2022 D1 Baseball Recruits (Part 3)

After seven years, Brazilian Allan Bellen-Fagnoni got the itch to try French baseball again

Infielder Alfredo Angarita (.393 average with a .513 on base percentage) was one of the most dangerous hitters in the D1 last year. Unfortunately for the Savigny Lions, the Venezuelan won’t be back for 2022. So who are they bringing on to replace him?

That’s a secret the Lions are keeping to themselves – perhaps until Opening Day.

Savigny isn’t the only team with a few surprises up their sleeves. The Montigny Cougars have said they’ll bring on a foreign pitcher to replace former LA Dodgers prospect Alexander Santana, who was a BIG-TIME difference maker (6-0, 1.38 ERA) when he joined the club midway through the 2021 season.

But who exactly will it be? Bonne question…

Still, as Le Baseblog reported earlier this month, we do know the names of some of this year’s foreign recruits. So far we’ve showcased five of those players. Here are two more, including one who’s technically making his return to the D1, but after a seven-year absence.

Allan Bellen-Fagnoni

For whatever reason, French baseball has a number of curious connections with Argentina, one of them being Agustín Tissera, who will be joining the Montigny Cougars this season.

But did you know that the D1 also has a few ties with Argentina’s gigantic, Portuguese-speaking neighbor? We’re talking, of course, about Brazil, home of Pelé, samba, caipirinhas and… Allan Bellen-Fagnoni!

Like Tissera, the towering 30-year-old (he’s two meters tall) will play for the Cougars this season, in his case as an outfielder. Interestingly, the two South Americans crossed paths two years ago in Germany, where they both played for the Mannheim Tornados.

That may be part of what drew Bellen-Fagnoni to Montigny. Another big selling point is the presence of fellow Brazilian national team member Gabriel Do Carmo, who has played for the Cougars since 2018, and played well (last year Do Carmo hit .320 in 15 games).

That’s right, Montigny will have not just one but dois brasileiros!

Interestingly, this won’t be Bellen-Fagnoni’s first foray into French baseball. The brawny Brazilian previously spent a season here back in 2015, when he hit an impressive .410 (with 2 home runs and 14 RBIs) for Stade Toulousain.

A pair of Brazilians: Do Carmo (left) and Bellen-Fagnoni (Credit: Montingy Cougars)

“I’m going to bring a certain amount of experience gained, over the course of my career, all across the world,” Bellen-Fagnoni, who played last season for the Hünstetten Storm, in Germany, said in a recent interview with the Montigny Cougars.

“I’m going to put my heart into trying to beat the top teams and do what I know how to best, which is hit and hit hard,” he added.

Samuel Granoff

Since joining the D1 in 2019, when the now 10-team league expanded from eight clubs to 12, the Metz Cometz have relied heavily on foreign imports to stay competitive. This year will be no exception, especially with the added challenge of competing, during the regular season, in an entirely different division.

Le Baseblog has already written about two of the team’s new faces: cather Markus Melendez and two-way player Trevor Rogers. In addition, the Cometz are also bringing on a pure pitcher, one who played university ball in the United States for two different schools in the NCAA D1: the University of San Francisco and Duke.

We’re talking about Sam Granoff, who made a remarkable comeback from shoulder surgery during his university career, and will now be making a new comeback of sorts – after three years away from the game.

Granoff, originally from Naples (in Florida, not Italy), feels good about his chances, especially given his style of pitching, which he describes as “crafty.” He’s never been a power pitcher, in other words, but has instead found success by mixing up the style and velocity of his throws.

“This is a ‘comeback’ in more than one way. Time off has not only allowed my body to rest and strengthen, but [also] for my mind to put things into perspective… And who doesn’t love a comeback story?” Granoff recently told the Metz Cometz.

The “crafy” lefty at work in San Francisco (Credit: SFU Athletics)

Depending on how things go, the story might just make its way into print. Granoff said he’s planning to work on a baseball-themed novel this summer before starting a PhD program in the fall. A man of many talents, he also plays drums and guitar.

The pitcher’s first challenge, however, will be to dust off his throwing skills and get ready for the season opener, on April 10, when the Cometz host a doubleheader against Paris UC.

4 comments

  1. […] It’ll be interesting in particular to see how Metz fares on the pitching end, given that they recruited not one but two foreign starters: Patrick Jordan, who previously played for Westfield State, in Massachusetts, and Sam Granoff, who pitched at both the University of San Francisco and Duke. […]

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