High ranked players, higher expectations: Baseball returns with two top ranked draft prospects

By Samuel Brouwere

Sports Reporter

The Griffs’ baseball team will be returning to action next week when they play the Michigan Wolverines in Port St. Lucie, Florida. And if that wasn’t reason enough to be excited, the Griffs have top prospects on the roster going into the season, as seniors Anthony Massicci and Iannick Remillard were ranked in the top five on Baseball America’s list of the Top 10 prospects in the Metro Atlantic Atheltic Conference for the 2016 MLB Draft.

Massicci, a starting infielder for the Griffs, was ranked number four on the list. Massicci was a prominent player for the Griffs in the 2015 season, as he started in 59 games and appeared in 63 games. He also was consistent hitting the ball, as he batted .290 and recorded 62 hits, 11 doubles, and 28 Runs Batted In.

Massicci spoke to being on the list by saying, “It’s definitely an honor. It’s good to get recognized for the efforts over the years, but at the end of the day it is just a poll. I still got to go out there and perform this year.” Massicci has the right humble attitude heading into the season, as even though he is on such a prominent list, he still will work hard this season to perform.

There is no doubt that Massicci will be a key piece for the defending MAAC Champion Griffs this season. He spoke to his expectations for the season by saying, “I think people will be surprised even though we lost (Connor) Panas and (Brett) Siddall last year. I think that this team has a lot of hitters and guys that are going to step up this year. I think we’re in a good place, especially with our pitching staff. They’re getting ready and I think they will come out hot too.”

Iannick Remillard, the closing pitcher for the Griffs, was ranked number three on the list. Remillard was a key piece of the Griffs successful 2015 season. He appeared in 20 games, 35.0 innings total, and had 10 saves. He also struck out 41 batters on the season. He is currently second in career saves in the program’s history with 12.

Remillard spoke to being on the list by saying, “It’s a big honor. It’s one of those things where you saw guys last year like (Connor) Panas, (Brett) Siddall, and (Devon) Stewart being the top prospects. It’s nice being honored as one of the top prospects in the conference.” Remillard, like Massicci, appeared to have the right attitude about being on the list, as he is going into the season.

Remillard also went on to speak about his expectations for the season by saying, “Nothing less than winning a MAAC Championship. I’ve already won two and I’m looking for a third.” Remillard will be a key piece for the Griffs, as he has the talent and work ethic to bolster the end of the pitching rotation.

Coach Mike McRae spoke to what Massicci and Remillard mean to the team this season by saying, “They both have key roles for the team. We’re going to need them to continue to play at a pretty high level. They also bring a wealth of experience to the table. They both have been a part of championship teams and they’ve seen the highs and lows. Hopefully they can keep the ship on course, as we move through the year.” The experience of both the guys will only benefit the Griffs, as the team prepare to defend their MAAC Championship.

Next week the Griffs will be returning to action, as they will play the Wolverines in a four game series in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Wolverines will be a big test for the Griffs to open up their season. They won the Big Ten Championship last season and are returning 19 letter winners.

Coach McRae spoke to the upcoming series against Michigan by saying, “It’s going to be a battle. Erik Bakich (Wolverines head coach) has done a great job everywhere that he’s been. You know that they’re going to be ready coming out of the gate and they have some elite athletes on the team.”

It is the Griffs first series of the year, and it will allow the players to get back into a competitive setting playing against another team. Coach McRae spoke to his expectations for the series by saying, “I expect that we’re going to be excited to get on the field. I expect that our guys are going to compete. There’s hopefully going to be some growth and we’re going to continue to work the process and let things happen.” The series will allow the players to grow, as they plan to defend their 2015 MAAC Championship.

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