By: Ryan Hill — Public Relations
Madison, WI — July 29, 2013. If anything sticks out today in the debut of the Northwoods League Big League Dreams Showcase, it will be the amount of Mallards uniforms taking the field trying to impress the scouts even more than they already have.
The showcase, which consists of a doubleheader with Northwoods League players picked by Major League scouts, features seven position players and two pitchers from the Mallards. All but one Mallards player will play in the nightcap.
Catcher Jason Goldstein (Illinois) is one of the two catchers listed on the South Division Game Two roster while Mallards fill three of the five infield spots. Two of the five outfield spots will also be donning the Mallards green and white. Goldstein, John LaPrise (Virginia), Geonte Jackson (San Jacinto CC), Erik Forgione (Washington), Tate Matheny (Missouri State), and Joe McCarthy (Virginia) round out the position players in the game. Mike Fitzgerald (Indiana State) was originally an outfielder in the second game but has since moved to the catcher position for the first game, which starts at 4:05 pm.
Two Mallards righties are also on the roster in Cam Verbeke (Illinois State) and Taylore Cherry (North Carolina).
Goldstein was the first true freshman for Illinois to start at catcher since 1992 this past spring and manager Donnie Scott said his presence he brings to the field has been much more than what is expected.
“He’s a leader out there,” Scott said. “He’s like having another coach on the field. But probably more impressive than anything has been his bat. He’s driven in a lot of big runs. And he doesn’t try to hit the ball out of the ballpark but he’s trying to hit it hard and that’s a great approach.”
Forgione, who is listed as the starting shortstop, is hitting at a .250 clip this season while Jackson, who is listed as the starting third baseman, is hitting .220 with seven RBIs.
LaPrise, who leads the Northwoods League in hitting with a .433 batting average, will start at second base. The freshman Cavalier didn’t play everyday this past spring at school but is sure to get much more playing time after the summer he is having.
“It’s crazy,” Scott said. “This guy just got as hot as can be. And the reason for it is because he’s got such a simple stroke. If he wanted to he could probably add some power. His approach is great and he’s going to get stronger. It’s just incredible how often he centers the baseball.”
Matheny leads the Mallards in home runs with eight and has also scored 44 runs while knocking in 38. Right beside him in the outfield will be LaPrise’s college teammate Joe McCarthy, who was the ACC Freshman of the Year. McCarthy is hitting .281 with three home runs and 29 RBIs this summer. Fitzgerald is tied for second on the Mallards in home runs with six and is hitting .270 with 24 RBIs.
The Mallards players with perhaps the most upside are Verbeke and Cherry. Verbeke is 5-3 with a 3.71 ERA but has struck out 52 batters in just 46 innings. Cherry, who stands at 6’9” and weighs 270 pounds, has started in five games and holds a 1-0 record with a 3.04 ERA.
“[Verbeke’s] kind of old school,” Scott said. “He drops down at different angles. And he’s definitely a bulldog out there. He gives it everything he’s got every pitch he throws. That impresses scouts more than anything. The guy’s got good stuff and he works hard at it.”
Cherry was rarely used in his freshman season with the Tar Heels, but Scott says that the sky is the limit for the big man from Dayton, Ohio.
“He’s got fire in him,” Scott said. “He really does, but you really wouldn’t be able to tell. If you were watching from the side, you’d think that he’s just throwing the ball in there. But I think there’s a chance this guy might be one of those 97, 98, 99 miles an hour kind of guys down the road. But that’s going to come with a lot of hard work.”