BRISTOL - The transition to college can be a challenging, scary one for any high schooler heading into the next phase of their life. That’s no different for baseball players.
But a pair of Connecticut natives set to join head coach Jim Penders’ UConn baseball program will have the difficulty of that adjustment lessened a bit due in part to help from the Bristol Blues.
Andrew Marrero - a 2019 graduate of Wilbur Cross and a New Haven native - and Garrett Coe - of Lakeside and 2019 graduate of The Gunnery School - were signed by the Blues on July 5 and have been able to speak with Tim Pfaffenbichler, a future UConn teammate and fellow Blues relief pitcher, about some of the experiences they will soon have with the Huskies.
“Tim’s been helping out a lot with helping preparing us for how we should go into the season, and … the certain situations and workouts we have to work on and what we should expect going into the season and how things are gonna roll,” Marrero said. “I feel like he helped out a little bit more with preparing me for how I should do things and what my mentality should be as well.”
Pfaffenbichler, who has been out for a week after suffering a minor knee injury, underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2018, missing his senior season at Windsor Locks. While still recovering from the injury, the right-hander redshirted his freshman season at UConn so he hasn’t given Marrero or Coe any advice on how to handle game situations for Penders’ club. But during Marrero’s overnight visit when he was still considering coming to UConn, Marrero says Pfaffenbichler was welcoming during a brief talk.
“I saw that Tim was really humble,” Marrero said. “He was very open with us. He wasn’t a person that was gonna try and stay to himself. He really stood out there with all of us.”
Pfaffenbichler has had more interaction with Marrero than Coe thus far. He hasn’t been around Coe as much in the bullpen, but he’s still excited about each coming to Storrs.
“I’ve gotten to know them on the Blues,” Pfaffenbichler said. “It’s gonna be really fun being teammates with them. They’re both really good guys, and I’m just looking forward to it. … I’ve been getting to know them on and off the field, and they both seem like they’re gonna be really good players on the team.”
Marrero says Pfaffenbichler’s advice has helped the prospect of joining the college ranks a bit less daunting.
“I was a little nervous because it’s a big transformation going from AAU to playing kids that are in college. It’s a big difference,” Marrero said. “It was really hard but then I started to soothe in a little bit and calm down. I think I’m gonna be fine. I’m feeling really comfortable with where I’m at with the boys and all that.”
Also helping the transition for both Marrero and Coe has been the fact they are each enrolled in summer school at UConn, and they have gotten familiar with each other’s personalities and how they play the game - both at school and while hanging out in the Blues’ bullpen.
“Usually [we talk] about how excited we are for UConn or what we would do if we were facing the kid who’s up to bat,” Coe said. “The Blues definitely helped me just with being a lot more comfortable when I got to school, knowing that I had someone I was already kind of clicking with. That made it a lot easier.”
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org