During the offseason, fans voted on the commemorative logo in celebration of the Dutchmen's 10th season
ALBANY, N.Y.- Two key players are back for the Albany Dutchmen as they enter the 2018 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season.
Reigning PGCBL Pitcher of the Year Matt Pierce (Siena College/Schenectady, NY) and PGCBL All-Star infielder Nick Estrella (Azusa Pacific/Tuscon, AZ) are among seven Dutchmen who are returning after guiding Albany to a second-place finish in the East Division with a team-record 33 regular season wins.
Pierce began 2017 as a reliever, but he answered the call when he was converted into a starting pitcher, posting a 5-0 record. He finished the regular season with a league-leading 8-1 mark and a 1.71 earned run average. His eight wins also set a new Dutchmen record.
As a team, Albany was second in the PGCBL with a 3.73 ERA and tied with Amsterdam for first in saves (14). The Dutchmen tied Jamestown for second place in shutouts with five, and they finished fourth in team strikeouts with 382.
Besides Pierce, Albany welcomes back two pitchers from last year's team – Greg Marino (Stony Brook/Centereach, NY) and Nick Bruno (Siena College/Schenectady, NY). Marino was one of the top starters for the Dutchmen, posting a 2-1 record in six starts with a 1.67 ERA. Bruno posted a 1-0 record with a 2.79 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched. Another pitcher, Dylan D'Anna (Siena College/Wappingers Falls, NY), is back for his second stint with the Dutchmen. D'Anna had five wins and a 2.43 ERA in 2016.
One newcomer to watch is Emanuel Fernandez (Ole Miss/Lake Worth, FLA). Fernandez was rated the No. 15 left-handed pitcher from the State of Florida by Perfect Game after posting a 5-1 record and a 0.70 ERA in his senior season at Park Vista Community High School.
Estrella was a key component of Albany's fast-flying offense in 2017. He compiled a .308 batting average with 10 doubles, 35 runs scored, 28 runs batted in and 19 stolen bases. As a team, the Dutchmen led the PGCBL in stolen bases (120), and they placed second in doubles (96) and home runs (25).
Albany should test opposing defenses with its base running once again. Besides Estrella, the Dutchmen add infielder Nick Grande (Stony Brook/Smithtown, NY) to the mix. Grande stole 32 bases and posted a team-best .394 batting average for Stony Brook this past spring.
Outfielders Zach Durfee (Siena College/Malta, NY) and Griffen Herrera (Azusa Pacific/Glendora, CA) are also returning for the Dutchmen this season. Durfee batted .274 with 21 runs scored and 13 stolen bases in 41 games last year, while Herrera had 16 hits, 13 runs scored and 12 RBI in 30 appearances.
Albany has also added two top-level recruits to its offense – first baseman John Malcolm (Vanderbilt '18/Detroit County Day Upper HS) and third baseman Justin Wright (St. John's '18).
Malcolm is rated as the top prospect from Michigan and the No. 46 overall prospect by Perfect Game after batting .430 in his junior year at Detroit County Day Upper (2017), and he posted a 6.8-second time in the 60-yard dash. Wright is currently ranked third among all third basemen prospects. He posted a .393 batting average and a .452 on-base percentage playing for Team All-Americans in Pennsylvania last year.
Albany has eight players on this year's roster that have ties to the Capital Region. Four players graduated from Guilderland High School: Pierce, Bruno, pitcher Nick Grabek (Fairfield) and infielder Cameron Collett (Marshall). Durfee attended Ballston Spa High School before playing for Siena, while infielder Nick Jacques (Le Moyne) is a Shenendehowa graduate. Pitchers James Rubino (LaSalle/Hudson Valley Community College) and Nick Bird (Schalmont/Albany) round out the list.
Season at a glance
Albany begins its 2018 PGCBL season with a pair of home games against the Oneonta Outlaws Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3 at Siena College's Connors Park. The Dutchmen then hit the road for games against the Glens Falls Dragons Monday, June 4, and the Saugerties Stallions Tueesday, June 5, before returning home to face Glens Falls Thursday, June 7. All home games start at 5:05 p.m.
Glens Falls is Albany's most common opponent with 10 games scheduled between the Northway rivals. The Dutchmen face Saugerties and the Amsterdam Mohawks nine times apiece, while they play Oneonta eight times.
Albany will play in a realigned PGCBL this season. The league has gone from a two-division format to a three-division format, with Albany remaining in the East Division with Amsterdam, Glens Falls, Oneonta and Saugerties. Defending PGCBL champion Mohawk Valley moves from the East to the new Central Division, where it joins Utica, Adirondack and a new team in Watertown. The West Division is comprised of Elmira, Geneva, Jamestown and Newark.
With the realigned divisions comes a new playoff format this season. The top two teams in each division automatically qualify for the postseason, and the third-place team from the division containing the team with the best overall record receives a bid. The team with the best record also receives a bye for the one-game divisional playoff round. After the divisional round concludes, the four remaining teams will be reseeded by regular season record and meet in a best-of-three semifinal series.
Connors Park at Siena College
This is the second year that the Dutchmen have called Connors Park at Siena College their home. The ballpark is located in the heart of Siena College's Loudonville campus and has served as the Saints' home field since the 1950s. Connors Park has undergone renovations in recent years that have included the installation of chair-back seating behind home plate, new dugouts and a new press box.