RECRUITED as a starting pitcher out of Bedford High School, Patrick Harrington spent his freshman season at Assumption College last year working exclusively out of the bullpen.
It’s a typical move for a lot of first-year pitchers, as upperclassmen have already secured spots in the rotation, and, to his credit, Harrington took it in stride. In 15 appearances, he pitched 37⅓ innings and struck out 33 batters while showing impressive control (3.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio).
Harrington hopes to return to a starting role next spring, though, and his work this summer with the Nashua Silver Knights of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England has resulted in him making some strong strides toward that.
“It’s definitely my goal going into next year,” he said. “I think it’s definitely helped me starting here (in Nashua). It gives me a lot more confidence to be a starter at the collegiate level.”
Harrington has started in all six of his appearances with the Silver Knights and over 29 innings has registered a 2.48 ERA to go along with 29 strikeouts. The command hasn’t wavered much in extended work, either, as Harrington’s walked eight batters.
Figuring out how to better play his pitches off one another has been key to his development. Harrington has a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup in his arsenal, though, like most young pitchers, admits the changeup is still very much a work in progress.
“Being able to get my fastball inside helps open up the other half of the plate for my slider to maybe go out of the zone (to induce chase swings),” he said. “My curveball is more of a 12 to 6 curveball, and my slider helps that because they’re on different planes. My changeup is my weakest pitch so far. It’s just a different speed and moves in a different direction that makes it tougher for hitters to hit but also harder to control. I’m working on it.”
The fact that Harrington has been able to stay local has been a big help, too. He doesn’t have to learn about new surroundings or become comfortable living with a host family, allowing him to focus all of his attention on becoming a better baseball player.
He was pleasantly surprised when Assumption coach Mike Rocco informed him the Silver Knights wanted to offer him a contract and the decision to commit for the summer was easy.
“Playing for the hometown team is a lot of fun and it’s nice to be at home with the team like right there,” he said. “I’m definitely more comfortable than just picking up and going elsewhere.”
The whole situation is ideal for Harrington and he’s taking full advantage with his eyes set on contributing to the Assumption rotation as a sophomore next year.
“It’s not definitive right now,” he said. “But I think (a starting) spot is something I could get. I just have to earn it when I get to school again. I hope I can become a starter for next year for sure.”
When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. received the invitation from Major League Baseball to compete in the home run derby this past Monday, there was never any doubt about who would pitch to him.
The easy answer was John Schneider, the coach who has been with the young slugger almost every step of the way since 2017. Starting with Advanced-A Dunedin where Schneider served as manager, the two made the move to Double-A New Hampshire together in 2018 and, finally, reached the big leagues this year when Guerrero was promoted to the majors and Schneider was hired as a coach in Toronto. Guerrero’s stint with Triple-A Buffalo serves as the lone outlier.
With a strong bond between player and coach, and Schneider’s history of throwing Guerrero batting practice in Dunedin, New Hampshire and, briefly, Toronto, it was a perfect match.
“We’ve joked about this in the minor leagues: If he ever did this I would throw to him,” Schneider told The Toronto Star. “... I think with players who you have relationships with, it’s just kind of no questions asked. You adjust accordingly. It was really cool, humbling, when he asked.”
Though Guerrero ended up placing second after the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso (23) bested his 22 home runs in the final round, the tandem still proved potent. Guerrero set a number of contest records including most home runs hit in a single derby (91) and most home runs hit in a single round (29). He ended up hitting 40 home runs in the second round, but that was with the help of a couple of tie breaker rounds against the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joc Pederson.
“I gave it all I had,” Guerrero said afterward. “I just feel proud hitting 91 home runs.”
Hitting that many was probably Guerrero’s most impressive feat. It broke the previous record of 61 set in 2016 by then-Miami Marlin Giancarlo Stanton by an absurd 30 homers and gives him the third most all-time derby home runs. To put that in perspective, Guerrero, in a single night, soared past David Ortiz (77) and Ken Griffey Jr. (70), who competed in five and eight derbys, respectively, over their legendary careers.
That isn’t to say Guerrero will enjoy an as-good or better career as those two, but there’s no denying the young man has prodigious power and has a long, productive career ahead of him.
Baseball fans should hope Guerrero enters the contest for years to come and, if he does, it’s probably safe to say Schneider will jump at the opportunity to do it all over again with him.
“That was the most fun I’ve ever had on a baseball field,” Schneider told Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae. “That second round against Joc was like unbelievable … That was so much fun. 91 homers, a record by 30, the kid is unbelievable. I had a blast.”
With Nate Pearson just coming off the injured list a few days before the Futures Game this past Sunday, there was some uncertainty as to whether or not the Fisher Cats would want him to actually pitch in it or just go to Cleveland to experience of it all.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect has been handled carefully this season, but with the chance to compete against the best prospects in all of baseball, Pearson got the go ahead.
He impressed in his one inning of work, striking out two without allowing a base runner and hit over 100 mph on the radar gun with four of his 12 pitches, topping out at 102.
Pearson has pitched to a 3.54 ERA over nine starts with New Hampshire this season, striking out 32 batters across 28 innings. Over his last 10 starts, which have been a bit sporadic due to injury and innings limits, he owns a 3.30 ERA and has struck out 37 in 30 innings of work.
Now that he’s healthy, the Fisher Cats are looking to stretch him back out a bit and plan to remove all restrictions for the second half of the season. While it’s not very likely he makes his major league debut this year, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins hasn’t ruled out Triple-A.
If they were looking for offense, fans left Keene’s Alumni Field more than satisfied Wednesday.
It was there that the Keene Swamp Bats and Winnipesaukee Muskrats split a doubleheader while combining to score 40 runs over 13 innings, cycling through 12 pitchers.
Winnipesaukee (8-17) took the first of the pair 15-5 and Southern New Hampshire University’s Jake Coro was one of eight Muskrats to score at least three runs.
Keene (15-11) returned the favor in the night cap with an 18-2 win, collecting 19 hits as a team. Stratham’s Kyle Ball finished 1-for-4 and, through Friday, is hitting .316 with 12 RBIs.
The Swamp Bats have won six of their last 10 games and sit in second place in the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Northern Division, 1½ games behind the North Adams SteepleCats. Winnipesaukee brings up the rear in the division but has gotten hot as of late, winning six of their last 10 games as well. The teams will meet again on Thursday, July 18.
NH Baseball appears in the New Hampshire Sunday News.