By Derek Turner
HIGGANUM >> In the dead of another New England winter, a couple of local baseball players lived out a childhood dream in sunny Miami.
Higganum’s Brian Moskey and Killingworth’s Derek Kasperzyk spent the first weekend of 2014 in Marlins Stadium with more than 120 of the best high school players from around the world at the Power Showcase.
“It was unbelievable, it was an experience I’ll never forget,” said Kasperzyk, a junior at Avon-Old Farms. “[We] got to play with some of the nation’s best talent, got to play in a big league park and it just felt like I was living out my childhood dream of playing in the major leagues. It was awesome.”
The eighth annual Power Showcase in southern Florida is similar to most amateur showcases around the country where players show off their skills and play competitive games in front of college and pro scouts, Miami’s showcase, however, has one big difference — a home run derby.
Each hitter received 20 outs during the home run derby: five with a wood bat and then 15 with metal.
“It was different from regular batting practice,” said Moskey. “Obviously, you’re trying to hit home runs, so I adjusted my swing a little bit this fall to prepare for it.”
Moskey, a junior at Haddam-Killingworth, hit a 399-foot home run to left field during his metal bat round.
“Hitting a home run felt amazing; I got extended all the way through that ball,” said Moskey.
The home run ball was then collected and given as a gift to his dad as a part of the “Home Runs That Help” campaign put on by the Power Showcase. One of the requirements to attend is to raise money for an organization that has personally affected the player. Moskey chose “Stand Up to Cancer” because of the partnership they have with Major League Baseball. And also for his dad.
“My sponsor was my father,” Moskey explained. “Back in 2000 he had Hodgkin’s disease and obviously he was a big part in my baseball development.”
Kasperzyk’s uncle, Joe Salatto, is affected by Parkinson’s disease. When Kasperzyk came home for winter break he spent time knocking doors of local businesses.
“It was just amazing to me how many businesses actually opened up their money that they earned and gave to my foundation, it was pretty unbelievable,” said Kasperzyk, who raised about $1,000 for Parkinson’s.
During the skills portion of the showcase, Kasperzyk ran the fastest 60 yard sprint – the distance from home plate to second base – in 6.71 seconds.
“After I ran my time, these scouts came up to me,” Kasperzyk said. “They found my last name, they found where I was from and took some time to talk to me; the Red Sox guy, the Reds guy…that was awesome for me.”
Kasperzyk, an outfielder and middle infielder, showed off his speed again during the games where he beat out an infield single and stole a base.
Moskey and Kasperzyk may have gone their separate ways for high school, but it doesn’t discount their friendship and love for the game of baseball. They met while playing against each other in a Little League all-star game and their bond has grown since then. They played together in middle school before Derek was granted the opportunity to play baseball at Avon Old Farms and Moskey stayed local, playing for Mark Brookes at H-K.
They have played AAU baseball for the last three summers with Team Connecticut Baseball and dream of playing at a higher level together.
“We’ve always thought it would be so cool to go to the same college together, so cool to play on the same team professionally and hopefully someday that will happen,” said Moskey, who is a top pitching prospect. “But it wouldn’t be a bad thing to play against each other in college or professionally either.”
“He’s my best friend and it was unbelievable,” said Kasperzyk. “It really brought back the childhood dream. And walking into a major league ballpark everyday was something awesome.”