With a roster stacked full of new players hailing from coast to coast, the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks are ready to defend their title this summer as the champions of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

Coming off a season where the Sharks’ potent offense and lights-out bullpen was key in their championship run, general manager Russ Curran pieced together this year’s roster with a similar formula. However, one thing jumps out in particular, the Sharks are big. They’ve got big guys with big bats and big arms.

From Jayden Hylton, a 6’5 freshman outfielder from Stetson University with five homers so far this college season, to Scott Seeker, a 6’4 power-hitting lefty first basemen who has six long balls and 18 RBIs while batting .370 for Mount St. Mary’s, there’s a lot to look forward to in terms of firepower in the Shark’s lineup.

On the mound, the Sharks also have a trio of towering hurlers starting with Oklahoma’s Peyton Olejnik, a 6’9 sophomore. Then there’s Gavin Van Kempen, a 6’6 freshman from West Virginia who was drafted in the 20th round of the 2022 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. And James Tallon, a 6’5 southpaw freshman from Duke with a .71 earned run average, 20 strikeouts and five saves through 12 and two thirds innings so far this season.

Team and fans celebrate after winning league title in 2022. — Ray Ewing

“Nobody can barrel up his ball,” Mr. Curran said of Tallon.

Additionally, the Sharks are bringing on plenty of players who are playing lots of ball as the college season gets underway. From Duke, freshman Andrew Fischer is tearing it up at the plate this year batting .327 with seven home runs, 25 hits and 20 RBI. At St. Johns, future Shark Marty Higgins is also off to a scorching start hitting .382 with 34 hits, 20 RBI and three bombs. From the Ivy League, Caiden Shapiro has been an everyday player for the Princeton Tigers, hitting .308 with 16 hits and 8 RBIs. He also has a connection at the major league level as his father, Mark, is the president of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Shapiro isn’t the only Shark with a connection to professional sports on the roster either. Carsten Sabathia, a 6’4 freshman at Georgia Tech, is the son of former Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia. He has only played in five games this year but has a home run with three RBI and is ranked the number three first basemen in the country by Perfect Game. There is also Kaden Martin, a freshman outfielder from the University of Miami whose father, Tee, is the quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Before he became a coach, Kaden’s father played quarterback in the NFL and led the Tennessee Volunteers to a national championship in 1998.

Returning to the Sharks to help keep the Fay Vincent cup on the Island are Harrison Brown, Aiden Tierney, Matt Maloney, Jacob Weaver and Jack Beauchesne. Last season Brown and Tierney patrolled the outfield for the Sharks and Maloney was a stand-in catcher. Weaver and Beauchesne toed the rubber last season, Beauchesne was a bullpen workhorse who led the team in innings at 30 and two thirds, he struck out 26 and only walked six.

The Sharks also have a new manager this year as Jay Mendez is now working for the Tampa Bay Rays as a scout. The new skipper is Billy Uberti, a former hitting coach for the Sharks 2018 Futures League championship team. Coach Uberti is from Newton and is currently the head coach at Lasell College where he was formerly a captain during his junior and senior seasons in 2013 and ‘14. He holds the single-season school record for ERA at 2.12 and on-base percentage at .500, he also played professionally in Australia for one year after graduating.

Leading up to what’s sure to be an entertaining season at the ballpark this summer, the Sharks have a dine to donate night at Offshore Ale on April 4 where autographed jerseys from David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Raffy Devers are up for silent auction. Other Sharks merch and a championship bat will also be auctioned off. patrons must bring a screenshot or hard copy of the coupon available on the Shark’s Facebook and Instagram page to donate.

The Sharks are also in need of host families as they gear up for the year of title defense. Kids drop-in clinics are available for registration now and season tickets are on sale. The Cotuit Kettleers are coming to the Island on June 5 for a preseason scrimmage before the North Shore Navigators visit the Shark Tank on opening day June 7. Bring a glove to catch a homer and we’ll see you in the beer garden.