The winter is over, finally, and with Opening Day of France’s D1 baseball season now just three weeks away, information about how the participating teams plan to boost their respective rosters continues to filter in.
In our series on foreign recruits, Le Baseblog has so far featured seven incoming players, including a pair from countries, namely Argentina and Brazil, that don’t necessarily come to mind as sources of high-level baseball talent.
Next up we turn our attention to two more imports, a catcher and pitcher. Both are from the United States, and both are heading to teams that have made a habit, in recent years, of meeting in the league finals.
The Sénart Templiers boasted the D1’s best record last year as well as its most potent offense. And of all their hot hitters, nobody did it better than former Oakland Athletics prospect Andy Paz, who went on to earn league MVP honors.
For the second season in a row, however, the team lost to the Rouen Huskies in the finals. And during the offseason, Sénart also lost Paz, who decided for personal and professional reasons to take a break this year.
Needless to say, the star catcher leaves some very big shoes to fill, and given his stature, Paz will be missed not just in Sénart, but in French baseball as a whole.
Replace him they must, however, and to that end, the Templiers are excited to welcome a catcher from the “Golden State” with some proven skills at the plate.
Thomas Greely played two seasons at San Joaquin Delta College, in California’s Central Valley, batting .333 his first year, in 2018, and .294 his second. The now 24-year-old then took his talents to California State University Long Beach (CSULB), in the NCAA DI (the highest level of American university sports), where he hit .333 in the COVID-shorted season of 2020 and .167 last year, in very limited action. Greely only had 18 at bats.
This won’t be the first time the Templiers take a chance on someone from Long Beach State, as the school is also known. In 2019, fellow CSULB alum Daniel Jackson had a sensational season in Sénart, leading the league in hits (52, tied with Ariel Soriano), doubles (17) and total bases (84).
Greely received several offers to play in Europe this season, but decided, in the end, that Sénart felt like the best fit.
“First off, I can’t wait to meet and get to know new people,” he told the team in a recent interview. “Baseball may be my number one passion, but I also like getting out and meeting new people. And as far as baseball is concerned, I’m looking forward to winning, and winning a lot!”
Compared to CUSLB, with a student population of nearly 40,000, Macalester College is tiny. Only about 2,000 people attend the liberal arts college. Located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, it doesn’t have the southern California sun either. And its sports teams play in the D-III, the NCAA’s third division.
What Macalester does have is a proven record, in France, of producing real pitching talent.
Fans may recall the exploits of pitcher James Murrey, who had a long and impressive run in the D1 starting in 2011, when he went 6-2 with a 1.11 ERA for Stade Toulousain. His last season came in 2019, again with the Toulouse Tigers, when the right-hander posted a nifty 1.34 ERA with 92 strikeouts in just 74 innings. In between he played several season for Paris UC.
Now, the defending champion Huskies are ready to bring on a Macalester product of their own: pitcher William Moscato, a 21-year-old righty who also has some skills, it turns, out, in the classroom.
The dual French-American citizenship and is currently in his final year at Macalester, where he’s studying applied mathematics and statistics. He won’t be available for Rouen, therefore, until the end of the academic year, presumably in late May.
The good news is that he’ll be coming in fresh off the university season. But there are also some question marks with regards to Moscato, who is attempting a comeback of sorts after losing the 2020 season to the COVID crisis and then sitting out last year too, in that case due to injury.
So far this year, the Scots, as the Macalester team is known, have struggled. They’re just 2-8 but have yet to play at home. Moscato was their opening day starter, but lasted fewer than three innings and picked up the loss.
He and the Scots still have a month-and-a-half to turn things around, however. And with any luck, the young Franco-Américain will have rounded nicely into form for when he does arrive, perhaps just in time to help the Huskies in the Challenge de France tournament (May 26-29).