The Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England (FCBL) is summer collegiate baseball at its best, having been regarded as one of the most talented and competitive leagues in the country over its first decade of play.
Each franchise provides high quality, affordable entertainment, in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere. College players from around the country descend upon the New England region each summer to take part in a competitive league that closely mirrors the style of a minor league season, playing 56 games over the course of approximately nine weeks. More than 150 FCBL players have been drafted by Major League Baseball organizations.
The FCBL quickly gained in popularity in the community and is currently the highest-attended summer collegiate league in New England, having attracted more than two million fans to its games since being founded in 2011.
The ownership groups of both the Brockton Rox (Can-Am League) and the Lowell Spinners (Boston Red Sox affiliate) founded the FCBL in 2011 to provide another summer baseball opportunity specifically geared towards local talent. The league featured four teams -- the Nashua (N.H.) Silver Knights, Martha’s Vineyard (Mass.) Sharks, Torrington (Conn.) Titans, and Seacoast Mavericks (Portsmouth, N.H.) -- during its first year of existence.
The FCBL earned immediate credibility and success both on the field and at the gates in 2011, and the league expanded from four teams to nine after just one summer of play.
The Wachusett Dirt Dawgs (Leominster, Mass.), Pittsfield (Mass.) Suns, Old Orchard Beach (Maine) Raging Tide, North Shore Navigators (Lynn, Mass.), and the Brockton (Mass.) Rox were all added as expansion franchises in 2012. The Goldklang Group operates the Pittsfield franchise, as well as four other minor league teams in the Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs, Fort Myers (Fla.) Miracle, Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Renegades, and St. Paul (Minn.) Saints.
After Nashua won the first two championships in FCBL history and Martha’s Vineyard captured the 2013 title, Worcester, Mass., became the league’s 10th community in 2014. The Bravehearts raised the trophy at the end of their inaugural season playing at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field on the College of the Holy Cross campus.
Appearing in the championship series in every year of its existence, Worcester has won two sets of back-to-back titles in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019. The Bristol (Conn.) Blues joined the fold in 2015 and played for the title in two of their five FCBL seasons.
In 2017, the FCBL made national headlines by becoming the first baseball league to substitute traditional extra innings with a “Home Run Derby Wins It” tiebreaker. All FCBL games tied after 10 innings are decided by a home run derby, with each team getting three minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner of the derby wins the game!
The league also saw expansion to Westfield, Mass., with the Starfires in 2019 and acquired a former professional Atlantic League franchise, the New Britain (Conn.) Bees, in 2020.
The 2020 season was unlike any other as the FCBL navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to put on a 39-game season. Two of the league’s ballparks welcomed fans at a 25 percent reduced capacity, and the schedule was completed without interruptions and saw Nashua win its league-record fifth title in an exciting three-game series against Worcester.
As the only regular New England-based summer league in action in 2020 due to the pandemic, the FCBL drew significant attention from Major League Baseball scouts all season and had three regionally-televised games on New England Sports Network in August. The league also benefited from a streaming partnership with BlueFrame Technology, bringing all online game broadcasts under one umbrella for the first time ever with the creation of the FCBL Network.
Through just one decade of play, more than 150 FCBL players have been drafted by Major League Baseball teams. Former Pittsfield Suns player Cade Cavalli, who starred at Oklahoma, became the league’s highest-ever draft pick when he was selected 22nd overall by the Washington Nationals in 2020.
Former Torrington pitcher Tyler Bashlor became the first league alumnus to debut in “The Show” when he appeared for the New York Mets in 2018. Boston College product Chris Shaw, the FCBL’s 2012 Top Pro Prospect for the Nashua Silver Knights, made his debut with the San Francisco Giants later that year, while Northeastern’s own Aaron Civale pitched for the Cleveland Indians in 2019 after being a part of Worcester’s inaugural FCBL team.
As a result of its continued growth, the FCBL was selected to host a series of U.S. Collegiate National Team games during the summer of 2017. Team USA’s annual tour included an exhibition game against selected FCBL prospects, while its Collegiate All-Star Series against Japan included games at Worcester, Nashua’s Historic Holman Stadium, and Brockton’s Campanelli Stadium, as well as in Lowell, Mass., and Hartford, Conn. That year's Team USA roster included former FCBL pitchers Tim Cate (UConn/Bristol) and Bryce Tucker (UCF/Brockton), who are both currently playing affiliated baseball.
WHO PLAYS IN THE FCBL?
Any student-athlete who wishes to play in the FCBL must be currently enrolled in a NCAA- or NAIA-sanctioned college or university, be in good academic standing, and have at least one year of collegiate eligibility remaining.
While the vast majority of summer collegiate leagues require players to have completed their first year of eligibility, the FCBL allows top incoming freshmen to participate as well. The league has attracted additional talent from top New England programs like Boston College, UConn and Northeastern, as well as national powers like Vanderbilt and Virginia, as a result of this rule.
FCBL bylaws mandate each team have a minimum 26-man roster, with at least 13 of those players selected from a New England-based college, be a New England native, or both. The league strongly suggests that student athletes have their college coach and/or a MLB scout recommend them to a team’s general manager.