Jim Penders has done his very best in recruiting the best the state has to offer to come play baseball at UConn. Just look at each of the last two World Series champions with George Springer (Houston Astros) and Matt Barnes (Boston Red Sox) having both played for Penders.
Andrew Marrero has been on UConn’s radar for some time. He verbally committed two years ago, months before he was to being his sophomore season at Wilbur Cross. He never wavered in his commitment since and signed a national letter of intent at the high school Thursday to make it official: Marrero will play baseball for the Huskies.
“This feels really great, it feels super special. I wouldn’t have thought about getting a scholarship to play baseball from them because UConn is such a great program. It is a blessing,” said Marrero, now 18.
Marrero is the first recruit for Penders to play for one of the city schools in New Haven. He will be going there as a pitcher.
“He got our attention at a workout before he even pitched in high school,” said Penders, who will be entering season No. 16 at the helm for the Huskies. “He’s got a very good fastball and an explosive slider. Look at his strikeouts last year, 94 in 52 innings, and only 18 walks. He’s a workhorse, he has a rubber arm. He’s an athletic kid and he loves to compete. He’s been a leader and an ace on his team for a long time.”
Said Marrero: “It’s a big accomplishment. It doesn’t happen very often, especially in New Haven.”
Marrero remembers how much he enjoyed his visit to the Storrs campus. “I liked the coaching staff, all the players and the facilities. I had a great visit.”
Marrero was also receiving interest from Rhode Island, Northeastern and Boston College. Jeff Farrell coached Marrero his first three seasons at Cross.
“I knew his freshman year when I first saw him during pitchers and catchers week that he was going to be special,” said Farrell, now the athletic director at Rockville High School. “Since that time, he steadily improved each year I coached him, not because of my coaching but because of the work ethic and motivation he has for baseball.”
Marrero has a 3.92 career ERA with 154 strikeouts in 114.1 innings pitched. He was an All-SCC Oronoque Division selection as a junior. He will be a team captain for the second straight season next spring.
Marrero also has a 3.8 GPA and is considering pursuing a major in either sports medicine or business management.
“I want guys excited about UConn and he was one of those guys,” Penders said. “There are a lot of blue-collar kids in our program who seem to flourish when they get here because they have that type of work ethic. … We all spend a lot of time together during the season. I don’t want to spend it with people I don’t enjoy being around. I love being around kids who value their families. Andrew obviously has great respect for his mom and dad. He’s a goal-oriented person who cares about his grades. Those are the type of people I want to be around.”
Said Farrell: “As good as he has been in high school, I know that his best is still in front of him.”