WEYMOUTH, Mass. (August 18, 2020) -- Just days before a champion will be crowned, the Futures Collegiate Baseball League has announced its major award winners for the 2020 season.
Commissioner Joe Paolucci made Tuesday’s announcement following a vote of all six league managers. Six finalists were named last week for both the Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year honors.
With voting now complete and the championship series between the Worcester Bravehearts and Nashua Silver Knights just days away, below is a complete list of award winners. Statistics in this release include games through Aug. 16.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Ben Rice, Worcester Bravehearts, Dartmouth College
After joining the Bravehearts for the later part of their 2019 championship run, Rice returned to the team for a second straight year and now becomes its second MVP in three seasons. The Cohasset, Mass., native has shown off his powerful swing for first-place Worcester all summer long, currently pacing the FCBL with 11 home runs, 79 total bases and a .681 slugging percentage. His .345 batting average and 27 RBI lead the Bravehearts and rank third in the league, while his .469 on-base percentage is good for fourth. Rice has also recorded a pair of four-RBI games during the month of August.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Nick Sinacola, Brockton Rox, University of Maine
Sinacola becomes Brockton’s first FCBL Pitcher of the Year since 2015 after turning in a second consecutive dominant season from the top of the team’s rotation. The North Attleboro, Mass., native carries the No. 2 qualifying ERA in the league (1.62) into the final week of the season and has struck out a league-leading 55 batters while holding opponents to a .184 batting average in 39 innings of work. His second summer with the Rox has included two starts with double-digit strikeouts and three lasting seven complete innings. Sinacola was named the FCBL’s Top Pitching Prospect in 2019.
RELIEF PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Joey Walsh, Brockton Rox, Boston College
Like Sinacola at the front end of games, Walsh has been dominant while making 10 appearances out of the Rox bullpen. The left-hander from Plymouth, Mass., has allowed just five hits over his 17 innings of scoreless ball with Brockton this summer, striking out 24 against eight walks in that time. Walsh has held opponents to a miniscule .096 average. As of this writing, Walsh had not allowed a single hit over his last five appearances. That 10-inning stretch included an Aug. 3 win over Worcester in which he fanned five of the nine batters he faced.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ben Malgeri, North Shore Navigators, Northeastern University
A 2019 FCBL All-Star, Malgeri has been a mainstay in North Shore’s lineup for a second consecutive summer. The rising Northeastern junior from Stratham, N.H., has played in all of the Navs’ 36 games, recording 66 putouts over a league-high 73 total chances on the grass. He has also been credited with five outfield assists and helped turn a pair of double plays. Malgeri has been a steady defender all while standing among league leaders in numerous offensive categories, hitting .314 with 25 RBI and a league-leading 44 hits, 42 runs, six triples and 18 stolen bases.
TOP PRO PROSPECT
Sal Frelick, North Shore Navigators, Boston College
Two years after earning the FCBL’s Top Pro Prospect honor while first playing for North Shore as a graduating Lexington (Mass.) High School senior, Frelick returned to the league and delivered another stellar season to take home the award again. The rising BC junior has seen time in both the infield and outfield over his 22 games this summer, posting a league-leading .411 average with 25 runs scored, a .485 on-base percentage and .622 slugging percentage. Ranked 18th by MLB.com among 2021 draft prospects, Frelick started the season on a 17-game hit streak and has reached base in 20 of his 22 games.
TOP PRO PITCHING PROSPECTS
Reggie Crawford, Westfield Starfires, University of Connecticut
Ben Casparius, New Britain Bees, University of Connecticut
The first-ever FCBL Top Pro Prospect honorees from Westfield and New Britain are both hard-throwing UConn Huskies. The left-handed Crawford made five relief appearances for the Starfires, earning three saves while allowing just one run on five hits and striking out 10 over 6.1 innings. Crawford, a native of Frackville, Pa., struck out the side in his NESN-televised outing on Aug. 3 against New Britain. Casparius has impressed in three starts for the Bees over which he threw 12 innings, striking out 18 and allowing just one earned run on five hits. The Westport, Conn., product’s most recent outing on Aug. 9 featured five innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts against North Shore.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Kyle Jackson, Nashua Silver Knights
The Silver Knights started 2020 with three consecutive losses and five within their first nine games, but Jackson has helped Nashua turn its season around in his first year as manager and will lead the team looking to capture its league-record fifth championship. After Nashua finished sixth in the standings and lost a single-elimination playoff game a year ago, the Silver Knights enter the final week of this 2020 season with 21 wins and boast the top team batting average (.273), ERA (4.37) and fielding percentage (.968) in the league. Jackson, a New Hampshire native who was drafted and played in the Red Sox organization, spent the previous six years as Nashua’s pitching coach.
Mariano Ricciardi, Worcester Bravehearts, University of Dayton
The Futures League veteran from West Boylston, Mass., is this year’s choice for the Commissioner’s Award based on his commitment to the Bravehearts and the Worcester area over his four summers with the team. “He has a great reputation on and off the field and is a great representative of the FCBL,” Paolucci said. On the field, the rising Dayton senior and Worcester Academy product helped spark the Bravehearts to back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019. Ricciardi was a 2019 FCBL All-Star while ranking 10th in the league in average (.311) and first in doubles (17), and he played in four games this season before being sidelined due to injury.