UA trio named Cape Cod All-Stars
Arizona baseball players Kevin Newman, Nathan Bannister and Bobby Dalbec were selected to represent their respective teams in the 2014 Cape Cod All-Star Game. The 52nd annual event will take place on Sunday, July 27, at Doran Park in Bourne, Mass. and first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. MST.
“It’s good to see these guys go out and perform well this summer, I’m very happy for them,” UA head coach Andy Lopez said. “It’s a great experience, is good for the program and bodes well for all three of them to come back and have productive years next season.”
Last summer, Newman made Cape Cod League history when he became the first freshman to claim the CCBL batting title after finishing with a league-leading .375 batting average.
This year, he ranks first in the league with a .393 batting average and ranks fourth overall with a .471 on base percentage. Additionally, Newman has amassed 16 RBIs and scored 14 runs over 22 games played.
Arizona infielder Kevin Newman hits a base hit during Arizona's 6-5 win against UCLA at Hi Corbett Field. Newman is one of three Arizona Wildcats to be named an all-star in the 2014 Cape Cod Baseball League.
“It’s an honor to be selected as an All-Star,” Newman said. “As for defending the CCBL batting title, I haven’t really been focused on it. I came into Cape Cod this summer not trying to defend that because I didn’t want to put that pressure on myself; but putting in quality at-bats has got me to the position where that actually is a possibility.”
Newman said this summer he’s been more selective at the plate and hasn’t been getting himself out as much as he did last season. He also said that he changed his stance a little bit, but that the major change has come from his increased discipline in the batter’s box.
“I really think he is going to take the role I hoped he had taken last year; for some reason he didn’t, but that’s life – it’s okay,” Lopez said of Newman. “Probably the biggest ingredient you need in a coach is patience. He’s a great young man with two years of success and has arguably been one of the best out there at the highest level of summer baseball. I’m hoping he’ll come back and be the leader that you need at the shortstop position.”
Bannister, who plays for the Orleans Firebirds along with UA teammates Dalbec and Cody Moffett, has shown his true potential this summer and was rewarded with a nod to the East Division All-Star roster as a reserve pitcher.
“As a coach, I’m always rooting for Nathan Bannister,” Lopez said. “He’s a good guy, works hard, never complains and takes any road you give him in a pitching situation.”
This summer, Bannister abandoned his submarine style delivery and has opted for a more traditional over-the-top motion. The change in arm slot has provided a noticeable increase in his velocity – now hovering in the low 90 mph range instead of the mid-80s.
“Throwing back over the top has allowed me to pitch more accurately down in the zone and force more ground balls,” Bannister said.
He has posted a 4-0 record (tied for the most in the league), compiled an ERA of 2.10 and racked up 21 strikeouts over 30 innings pitched.
Bannister’s summer ball coach, Kelly Nicholson, was a former assistant coach of Lopez back when he was the head coach at Cal State Dominguez Hills, and every time Bannister, Dalbec or Moffett takes the mound, Nicholson texts Lopez, giving him blow-by-blow coverage and detailed reports.
So even though Lopez didn’t spend his summer in Cape Cod, he’s up to date with his players’ progressions.
“I got a lot of good reports from [Nicholson] in regards to Nathan Bannister,” Lopez said. “We’re excited to get him back and we need him to step up this year so hopefully he’ll provide some good competition and leadership in the rotation.”
Dalbec has served as an integral two-way player this summer for the Firebirds.
While he is only hitting .191, he has smacked a team-leading four home runs to accompany 15 RBI and 10 runs scored over 21 games. He was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American last month and has also seen success on the mound.
Dalbec is in possession of a 2.57 ERA, has struck out nine, walked three and collected a save through eight appearances totaling seven innings pitched.
Earlier this month, he was the first Arizona baseball player to participate in the College Baseball Home Run Derby in Omaha, Neb. While he didn’t make it past the first round, he hit three home runs and caught the attention of many.
— Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17