I recently posted a few stories on my RIBBE Facebook page about RI baseball players who are playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League. The Cape Cod Baseball League is widely regarded as the most prestigious summer baseball league in the country, attracting top collegiate talent from all over the USA. Players who are considered top prospects for professional baseball line each and every one of the ten Cape Cod League teams. And you can look to Major League baseball for hundreds of former Cape Cod League players every single time you go to Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Los Angeles, Texas, and every park in between. So, to play on a team in the Cape Cod League, you have to be really, really good at baseball. I found such a player from Coventry, RI who fits that description.

Matt Hopkins from Hops Athletic Performance is a great baseball and sports conditioning resource and works with youth athletes, collegiate players, and the professionals. Matt messaged me back about a player I posted about and why he thought this player would be an outstanding article and role model for any youth athlete – baseball, football, softball, whatever. Hopkins remarked about his journey, his work ethic, and that his draft stock is going up, up, and up. The player I posted about, the player Matt Hopkins has worked with and helped to train, the player from Coventry, RI playing in the Cape Cod League is Caleb Wurster.

Photo snapshot courtesy of University of Connecticut website

I texted Caleb to gauge his interest in answering a few questions about his RI baseball experiences, his college journey, and his time now on Cape Cod. His responses, his answers spoke volumes about what kind of an awesome person Caleb is. I hope to someday shake his hand and watch him pitch. Based on his prep baseball scouting report, which was in his words, Caleb is a fantastic human being who has a grounded sense of self and an appreciative sense of who got him to where he is today. Youth athletes should take notice and see how a (soon to be) professional handles himself. I was really impressed with his answers and would like to share them you here:

RIBBE – Caleb, good afternoon.  Thanks again for agreeing to do this and continued success not only this summer but at UCONN.  Tell me a little bit about your Rhode Island baseball roots – Little League? AAU? What was that experience like? How did you settle on being a pitcher?  Was that your position throughout youth baseball or something you worked towards later on?  You played at Bishop Hendricken (Matt Hopkins filled me in).  Were there any state championships in your HS career? 

Caleb – I grew up in Coventry RI since I was 3. Started playing little league for central Coventry (now just Coventry) at 6 years old. I was blessed with amazing coaches that taught me love and respect for the game as well as friends that I hangout with even today. One teammate and his father particularly had a large impact on me: Mason Feole and his father Anthony Feole. That name may be familiar as for the past two years Mason was a teammate of mine again at UCONN, which was an absolute blessing. Mason’s father was our coach in little league for quite a while as well as the 1 year I played AAU for the Blackstone Valley River Dogs. We parted ways in high school where I attended BHHS(Bishop Hendricken High School). There I was a pitcher and an outfielder for my freshman year and part of my sophomore year until my coach thought it’d be best that I focus on pitching. I made Varsity my junior and senior year and had good years but never blew anyone away with my ability. I always loved competing though, whether it was a bad day for me or not I never wanted to come out of the game. We won 3 state championships for baseball over my tenure at BHHS.

