When Bryant University’s baseball season ends, Bedford’s Nick Angelini will have shattered the record book.
Angelini, a senior center fielder, will graduate as the only player in program history with 200-plus hits (he has 217), 150-plus runs scored (172), 20-plus home runs (21), 120-plus RBI (129), 50-plus stolen bases (52) and 100-plus walks (100).
Prior to this season, D1Baseball.com ranked Angelini among its top 10 New England prospects for the 2019 draft.
“I think if he continues to play at the level that he’s playing at right now, the opportunity exists for him to play after school,” said coach Steve Owens, who’s built Bryant into one of the top mid-major programs in the country replete with three NCAA Division I Tournament bids. “Last year was a subpar year for him because he had an injury to overcome (hip and groin injuries factored into a .247 average). He came into this year healthy and has been very consistent. He understands his swing very well and he’s had a very good number of at-bats in a row.
“We have a lot of pro prospects on the team so the exposure kids get every day, if they’re watching a pitcher and you’re playing great it’s a good opportunity. But Nick’s playing a good center field (his career fielding percentage is .977 based on nine errors on 392 total chances). He’s running the bases well. He’s hitting for power and average.”
Through games of April 17, Angelini was hitting .309 with seven homers, 35 RBIs and a .919 OPS. And during one 18-game stretch, he scorched pitching for a .405 average with four doubles, six homers and 22 RBIs.
Angelini prefers to focus on team-oriented goals.
“My mindset is the same as every other person on the team,” he said. “We’re trying to win a regular-season championship, the NEC Tournament, trying to make it to a (NCAA) regional and hopefully win the regional. Honestly, right now the draft is an afterthought because that’s a bit uncontrollable.
“We’re trying to make our wishes a reality. I’m focused on putting a good product on the field and whatever happens in June happens.”
Angelini was a bit subjective when discussing why he’s rebounded from a disappointing junior season to a senior season that’s been solid.
“I think a lot of it can be attributed to having fun,” he said. “There’s a Ken Griffey Jr. quote which I stumbled upon: ‘When you have fun the pressure turns into pleasure’. That resonates with me. I feel this year I’ve made it a priority to have fun with my teammates and make memories this year.”
Owens was more analytic when assessing why Angelini’s overcome an injury-plagued junior season.
“I think he’s made some changes to his swing,” Owens said. “He’s doing a great job of attacking the correct pitches and not swinging at pitches outside of the zone.
“I feel we’ve been able to move him around at different spots in the lineup and he’s settled in the middle because he’s had a lot of extra-base hits and he’s done a good job of hitting with runners on base.”
Angelini gave a hint of things to come in 2016 when he finished with a .353 average and was voted a Louisville Slugger First Team All-American plus the NEC Rookie of the Year award. He’s a two-time All-NEC First Team selection.
“Coming into Bryant there was a big transition from high school to Division I baseball,” he said. “To be frank, during my fall season I performed poorly. It was frustrating because I had worked hard and had been accustomed to playing well.
“To go through that much failure stung a little bit. When I got back from the fall break I worked as hard as I could with my dad (Robert). I tried to diagnose what was broken in my swing. When I got my opportunity I did my job. I can attribute that to all the coaching I’ve had. I’m 100 percent certain that it’s their efforts with me that helped me succeed my freshman year.”
That fall season notwithstanding, the fact Angelini even was considered a Division I caliber player is due in part to Bedford High coach Billy Chapman.
“I’ve played for a lot of coaches and I’m proud to say he’s one of the top coaches in terms of committing to his athletes,” Angelini said. “From freshman to senior year in high school that’s a big time for development in terms of learning the game, maturing and learning to play the game the right way.
“He does a good job teaching kids to do that.”
But all the instruction in the baseball world might not produce a finished product if a player lacks talent.
“I think to put up the type of numbers he’s been able to put up, you have to be talented enough to get on the field as a freshman which he was,” Owens said. “Teams weren’t trying to get out Nick Angelini and he threw 59 hits on them over the course of the year. His sophomore year his power numbers went up (i.e. 15 doubles, four triples and six homers). He got stronger.
“Nick is really well-conditioned. He’s fit and has been a staple on offense and defense. He’s dynamic and is a great run scorer. There’s a lot of trust in him having quality at-bats and being a good leader for us. He put pressure on himself last year and it snowballed. Now he’s enjoying this team. We hope he can finish his career in super fashion and have an opportunity to play after school.”