‘The 100th Inning’ documentary spotlights Walter Bentson’s pivotal role in the Boston Park League and the deep commitment of its players in the enduring fight against ALS. Now streaming on Amazon.
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On behalf of the Yawkey Foundation Trustees and staff, we would like to extend our warm wishes for the upcoming year and share some reflections on 2022.
They’ve been playing the 100 Innings of Baseball annually since 2004 to raise money for ALS research. It was the idea of a local amateur ballplayer named Brett Rudy who got Umpire Chief Walter Bentson involved. Since then, folks have paid attention.
Amateur baseball players love to check out their performance – partially for vanity, but also so they can improve their game. They check out statistics, watch themselves play on videos, and use data analytics fine tune their skills. Luckily, there is plenty of technology that’s available without a big-league budget.
From TJO Sports in the Boston Park League to the Anaheim Angels in the MLB, Packy Naughton is ready to make his major league debut in 2021. Packy first pitched for TJO Sports in 2015, getting into 1 game and allowing just 1 hit in 3 innings with 7 Ks. From there, his college and pro career took over.
Naughton spent three years pitching in a variety of roles at Virginia Tech, and he pitched well in the Cape Cod League in 2016. This led to him getting taken in the ninth round of the 2017 Draft by the Cincinnati Reds. The southpaw pitched his way to Double-A in his second full season with Cincinnati and was at the Reds’ alternate training site when he was traded to the Angels in 2020.
In 2019, Naughton was named the Reds’ Minor League pitcher of the year. He did it with a fastball in the low-90s, an above-average changeup, and a usable slider. His stuff plays up because of the deception in his delivery, with a tilted front side helping his ability to hide the ball behind him.
In 2020, COVID canceled the Minor League Baseball season and Packy returned to the Park League. In 4 games pitched, he did not allow a single earned run.
When MiBL returned in 2021 season, he pitched 1 game in Double-A ball before making the move to the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees. So far in 11 games, he has gone 2-2, and in 51.2 innings has chalked up 49 K’s with a 5.23 ERA.
Packy is expected to make his Major League debut this week for the Angels versus the Texas Rangers, perhaps as early as tonight, where he could relieve starter Shohei Ohtani. Good luck, Packy!
It doesn’t take long to identify Josh Báez on a baseball field or to figure out why he’s the most highly regarded high school prospect out of Massachusetts in decades. There just aren’t a lot of players who, at 18, stand 6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds, and do the things he does on a field.
At a showcase event at the home of the minor league Hartford Yard Goats, he hit a homer that cleared the scoreboard. On the mound, he sits comfortably in the low to mid 90s while touching 98. In the outfield, he combines elite arm strength with excellent range.
It’s a combination that drew dozens of scouts to nearly every one of his games with the Dexter Southfield prep school team this spring.
“You work hard for it, so when people come out, take time out of their days to come scout you, it just feels good,” said Báez. “It helps me with exposure, and it helps my other classmates as well to give them more exposure.”
Báez is viewed as a potential late-first-round selection in next month’s amateur draft. The recent Dexter Southfield graduate, who has a commitment to Vanderbilt if he doesn’t sign, could become the first Massachusetts high school prospect to get selected in the first round since Peabody’s Jeff Allison in 2003 (16th by the Marlins).
In his 16-game senior season, Báez hit .378/.531/.622 with 3 homers, 16 walks, and 8 strikeouts in 64 plate appearances. In 18 innings on the mound, he had a 1.94 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 21 walks. While there’s still considerable development in front of him — no surprise, given his age and the fact that he, like everyone else, lost his 2020 campaign to the COVID-19 pandemic — his potential is dazzling.
“I’ve been in touch with David Ortiz and his father, just talking baseball and kind of talking about his career and where he sees me,” said Báez. “He said he loves everything about me.
“I have a bunch of tools, I have the physical side of it, and I have the world in my hands. I just need to stay focused and continue to work hard and everything else will come.”
While Báez has the arm strength to pursue a career on the mound, his prospect status is built primarily around the outfield — with the possibility of center field but a skill set that is better suited for right.
He shows prodigious power potential when he barrels the ball, but there are concerns about how frequently that will happen, given his size and the fact that he did swing and miss at pitches in the strike zone in high school. That underscores the uncertainty about his future — but it’s the sort of risk that teams historically are willing to take on high school players with huge upside.
“The comparison for me would be George Springer,” said Dexter Southfield coach Danny Donato. “I coached against him when he was at Avon Old Farms. They’re very, very similar. Josh has a little better tool set at this age. Not saying he’ll become George Springer, but he has a little better tool set.
“His tools are off the charts. Whether he puts them together, that has yet to be seen, but if he puts it all together, he’s a superstar in MLB.”
The conversations between Báez and the scouts who have tracked him have had familiar themes.
“I talk to professional scouts every single day,” said Báez. “They all say that I have a bunch of tools, a bunch of talent, a bunch of potential to be a major leaguer one day, but obviously that comes with more things that have to be polished. There’s a lot more work that needs to be done. I’m all for it.”
