Deciding on a player of the year is never easy, but when there are two local teams that win state titles, the decision can be even more difficult than usual. That was the position that I was in this year, with two very, very strong candidates in Byram Hills’ Frankie Vesuvio and Mamaroneck’s Kumar Nambiar. Both were big-game aces for their teams in the most important games of the season, and both had their moments at the plate, so how could one choose?
It took a lot of thought, and I did my best to seek input from coaches and scouts who had seen both play. Ultimately, it came down to a question that one of my editors likes to ask whenever we have debates over these awards: If you were starting team, which guy would you pick first? The answer is rather complicated, but the simple truth is that it would be Vesuvio by a hair. Allow me to explain…
If I had to have one guy start a game on the mound, I would give Nambiar a narrow edge. His pitching numbers were slightly better (although they were probably equally dominant in the playoffs) and he has a bit more polish to his arsenal with his ability to mix pitches and locate. But when it comes to every other facet of the game, it would be difficult not to take Vesuvio. I don’t know if there is a player who runs the bases as fast or covers as much ground in the outfield. And he’s on pace to be the most prolific home run hitter in Byram Hills’ history, having broke the single-season home run record this year. He led the Bobcats in most offensive categories and has developed into Section 1’s truest five-tool player. When you add that all up with a brilliant season on the mound, it would have been hard not to give Vesuvio the nod.
I wanted to give you a glimpse into my thought process because this really was one of the tougher calls that I’ve had to make as baseball writer. Both guys were deserving — probably the two most deserving players that I’ve covered in the past five years — and I’m sure that both will be at the top of the All-State lists that are coming out this week.
Other members of The Journal News Westchester/Putnam all-star first team:
C — Andy Karlan, Sr., Mamaroneck: Moving the LIU-Brooklyn-bound senior into the leadoff spot coincided with the Tigers’ run to a state championship. He produced 50 total runs with 27 scored and 23 driven in, hitting .392 with 14 extra-base hits. Karlan also may have been the best defensive catcher in Section 1, throwing out 13 of 21 base-stealers while adding eight pick-offs.
INF — JoJo Gray, Sr., New Rochelle: One of the top dual threats in the area, the Le Moyne-bound senior posted a 0.84 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP while striking out 67 in 58.1 innings. Gray also led the Huguenots with a .371 average and .459 on-base percentage.
INF — Kellen Hatheway, Sr., Byram Hills: The Williams College-bound senior led the state champion Bobcats with a .413 average, .553 on-base percentage and 34 runs scored. He was also responsible for 16 extra-base hits, including five homers.
INF — Greg Satriale, Jr., Eastchester: Another multi-talented threat, the junior right-hander struck out 86 in 51 innings with a 1.77 ERA. Offensively, Satriale mashed, hitting .544 with a .982 slugging percentage, 14 stolen bases, 23 RBI and six homers.
INF — Jack Weiller, Sr., John Jay: Considered by many to be the best shortstop in the area, the Virginia-bound senior ended his brilliant career by hitting .403 with a .484 on-base percentage, 10 doubles, 11 stolen bases and 20 RBI.
OF — Tim DeGraw, Sr., Rye: A feared leadoff hitter and excellent centerfielder, the Yale-bound senior hit .417 and led the Garnets with 38 runs scored and 32 steals. He also stepped in as a starting pitcher and posted a 1.27 ERA with 48 strikeouts and only four walks in 38.2 innings.
OF — Dylan Resk, Sr., Ardsley: The versatile Stony Brook-bound senior moved into centerfield this season and hit .422 with a .844 slugging percentage. He scored 28 runs and drove in 23, picking up 18 extra-base hits. He also served as the Panthers’ closer, finishing with a 0.68 ERA.
OF — Vesuvio
UTI — Enzo Stefanoni, So., Rye Country Day: The do-it-all sophomore was the undisputed MVP for the NYSAIS champs. He was the Wildcats’ ace, going 11-4 with a 1.42 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP, including six shutout innings in relief in the NYSAIS championship game. He also hit .354 and .600 with runners in scoring position.
UTI — Andrew Workman, Sr., Fox Lane: The Quinnipiac-bound senior was named the Section 1 player of the year after serving as both the ace and cleanup hitter for the Foxes. Workman led the team in average (.380), slugging (.690), doubles (10), RBI (21) and homers (4). On the mound, he had a 1.37 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 80 strikeouts in 56.1 innings.
P — Brad Case, Sr., Iona Prep: The winner of the inaugural Ron Patnosh Award, given to the CHSAA player of the year, the Rollins-bound senior went 8-1 with a 1.06 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 68 innings. At 6-6 with a live fastball, he’s got the tools to excel at the next level.
P — Nicky Gennarelli, Sr., Salesian: The Dominican-bound senior led the Eagles to their first ever CHSAA ‘AA’ Division Championship Series, going 8-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. The crafty lefty will be remembered for having one of the nastiest curveballs in the area.
P —George Kirby, Jr., Rye: It’s been two full seasons without a loss for the hard-throwing junior, who went 7-0 with a 1.33 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 52.2 innings. He’s already orally committed to Elon with a fastball that has been clocked at 90 mph.
