In his third start of the season last week against Norwalk, Ben Casparius could relate to how Chris Sale has felt this season with the Red Sox.
Casparius, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-hander from Staples, allowed a little flare to right in the first inning. The runner took second on an error and eventually scored the game’s first run.
It would also be the game’s last run, as Norwalk held on for a 1-0 victory. Casparius struck out 10, walked just one and allowed four hits in the hard-luck loss.
“It was a tough one,” he said afterwards, “but it was really fun.”
Casparius seems to have the right attitude as he navigates his senior season. Dozens of major league scouts attend all his starts, even his batting cage sessions, videotaping his swing. But he’s unfazed.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “You’ve got to pretend like you’ve done it before.”
In fact, he has. Casparius got a good feel for being under the watchful eye of pro scouts while playing in the Area Code Games in California, then the East Coast Pro showcase at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida in consecutive weeks this past summer.
“There were over 500 scouts throughout the whole ballpark,” Casparius recalled. “When I was on the mound, probably 100, 200 radar guns fly out on the first pitch. I’m used to it. It’s cool. It’s kind of nerve-wracking, but fun at the same time.”
Casparius is certainly the most highly-touted high school senior in Connecticut this season. He is likely to hear his name called during the MLB First-Year Player Draft next month, though it’s impossible to say how early or late.
Although he has committed to play at the University of North Carolina, Casparius could opt to turn pro, depending on what happens at the draft.
Whatever he does, the next question will be: What position will he play? Casparius’s fastball sits between 89 and 92 MPH and has touched 94 MPH this season. He has struck out 24 batters in 14 1/3 innings.
But he’s also a hard-hitting third baseman (.308, 1 homer, 7 RBI) who could man a corner outfield spot in college or the pros.
Casparius committed to UNC as a two-way player (a rarity these days), and he could continue to be one in college.
“Honestly, I want to hit for as long as I can,” he said. “Having a good arm, you can always go back to pitching. I think I’ll get a better sense when I actually get to college and they place me somewhere. As of now, I don’t know, which is kind of a good thing.”
Eight of UNC’s nine starting players are draft-eligible this year, including a good chunk of its infield. So, playing time could be available immediately for Casparius at third or even second.
That is, of course, assuming Casparius, a Red Sox fan, doesn’t elect to go pro after next month’s draft.
So many questions for the young man, who just turned 18 a few months ago. For now, all Ben Casparius is worried about is helping to get Staples (7-5) going for a run in the playoffs.
“With our pitching staff, we’ve got four or five guys over 85 (MPH), so we can probably hold teams to under three runs per game,” he said. “We’ve just got to start swinging the bats.”