Firebirds Work Out At Fenway

By Greg Joyce

Thursday was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Orleans Firebirds.

Although the Orleans Firebirds officially had an off day on Thursday, most of the team was on a bus at 6:00 am. But there was good reason for their early start: The Firebirds, along with the other nine teams in the league, were a part of Scout Day at Fenway Park on Thursday.

Players got a chance to show off their swings to over 50 scouts who were sitting in the stands, while representatives from the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Rays, and Brewers (among others) were on the field assisting with the workout.

All of the position players were present for Orleans, as well as pitchers Tyler Johnson (Stony Brook), Matt Dunbar (Southern Nevada), and Kurt Heyer (Arizona), although there was no pitching done.

After the players were timed running the 60’ in the outfield, they spread out across the famed Fenway outfield to shag fly balls while the Brewster Whitecaps was taking batting practice. While they were out there, some of the players and coaches got to go inside the Green Monster and see the scene behind the wall.

Soon enough, it was time for the Firebirds to start their session of batting practice. The first group consisted of Rudy Flores (Florida International), Maxx Tissenbaum (Stony Brook), Tarran Senay (NC State), and Matt Lowenstein (Loyola Marymount). After hitting, Tissenbaum talked about what it was like to be batting at Fenway. He said after his first swing, he looked up and saw that he was actually hitting in Fenway, with the Green Monster in the background. Tissenbaum hit the Monster with two of his hits.

The second group to bat included Ronnie Shaeffer (UC Irvine), Andrew Aplin (Arizona State), Matt Duffy (Long Beach State), and Steve Selsky (Arizona). Duffy and Selsky both hit shots off the wall in left.

Finally, the last group to bat was Jake Stewart (Stanford), Jayce Boyd (Florida State), and Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State). Stewart twice hit a ball off the top of the Monster, while Waldrip pulled a few balls off the short wall in right.

Meanwhile, it was Boyd who put on the show for the Firebirds. His first home run was a rocket off the Sports Authority sign above the Green Monster. Though he later said he didn’t see it hit off the sign, everyone else in attendance sure did. The second bomb hit off the light tower above the Monster. And just for fun in his last round, Boyd hit one more home run into the first row of Monster seats.

The team after their BP at Fenway Park

After BP, the players were led upstairs into a room where they took a computerized test to measure their baseball IQ. They were asked to do things like identify pitches out of a pitcher’s hand (ex: four-seam fastball vs. two-seam fastball), and determine when a pitch was coming through the strike zone.

The final event of the day was each player getting weighed and measured for official numbers for the scouts. This marked the end of the day for the Firebirds, while other Cape Cod Baseball League teams were just starting sessions of their own.

One of the notable guests at the workout included esteemed baseball analyst and Cape Cod League fan, Peter Gammons. The baseball guru has been around the Cape League for a while, and talked about what a special opportunity it was for the players.

“I think it’s just fun to come to this park,” Gammons said. About three weeks ago, the Cubs were in town. Starlin Castro comes out of the dugout and he goes, ‘I can’t believe it, I’m playing at Fenway Park!’

“But I think college players see, ‘All right, this is what it’s about. And it’s good. It’s great they get to be seen. The Yankees and Red Sox arranged this so all the teams could come scout these kids. It’s good.”

Gammons noted one special case that he remembers well from the workouts, when Bobby Kielty was playing for Brewster. Kielty had come into the summer undrafted, but had a solid summer and an even better workout.

“He came in here [to the workout] and hit 10 bombs; right-handed and left-handed,” Gammons said. “And at the end of the summer, he got half a million dollars from the Twins as an undrafted player. This workout here was really what did it. That makes it fun.”

Gammons explained how the workout can be a good chance for players to show scouts what they have aside from their play in the Cape League.

“I think just the more they get seen by professional scouts, the better it is,” Gammons said. “Cause sometimes, you get in to the Cape League games and wooden bats, they’re playing every day, sometimes the games get pretty tough. So just to have a workout so [the scouts] can watch their tools, watch their swings, I think it’s important.

“And especially to be able to come into this ballpark and work out. It’s the Red Sox’ way of reaching out and saying, ‘Hey look it, we’re a big part of New England baseball.’”

There were no games played on Thursday night, but the baseball that took place earlier in the day at baseball’s cathedral will be remembered forever. Whether it leads to signings, more interest in a players, or just a chance to step on to the beautiful Fenway Park, the players will never forget this amazing opportunity.

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About firebirdsccbl
The official blog of the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Check here for the latest news on the Firebirds, and be sure to follow us on Facebook (Orleans Firebirds), Twitter (@FirebirdsCCBL) and YouTube (OrleansFirebirds).

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