Indeed, few doubt Báez’s passion to play or improve. He was born in Boston but moved to the Dominican Republic as an infant before he and his family came back to Boston when he was 11. As he acclimated to a new culture, baseball fields helped him find a sense of home.
“It was where I made my friends,” he said. “Up to this day, my closest friends — the guys I train with and am with pretty much every day — are from baseball.”
With his high school season over, Báez is playing this summer for the Boston Blue Jays of the Park League while waiting for his future to take shape. While players who project to go as early as Báez does typically avoid playing in the weeks before the draft to minimize the risk of injury, Báez didn’t want to deny himself that joy, especially after the lost year.
Within a few weeks, he may be starting his professional career — or in a few months, he may be on his way to Vanderbilt. Either way, Báez insists he’s less concerned about where in the draft he gets selected than he is appreciative for the possibilities that are unfolding.
“I’m not looking to go anywhere,” he said. “I’m not really worried about the draft. We’re going day by day, and we’ll see on draft day where I end up, but I’m not stressing about anything.
“I know I have a commitment to a really good school. With the draft, it’s just seeing what happens. It’s not that complicated.”
Reported by Alex Speier (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Scholarship awards of $35,000 per year for first-generation students attending private Massachusetts colleges, plus mentoring & enrichment funding
The Yawkey Foundation today announced the opening of applications for its Yawkey Scholars Program, designed to make college affordable for talented, motivated, low-income, first-generation college-bound high school seniors from Massachusetts to complete bachelor’s degrees at private colleges in Massachusetts. On the program’s 15-year anniversary, the Yawkey Scholars Program has updated its scholarship award beginning with the 2021 Cohort by increasing the four-year renewable tuition scholarship to $35,000 per year.
In addition to the tuition scholarship, all Yawkey Scholars will continue to benefit from advisors for mentoring and guidance, as well as supplemental “Opportunity Funds” to offset the costs for enrichment such as experiential learning, summer abroad programs, and related opportunities that help Scholars achieve their academic and career goals.
“Our Foundation’s founders, Tom and Jean Yawkey, valued the importance of equitable access to education because they understood its ability to change lives – how academic achievement can provide pathways to economic mobility and improved outcomes across many fronts,” said Maureen H. Bleday, Chief Executive Officer of the Yawkey Foundation. “Nowhere is that better exemplified than through the impact and achievements of the hundreds of current and alumni Yawkey Scholars who are investing their expertise and passion to make their communities better.”
Since 2005, the Yawkey Scholars Program has provided more than $13 million in scholarships and supplemental support to more than 300 Scholars as they pursue a college education.
To be eligible for the Massachusetts Yawkey Scholars Program, applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- be a U.S. citizen and permanent resident of Massachusetts
- plan to attend a private, competitive college in Massachusetts
- have a family Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $125,000 or less and/or an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $25,000 or less
- have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (unweighted) on a 4.0 scale
- be among the first generation in their immediate family to complete a 4-year college/university degree
The deadline for applications is Friday, February 12, 2021 at 5pm. Application materials can be found at tpi.org/scholarship/yawkey-scholars-program.
About the Yawkey Foundation
The Yawkey Foundation perpetuates Tom and Jean Yawkey’s commitment to educational opportunity for underserved young people in the communities closest to their hearts – Massachusetts and Georgetown, South Carolina – through the development of unique scholarship and internship programs that provide pathways to academic success and economic mobility. Through the Yawkey Scholars Program, several Yawkey Nonprofit Internship Programs at colleges and universities, and a longstanding relationship with the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Yawkey Foundation has helped hundreds of young people as they pursue their academic and professional development aspirations.
Having awarded more than $500 million to-date in charitable grants to organizations focused on Health Care, Education, Human Services, Youth and Amateur Athletics, Arts and Culture, and Conservation and Wildlife, the Yawkey Foundation is committed to preserving and sustaining the charitable values of the Yawkeys by investing in impactful nonprofits providing resources, opportunity, and dignity to the vulnerable and underserved.
For more information about the Yawkeys’ commitment to education, the Yawkey Scholars Program, and the Yawkey Foundation, please visit yawkeyfoundation.org.
By Bruce Hack, ICL correspondent The Boston Park League All-Stars won its first ever EMABC game with a 2-1 victory over the host Intercity League in the opening game of the 2019 Eastern Mass Amateur Baseball Classic. On a beautiful day for baseball, one that would have Ernie Banks happy, the Park League won its […]
Walt Mortimer has been with the Boston Park League for 65 years, from the league’s greatest player, to a star league administrator. And now his likeness has been recreated in an alternate Boston Park League logo.
Tonight, we will honor Walt Mortimer, who is retiring after 65 years of service to the Boston Park League with both the Red Johnson Alumni Award and the President’s Award. The key word in the 1st award is ‘Alumni’, and no one has done more for the Boston Park League than Walt Mortimer since he […]
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