By my senior year, I was dead set on playing football in college. However, I broke my right collarbone my senior year in preseason and so I sat out for 90% of the season so instead of looking at colleges I began to look at prep schools for a 5th year. I was beyond blessed to receive a full scholarship to Suffield Academy in Suffield, CT. There I played football and had a great season and a handful of options for football in college. However, after a couple minor injuries along the season I knew I needed to decide which sport I would give up. After a lot of thought and prayer I knew I couldn’t give up baseball. My head coach, Bryan Brissette, for baseball (who was also an assistant coach for the football team) began to help me try and get recruited for baseball. I emailed multiple schools, all of which showed minor interest. My head coach suggested I look at UConn as he was old friends with Coach James Penders. I went to a camp over the winter for UConn and did very poorly but they liked my mechanics so they said they’d follow me along the baseball season. At Suffield something clicked, as I went undefeated on the season with a couple of shutouts, one of which was against one of the top baseball schools Cheshire academy, a game at which coach Penders had shown up to watch me pitch. Giving up just 1 hit in 6 innings, he called me the next day saying that he wanted me to come visit the campus. When I did he was straightforward with me the whole way, telling me that he had no money for me and not even a guaranteed spot on the spring roster but he believed that I had the competitive spirit to win a spot. I had an OK fall with them but was working as hard as I could and he could see that so I was on the spring roster. After a few weeks into the season of not playing he asked if I wanted to redshirt and since there were minimal innings on the table I agreed. Continued working and played for the Brockton Rox in the FCBL for the summer where again I had a decent amount of success but nothing outstanding. After a mediocre fall back at UConn in 2018, I had a meeting with the coaching staff where they told me I was basically the 36th man on the roster, and they were right. They asked if they wanted to help me transfer so I went home that weekend to talk to my father about it. He said that I had come so far and surpassed so many obstacles that it would be foolish to lay down and not fight like I had thus far. I agreed to stay and that winter I worked harder than I ever have for anything. My pitching coach Joshua MacDonald has worked with a freshman that fall on lowering his arm slot and although it didn’t workout for him I thought I’d try it out. Over the winter I basically threw twice as much as I normally would, working on both over the top and side arm. When I got back to school in January in my first live appearance, I threw from both arm slots: 81-84 over the top and 84-86 from the side. From then on my coaches told me to stick to side arm. In about a month and a half of throwing live from the side I got my velocity up to 87-90. After two pretty rough appearances to begin the year I buckled down and began to fill up the zone and became successful. 

Photo snapshot courtesy of University of Connecticut website

RIBBE – Do players register for The Cape League or are they recruited?  Can you tell me a little bit about the process on how you were selected?  Do you get to then select a team if multiple squads are interested in you?

Caleb – Most Cape Cod contracts are initiated at the beginning of the collegiate season but I wasn’t terribly good then so wasn’t offered a contract till about a third into our season. Basically coaches from the cape watch college players as they go along and inform their college coaches that they have interest and then a player signs with them. I was a temporary contract at Wareham to start. As guys came in and spots decreased my pitching coaches fought for a spot for me on Falmouth where I am now.

RIBBE – Would you say this is the best competition you have ever played against?  Playing in the American Athletic Conference at UCONN, I’m sure you see a ton of collegiate talent every game.  But is the Cape Cod League truly the best competition you have faced?

Caleb – The cape is absolutely the best competition I’ve ever faced. Aside from team USA, these players are the all stars so to speak of returning college players. In an AAC game you might have 2-4 cape level competitors, but here you face them everyday (obviously).

RIBBE – How are the games attended in terms of fans?  And I’m sure there are MLB scouts floating around.

Caleb – We get about 600-1300 fans a game id say. Yeah, at least 6 scouts a game, from what I can see.

RIBBE – Overall, how would you define the experience in playing in one, if not the, elite baseball summer league in all of the US?  Given the history of players who have played in the Cape Cod League who went onto play professional baseball, it must be very satisfying for you and your family to have played in this league.

Caleb – I’ve had the time of my life here and have been blessed with an amazing host family for the summer with two sons who love baseball. The guys here are amazing and I’ve made life long friendships with many of them.

The Falmouth Commodores are at Bourne tonight, then at Hyannis, at Cotuit, and at Chatham before heading home to play two games at home vs Bourne and Brewster. The Commodores play their home games at Guv Field, Falmouth. In fact, the Falmouth Commodores are scheduled to play 14 games (one doubleheader) in the next 13 days. A taste of the professional baseball schedule, I would say. For more information on the Falmouth Commodores, go to www.falmouthcommodores.com.

And special thanks to Coventry, RI’s Caleb Wurster. A great story of perseverance, hard work, and truly listening to the baseball coaches and mentors in your life that are smarter than you, even the ones right in your very own home. Congrats Caleb on all your success and good luck this summer and next year at the University of Connecticut.