, walked 26 and held opponents to a .221 average.

Trimper said if any or all of the three are selected in the draft, it likely will be in rounds 11-40 on Saturday.

Bears plan busy summer

UMaine players will be scattered throughout the northeast, and beyond, for the summer season.

Trimper explained 21 players have landed spots on teams from Sanford to Bellingham, Wash.

“I think this year is a record,” he said. “It’s a combination of having some success the last few years, and we’ve got good players. We’ve got kids who want to go play.”

Only two Black Bears, Lawrence and Scott Heath of Westbrook, are aligned with Cape Cod Baseball League teams, both with the Chatham Anglers.

Trimper said Heath is on a temporary contract and would hook up with the Sanford Mainers of the New England Collegiate Baseball League if he doesn’t stick on the Cape.

“He’s going to pitch more than he’s going to hit,” Trimper said of the lefthander. “He needs some innings, he needs to get some work. “

Sanford, which is coached by former UMaine star and assistant coach Aaron Izaryk, also will be the summer home for Bears second baseman Troy Black, outfielder Sam Balzano of Portland and pitcher Charlie Butler.

Three players are in the Great Northwest. Alex Calbick, Connolly and Luke Morrill of South Thomaston have signed on with the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast League.

“They came to me and said they wanted a different experience,” Trimper said. “Alex was going, it’s about two hours from his house, and then Mike said he wanted to go, too.”

In the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, UMaine will have a strong presence on the Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide. That ballclub will include outfielders Brian Doran and Nick Bernardo, catcher Fran Whitten and shortstop Shane Bussey.

Eric White of Brewer is with the Nashua Silver Knights, Brenden Geary has hooked up with the Pittsfield Suns, Jonathan Salcedo is playing for the Seacoast Mavericks and Kyle Silva is on the Brockton Rox roster.

Outfielder Colin Gay and pitcher Logan Fullmer have landed with Amsterdam of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. Jake Marks and Burk FitzPatrick will play in leagues near their respective homes.

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