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Before the 2021 Cape Cod Baseball League season starts, there is still plenty of Chatham Anglers baseball to discuss. On The Hook broadcasters Emmanuel Berbari and Ben Shulman help preview the upcoming campaign with player interviews, MLB and NCAA check-ups, and a lot more.
Berbari and Shulman speak with former Chatham stars, future Anglers phenoms, and others in the CCBL world. Featured guests give insight into ups and downs of professional and collegiate baseball, as well as experiences on the Cape or future aspirations with Chatham.
This week, Robert Woodard joins The Hook ahead of the 2021 season-opener. The former Angels legend discusses his three seasons in Chatham as well as his current coaching career in Charlotte.
'I got to spend three summers in one of the best places on Earth playing for a legendary manager surrounded by big leaguers,' said Woodard. 'Some of my finest memories of any phase of my playing or coaching career up there in Chatham.'
Berbari and Shulman also sit down with 2021 Anglers beat writer Andrew Crane to recap the first week of practice. The three discuss standout players and what to expect as the season begins Sunday.
It's almost time for the 2021 CCBL season, so Berbari and Shulman look ahead to the upcoming campaign with Chatham manager Tom Holliday. This year presented many challenges for Holliday such as recruiting players following a canceled 2020 season.
'My goal was to have eight high quality position guys, and eight high quality arms, and then I'll just go ahead and start adding to it,' said Holliday. ' ' because there's so many guys, and so many draft eligible guys, you're going to gamble. And I'm gambling on five or six.'
Holliday went on to talk about Arizona State phenom ' and 2021 Angler ' Ethan Long, the process of following players during the College World Series and his excitement to return to the diamond this season.
In this week's episode, Ben speaks with Georgia Tech pitcher Zach Maxwell. The freshman is a member of the 2021 Anglers roster. Maxwell is one of the most featured relievers on the Yellow Jackets roster this season, as the 6-foot-6 right-hander ranked second on the team in appearances (20) at the time of recording.
Maxwell has been put in various roles, as a starter and reliever, in his young baseball career. The Ackworth, Georgia native discussed that challenge on The Hook.
'It's a hard transition,' said Maxwell. 'You go from having a set routine (as a starter), you pitch once every seven days ' and now you can pitch on back-to-back days. If you have a bad outing first night, you gotta turn around and flush it.'
On this edition of The Hook, Bradley catcher Keaton Rice sat down with Berbari and Shulman to give a check-in on his baseball career. Rice caught 23 games for the Anglers in 2019 and threw out four runners in 15 tries. Rice told The Hook about how strong defense has become his identity.
'I'd say my best defensive asset would be definitely my arm,' Rice said. 'Just being able to control the running game in every game we've played in (at Bradley this year), it's really a blessing for the pitching staff.'
Rice has landed on the NCAA best catcher award watch list ' once named the Johnny Bench Award, three times named the Buster Posey award ' in all four years at Bradley.
Episode three of The Hook features Georgia Tech outfielder Jake DeLeo, who has committed to Chatham for the 2021 season. From starring on one of the ACC's top teams to making SportsCenter Top 10-esque catches, the freshman has assembled a successful first season with the Yellow Jackets.
DeLeo is one of many underclassmen on now-Coastal champion Georgia Tech, and the Norwalk, Connecticut native spoke with Berbari and Shulman about the excitement of playing on a young team like the Jackets.
'It's kinda crazy to look at (our roster) on paper,' said DeLeo. 'Whether it be true freshman or COVID freshman, still everybody's first full year of playing, and talent-wise we're right there with everybody.'
Fellow freshmen, and 2021 Anglers, Zach Maxwell and Kevin Parada play alongside DeLeo for GT.
The first guest on the 2021 iteration of The Hook was North Carolina Central University pitcher Austin Vernon, who pitched for Chatham in 2019 and has since joined the 2021 roster as a temporary player. The 6-foot-8 pitcher has become a coveted draft product after parlaying his Angler success into a strong senior campaign with the Eagles. Vernon told The Hook about how Chatham improved him as a player.
'(Pitching well in Chatham) helped a lot honestly,' Vernon said. 'Knowing that 'hey, I can compete with the best of the best. Why not take this back with me and go compete who I compete against on a daily basis.''
Vernon went 3-0 with 31 strikeouts and 9 walks in his previous season with the Anglers, and the right-hander had a 1.52 ERA at the time of recording.
The Hook is back! Berbari and Shulman take the reins for the 2021 season with the hope of bringing lots of fun Anglers content before, and during, the upcoming campaign. The pair introduce themselves to the Chatham audience and discuss some of the future plans for The Hook as the summer nears. Chatham alumni with potential to break out in MLB this year are also discussed.