NEW BRITAIN – It is still unclear when, and if, the New Britain Bees will have their inaugural season in the Futures League in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has already led to the cancellation of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, and the Futures League has announced a delay to the season.
But the Bees did recently meet with New Britain mayor Erin Stewart about protocols that would be put in place should the season be held, so there is at least some hope that there will be baseball at New Britain Stadium this summer.
Should a season happen, likely an abbreviated one, the Bees have their full roster set for the 2020 campaign, including a few local products. Let’s take a look at the team that will be potentially suiting up for the Bees in their first season as a summer collegiate team.
The Bees’ roster carries 14 pitchers, with 11 of them coming from Connecticut. The local highlight is former Goodwin Tech baseball star and Bristol Blues pitcher Tommy Hughes, who is from Newington and is a junior at Southern Connecticut State University. Tim Blaisdell is from nearby Wethersfield and will be part of the pitching staff after his season at the University of Hartford was cut short due to COVID-19. The pitching staff boasts three hurlers from Boston College including Brad Lombardi, Joe Mancini and Emmet Sheehan. Mancini tossed 53 innings as a freshman and was All-State at Fairfield Prep. Sheehan played with the Blues during the summer of 2018 and was selected to the Futures League All-Star team.
Behind the plate, the Bees are carrying three catchers, including Connecticut natives Mike Caruso and Christian Fagnant. Caruso, a two-time All-State selection with Lyman Hall, hit his first collegiate home run, which happened to be a grand slam, during his freshman campaign, and had five hits in eight starts before the 2020 season was canceled.
The infielders are highlighted by New Britain’s own Danniel Rivera, who played four years with the Hurricanes and recorded 100 career hits. His final at-bat for New Britain was a go-ahead home run in extra innings against Southington in the first round of the Class LL state tournament, and now plays for Southern New Hampshire. The infield also has two Central Connecticut State University products in Matthew Bertochi and Noah Martinez. Bertochi hit his first collegiate home run earlier this season for the Blue Devils, while Martinez would have been finishing up his freshman season.
In the outfield, UConn product Zach Donahue is part of the list, a former All-State talent from South Windsor High School, who didn’t see any time in an abbreviated freshman campaign with the Huskies. Another Division-I talent is Tony Socci of Trumbull, who was one of Fairleigh Dickinson’s best offensive performers before the season was cut short. Socci’s .543 slugging percentage was second-best on the team, and he recorded a multi-home run game against Iona.
The coaching staff includes Ray Guarino, the team manager and a coach at Yale, and pitching coach Brian Hayden, the longtime Guilford High School head coach.
There is still no date for a potential start to the season, which was originally supposed to begin on May 27. The Bees are scheduled to host the All-Star Game this season.