P — Kumar Nambiar, Sr., Mamaroneck: A strong candidate for player of the year in his own right, the Tigers would not have won a state title without the Yale-bound senior. The best left-hander in Section 1 went 10-0 with two saves, striking out 97 in 80 innings with a 0.98 ERA. For good measure, he led the team with nine playoff RBI.
P — Kenta Nishiyama, Sr., Keio: The senior left-hander helped the Unicorns get to the Class B section final, establishing himself as one of the most dominant lefties in the area. Nishiyama had a 0.84 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 62 strikeouts in 66.1 innings. He also hit .333 with 18 RBI.
Coach of the year
Mamaroneck’s Mike Chiapparelli and Byram Hills’ Scott Saunders: Both coaches won state titles — Chiapparelli in Class AA and Saunders in Class A — but took very different paths to the top. For Chiapparelli, the championship represented his third in eight years, putting him into rarified air with the best coaches in state history. Saunders had to develop a program that went from 1970 to 2011 without winning a playoff game.
C — Chris Dutra, Jr., Iona Prep
INF — Luis Arias, Sr., Salesian
INF — Tyler Mandel, So., Scarsdale
INF — Nanno Santorelli, Sr., Tuckahoe
INF — Andrew Sommer, Sr., Mamaroneck
OF — Quinn Carter, Jr., Horace Greeley
OF — Tyler Gambardella, Sr., Stepinac
OF — Anthony Murphy, Sr., Peekskill
UTI — Kevin Haag, Sr., Ossining
UTI — Yuya Morita, Sr., Keio
P — Steven Franzese, Jr., Valhalla
P — Cal Lawrence, Sr., Mahopac
P — Daniel Lotito, Jr., White Plains
P — Brendan McNerney, Sr., Ardsley
P — Austin Pope, Jr., Tuckahoe
Honorable mention: Bryan Acala, Sr., Lincoln; Jared Almonte, Sr., New Rochelle; Mat Bruno, So., Rye; Andy Camilo, Sr., Salesian; Danny Capra, Sr., North Salem; Phil Capra, Sr., North Salem; Rich Capria, Sr., Lakeland; Dan Carollo, Sr., Iona Prep; Luis Angel Castillo, Jr., Lincoln; Izaak Cohen, Sr., Croton-Harmon; Rigoberto Cruz, Sr., Yonkers; Liam Dalton, Sr., Rye Country Day; Justin Drpich, Jr., John Jay; Sammy Ferranto, Jr., Carmel; Bill Flatow, Jr., Mamaroneck; Mike Fortugno, Sr., Sleepy Hollow; Gavin Garay, Sr., Kennedy; Matt Gertz, Sr., Byram Hills; Carmine Giordano, Sr., New Rochelle; Noah Goldberg, Sr., Solomon Schechter; Andy Gross, Sr., Mamaroneck; Carter Henry, Sr., John Jay; Chris Henry, Sr., Yorktown; Cameron Johnson, Jr., Briarcliff; Kevin Krippel, Sr., Eastchester; Mack Lauder, Jr., Horace Greeley; Eddie Lent, Sr., Putnam Valley; Carlos Lima, Sr., Riverside; Matt Linder, Sr., Hastings; Anthony Maestri, Sr., Somers; Matt Mancino, Jr., Iona Prep; Nick Marro, Sr., Putnam Valley; Peter Matt, Jr., Mamaroneck; Dean McCarthy, Jr., Harrison; Anthony Pecora, Sr., Mamaroneck; Chase Pratt, Jr., Rye; George Santangelo, Sr., Hackley; Tyler Schultz, Sr., Bronxville; John Spadafino, So., Byram Hills; Lucas Stalman, Fr., Hackley; Jacob Stuckelman, Sr., Byram Hills; Randy Tavares, Sr., Salesian; Sean Trenholm, Sr., Ossining; John Tucci, Sr., Pleasantville; Krishan Weber, So., Edgemont; Matt Webster, Sr., Rye Country Day; Aaron Winkler, Jr., Fox Lane; Jason Wolfthal, Jr., Valhalla
Fan-selected all-star team
C — Rich Capria, Sr., Lakeland (7,612 votes)
INF — Chris Dutra, Jr., Iona Prep (1,049)
INF — Krishan Weber, So., Edgemont (863)
INF — Anthony Pecora, Sr., Mamaroneck (808)
INF — Harrison Wirth, Sr., Scarsdale (525)
OF — Mat Bruno, So., Rye (2,118)
OF — Rigoberto Cruz, Sr., Yonkers (1,022)
OF — Andy Gross, Sr., Mamaroneck (387)
UTI — P.J. Cambriello, Sr., Blind Brook (7,239)
UTI — Kevin Krippel, Sr., Eastchester (1,781)
P — Matt Mancino, Jr., Iona Prep (1,416)
P — Brad Case, Sr., Iona Prep (1,203)
P — Matt Gertz, Sr., Byram Hills (405)
P — Kumar Nambiar, Sr., Mamaroneck (329)
P — Greg Satriale, Jr., Eastchester (281)
Photo by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News