We pay a lot of attention to baseball at the major league level. To a lesser extent minor leaguers get coverage, however, what about before ballplayers become professionals? Rhode Island’s URI Rams are only a year removed from reaching the NCAA tournament, and just concluded another strong season. I sat down with URI pitcher Dominic Grillo to recap their year.
Tyler Salk: Unfortunately URI was unable to return to the national tournament. What was different this year compared to last year?
Dom Grillo: We ran into injuries, we lost two of our weekend starters from last year due to injury this year. Overall we had a really good year, a lot of guys stepped up when they were asked to. It is a bummer we were not able to repeat as champions. But over the past three years we have had really good years, and hope next year we will end up on top again.
TS: Finishing second in the Atlantic-10 is obviously no easy feat. This season was still a success. How far do you believe you could have gotten with those two pitchers?
DG: To be honest I have no idea, it was a very unfortunate situation, but that is what happens in sports, and I believe that we did a really good job of not letting those injuries affect our year.
TS: The offense still seemed to be strong. Players like Hess and Powell performed well. Do you see anybody on this team being selected in the upcoming MLB draft?
DG: Absolutely. We had a lot of guys this past year, and future years that have a future in Professional baseball. From this past year guys like Hess, Powell, Corin, O'neil, Whiteman, Wessel, Johnson, and Murphy, without a doubt have a chance to play professional baseball next year. A lot of the guys stepped up this year and had fantastic years.
TS: Who would you say has the best chance of hearing their name called?
DG: I believe all of them have a very good chance, we will see the seniors either get drafted, or free agencies, and even independent baseball. It is going to be very cool to watch, and I am hoping the best for all of them.
TS: 990 has a friend of the station and of URI who has been drafted and played professionally in Jeff Roy, and are certainly wishing this year’s class the best. Looking towards next season, how does the recruiting class look? Will the new guys be able to replace so many potential professionals?
DG: To be honest I have no idea what the recruits play like this coming year. But saying that our coaches do a phenomenal job in recruiting, it may seem that we have had an older team this past year, but we have a lot of guys that are younger who are going to step up and fill the roles for this upcoming season.
TS: Looking at the offseason where there will be some change, what are team veterans such as yourself doing to prepare for next year?
DG: What is cool about college baseball, is the fact that once the school year is done, and the school season is done, players are placed all around the country to play summer ball. We have players in the Cape Cod League, the NECBL, some in Missouri, and New Jersey. This is where you will find all of us.
TS: Do players apply, or are they recruited to these leagues?
DG: To be honest, I have no idea how it works, usually the coaches place you somewhere in the country, depending on the League is where you will be placed. The past two summers I have been here in Rhode Island, playing for the Ocean State Waves in the NECBL, usually you will find 3 to 4 guys from URI playing for the Waves, and many more playing in the NECBL.
TS: How does NECBL competition stack up against A-10 play?
DG: Pretty much the same, Kids are from all over, half of the Wave players are from schools like Alabama, University of Southern Mississippi. Then you will see teams like the Newport Gulls, who tend to have guys from SEC schools and ACC schools, but the competition tends to be the same which is awesome, the only difference is that all summer leagues are wood bat leagues.
TS: Where/when can people see the Waves play? What is in store for you during Summer play?
DG: We play at Old Mountain Field in Wakefield Rhode Island, games tend to be almost every day, The Newport Gulls who is in our league play at the famous Cardines Field in downtown Newport, other teams in the league are all over New England. But I have no idea what my role is yet for summer ball I will find out Tuesday which is our first game of the season. My goal is to be a starter. I have been coming out of the bullpen for URI for the past 3 years, played every role possibly for URI pitching wise.
TS: Well Dom, I’d like to wish you the very best this summer down in Wakefield, and I am sure you will do great. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today
DG: Thank you for having me.
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