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Roger Brown's State of Sports: Lavigne's time has come

June 03. 2018 9:21PM
Bedford High School Grant Lavigne vs. Exeter in the Div. I championship game in June 2017. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders quarterback Jake Allen (14) throws the ball against the Bishop Gorman Gaels during the first quarter at Fertitta Field. (Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports)

GRANT LAVIGNE said he’s focused on helping his Bedford High School baseball team win this year’s Division I championship, but his focus will undoubtedly shift in another direction for a least a few hours this evening.

The MLB First-Year Player Draft begins tonight (7), and many expect Lavigne to be selected early. Perhaps very early. In some mock drafts, Lavigne was projected as a possible selection in the second half of the first round.

“It’s a very exciting time for me,” Lavigne said. “I’m very honored that there are major league teams that think I can benefit their organization.”

Lavigne, 18, is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound left-handed hitter with exceptional power. Many see him as a first basemen in the pros, but he has also played third base and left field for Bedford this season. He runs very well, especially for someone his size. Even local high school fans may be surprised to learn that Lavigne has a team-high 18 stolen bases this season, which is the program’s single-season record.

Here’s Baseball America’s scouting report on Lavigne, who committed to Wake Forest when he was a sophomore:

“A 6-foot-4, 230-pound left-handed hitter, Lavigne has some of the best power among prep bats in the draft class with 70-grade raw power. Lavigne has been complimented for cleaning up his body leading up to the draft and is considered a a a decent athlete for his size, although he projects as a first baseman in most evaluators’ eyes. If that’s the case, Lavigne’s draft stock largely depends on his hitting. Lavigne has displayed good feel to hit this spring in New Hampshire — where the competition is questionable — and he will need to continue to hit in order to tap into his power, which is his one carrying tool. If a team believes in his bat, then Lavigne could easily go in the top three rounds. Worst case, Lavigne could head to Wake Forest, where he could build up a track record of hitting against ACC competition and maybe even prove he can handle third base or left field, which would significantly help his profile.”

Lavigne has started in every game during his four seasons at Bedford, and was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore and as a senior. The Bulldogs have a 73-13 record during his high school career.

Entering Wednesday’s Division I semifinal against Concord, Lavigne is batting .500 (25 for 50) with seven home runs and 30 RBIs. His career numbers (86 games): 102 for 222, with 16 home runs, 94 RBIs and 25 stolen bases. He has far more walks (81) than strikeouts (22) since he first put on a Bedford uniform.

Kevin Lavigne, Grant’s father, said representatives from 25 major league teams have been to the Lavigne house this spring, some as many as three times.

“They really want to know what makes a kid tick and if he’s signable,” Kevin said. “There are some organizations that attended two-thirds of his games. Clearly the Yankees have been an enormous presence. They’ve done an enormous amount of scouting of him.”

The Mariners, Red Sox and Cubs are among the other organizations that have had a heavy presence, Kevin said.

So Lavigne will soon have to choose between college and professional baseball. It’s a nice situation to be in, but a difficult decision nonetheless.

“I never really thought I would have this big of a decision to make,” Lavigne said. “Always figured I was heading to Wake Forest. Didn’t really know about the pro possibility until fall of last year.”

Lavigne said he plans to huddle with members of his family and watch the first round of tonight’s draft, which will be televised on the MLB Network. Kevin stressed that the intense scouting of his son this year resulted in a lot of extra work for Bedford coach Billy Chapman, who was the person in charge of satisfying scouts’ requests before and after games. Kevin said fitness instructor Joe Colotti and the late Bill Caswell, a local coach/baseball instructor, were also instrumental in getting Lavigne to the position he’s in today.

“It’s definitely a win/win,” Lavigne said when he was asked about the choice he’ll be forced to make. “I’ll be very happy either way.”

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ICYMI: Jake Allen, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound quarterback who would have been a redshirt freshman at the University of Florida next season, announced Friday that he will transfer to Dartmouth. Because he is transferring from an FBS school to an FCS program, Allen will be eligible to play for Dartmouth during the 2018 season.

Allen played high school football at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which is one of the top high school programs in the country. St. Thomas coach Roger Harriott was once the varsity football coach at Stevens High School in Claremont.

Described as a “pocket passer,” Allen apparently didn’t see himself as a good fit for Dan Mullen’s offense, which requires a dual-threat QB. Allen signed with Florida in 2017, when Jim McElwain was the program’s head coach.

Sophomores Jared Gerbino and Jake Pallotta, and freshman Derek Kyler are among those who will compete with Allen for the starting QB job at Dartmouth.

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Following up with an item related to last week’s State of Sports column, which pointed out the many flaws in the current NHIAA baseball tournament format: Because teams in the lower three divisions don’t all play one another during the regular season, it’s possible for a team (or teams) to finish the regular season undefeated and not receive a bye for the tournament. This is especially true in Division II and Division III, where only one bye is awarded.

Let’s hope some changes are put in place during the offseason …

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