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Serritella a calming influence in the middle of Cutters lineup

June 23, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

Chris Serritella received a little razzing from his teammates during the day Friday. It wasn’t a kangaroo court kind of punishment, it’s just what you do when one of your teammates is named a first-team All-American.

There’s been little reason to get on Serritella’s case about anything else through the first week of his professional career. The fourth-round draft pick out of Southern Illinois University was plugged right into the clean-up spot on this Crosscutters team, a run-producing spot he was more than used to.

His presence in the lineup, though, is more about just RBIs and home runs. His presence in the lineup is a delicate balance to a roster full of high school draft picks who are playing on this high of a level for the first time. Of course, the run production won’t be such a bad addition to his worth, either.

“Definitely, he’s a huge help,” said Cutters third baseman Mitch Walding, one of the Phillies 2011 high-round draft picks out of high school. “We all kind of feed of how he acts in certain situations. It’s nice to have a mature ballplayer there. We are young and we’re going to do some stupid things. We’re going to make some errors and throw the ball away. It’s nice to know you have a guy that’s going to be there for you.”

Prior to Saturday’s second game of a three-game series with Auburn, only Serritella and Brock Stassi were regulars in the lineup that had college baseball experience. Stassi was called up to Lakewood prior to Saturday’s game, but he was replaced on the roster by Cameron Perkins, a sixth-round draft pick this year out of Purdue.

Perkins was plugged into the three-hole in the lineup, helping to provide some more of that veteran player presence to help balance a young roster.

What Stassi and Serritella bring to the lineup was a professional approach to the game. Stassi was your consummate professional, playing great defense when he was in field, and providing tough at-bats out of the two-hole.

“With Stassi, we knew that if (Roman Quinn) could get on, he could steal a base to get in scoring position, or if ‘Q’ could hit a double, then Stassi could get him over,” Cutters manager Andy Tracy said. “He just battles, which you saw him do a couple days back. He’s going to be missed, but I’m glad he’s out of here.”

Serritella is a run-producer. It’s always been his role in baseball, and it doesn’t appear to be heading for a change anytime soon. He’s one of just five players on the roster age 22 or older and Tracy said he’s providing the veteran leadership to such a young team.

“The way he goes about his business is great,” Tracy said. “He talks about his hitting. He’s open about things. He works really hard defensively on his ground balls. Just to see a guy do that coming in from the draft, it doesn’t go by as a miss to people.”

Serritella was named a first-team All-American on Friday by Baseball America after hitting .389 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. Through five games, alternating as the Cutters’ first baseman and designated hitter, he was hitting .333 with a pair of RBIs.

During Friday’s 13-run outburst in a win over Auburn, Serritella went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. He showed off some of the power that made him a college All-American when he took an inside fastball and hit it off the wall in left field.

“He puts together some good at-bats for us right in the middle of the lineup,” Tracy said. “He’s just a solid guy to have in there.”

MOVING ON UP: Williamsport first baseman Brock Stassi was called up to Lakewood on Saturday. Stassi had started his second season of professional baseball repeating a level at Williamsport. In 2011, Stassi hit .200 with one home run and 14 RBIs in 50 games.

After playing three games earlier this year in Clearwater, Stassi played the first five games with Williamsport, alternating with Chris Serritella between playing first base and designated hitter. He was 5-for-23 (.217) in those five games, driving in a pair of runs. Stassi had shown stellar defense at first base over the first week and struck out just twice.

In turn, Phillies sixth-round pick Cameron Perkins was assigned to Williamsport from the Gulf Coast League Phillies. Perkins, a Purdue product, went 3-for-19 with three RBIs in five games in the Gulf Coast League. All three hits were singles.

Perkins is a 6-foot-5, 200-pound third baseman who hit .355 with nine home runs and 61 RBIs for the Boilermakers won their first Big 10 title in more than 100 years this spring. Baseball America’s draft scouting report said Perkins is “A confident hitter who isn't afraid to attack early in the count or out of the strike zone.” Perkins gives the Cutters another right-handed bat to mix in with a lineup filled with four left-handers and two switch hitters on a daily basis.

Perkins was working out at first base during Saturday’s infield practice.

 
 

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