Spotlight On The D1’s Biggest Bats (Part 2)

Nice’s Jonathan Montas delivered a hit parade this season (Credit: B. Witte)

This is the second entry in a three-part series in the top offensive performers in the recently concluded regular phase of France’s D1 baseball league.

As previously mentioned, this is not meant to be a ranking (the 13 selected players are listed in alphabetical order based on their last names). Also, apologies to the deserving players — several come to mind — who didn’t make the list. Your accomplishments don’t go unnoticed.

So, without further ado, back to the list… [5-9]

Felix Brown — Sénart Templiers

Brown went 4-for-9 on the final day of the regular season (Credit: B. Witte)

Another national-team player who performed phenomenally in the regular phase of the D1 season is Felix Brown of the Sénart Templiers.

A veteran in the D1, the 32-year-old is batting a torrid .410, is tied with Acuña and Nice’s Jonathan Montas for the league lead in home runs (2), and finished the regular season third in both hits (25 — tied with La Rochelle’s Ramiro Milar) and total bases (38).

Originally from Saint Martin, Brown played for Ohio Dominican University in the United States and went on to professional stints in Canada, Japan and Hawaii before settling in with the Templiers.

Forrest Crawford — La Rochelle Boucaniers

La Rochelle’s Crawford is a team leader in every sense (Credit: B. Witte)

Injury kept player/manager Forrest Crawford out of the lineup in 2019, but in 2020 he took advantage of his club’s participation in the so-called French Summer League (a mixed-level competition that was organized as a replacement of sorts for the cancelled D1 campaign) to get back into the groove.

That he did, batting .450 in the mini season. In the regular season, that rhythm very much carried over. In 54 at bats, the former Ivy Leaguer (he attended Cornell University in the United States) led his team in average (.352), walks (15), stolen bases (6) and runs scored (15). He also had 19 hits and 9 RBIs.

Patrick Cromwell — Montpellier Barracudas

Patience paid off for Montpellier’s Patrick Cromwell (Credit: B. Witte)

A newcomer to French baseball, it took shortstop Patrick Cromwell a while to get into the swing of things. In fact, he went hitless in his first five games with the Barracudas and struck out 16 times in 78 at bats. So why is he on our list?

The answer is that for this former Clemson University player, patience is a virtue that ended up paying serious dividends.

In his sixth game in France, Cromwell went 3-5 and hasn’t looked back since. He finished the regular season with a .269 average, the lowest of any player on this list. But he also collected a respectable 13 RBIs, walked 17 times (only Rouen’s Jacob Miller, with 19 BBs, got more), tied Sénart’s Alex Perdomo for second in the league in runs scored (20), was first in triples (both he and Perdomo had four), and finished among the league leaders in hits, with 21.

Expect to hear more about the southern Californian as the playoffs get underway, starting this weekend.

Thomas Joyce — Metz Cometz

Joyce made his mark this year in Metz (Credit: B. Witte)

Playing overseas for the first time, catcher Thomas Joyce has made the most of the opportunity and given his squad, the Metz Cometz, some much needed punch in the lineup.

A recent graduate of Merrimack College in Massachusetts, the Boston native batted .367 in the regular season and was among the league leaders in hits, with 22. He’s also tied for third in the league in triples (3) behind Monptellier’s Patrick Cromwell and Alex Perdomo of Sénart, who each have four.

Jonathan Montas — Nice Cavigal

Montas can mash — and he pitches too (Credit: B. Witte)

This hasn’t been an easy year for the Nice Cavigal team. They finished 5-15 in the regular season and tied for last place in the league’s B pool. But when it came to the individual play of catcher Jonathan Montas, there’s little to say but… wow!

The dynamic Dominican has been a monster at the plate this year, batting a sizzling .434 with a league-leading 33 hits (tied with Sénart’s Andy Paz) and 48 total bases. He also had two home runs in the regular season (tied for first in the league), and led his team in RBIs (14) and runs scored (14).

The energy Montas brings to the plate each time is all the more impressive given that he also pitched nearly 40 innings in the regular season, going 1-4 with 36 strikeouts and a team best 3.86 ERA.    

To be continued…

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