France’s D1 baseball season is still VERY young. Only three of the league’s 10 teams have played both weekends (four games). Six others only have two games under their belt, and one team – the Metz Cometz – hasn’t played at all.
Still, there have already been some standout performances on the offensive end. These are players who hit the ground running, as they say. Guys who’ve been red-hot from the get-go, and are worth paying attention to as the season progresses.
Fabian Kovacs (Barracudas)
That Fabi Kovacs of the Montpellier Barracudas is currently second in the league in hits (7) despite playing in just two games so far speaks to what a ridiculous Opening Day he had.
The feat – he went 4-for-4 in his first game of the season, then 3-for-4 that same afternoon – is all the more impressive given that the 21-year-old was sidelined the second half of last season with an injury. It’s been AGES since he played, in other words, and yet….
Weather permitting, the French-born player (of Hungarian descent) will get a chance to add to that hit total this Sunday in Nice, where he had a pretty impressive Opening Day last year too (he went 5-for-8).
Théo Lakmeche (Boucaniers)
La Rochelle’s star catcher has to be feeling GREAT right now. As a newcomer to the team last year, the 29-year-old French player collected 19 hits in 24 games. So far this year, he’s got nearly half that number in just four!
Lakmeche also has a four-game hit streak going, having collected one in his first game, three in his second, three more in the game after that, and two more in his fourth game, which was suspended after just five innings (the opposing team, Nice Cavigal, forfeited).
All together that makes nine hits, putting the former Savigny Lion in a two-way tie for first in the league. Lakmeche is also second in the league in RBIs, with eight, and has scored five runs. Pas mal du tout!
Héctor Velasquez (Templiers)
A newcomer to French baseball, infielder Héctor Velasquez is paying immediate dividends for his new team, the 4-0 Sénart Templiers.
The 36-year-old singled in just his second at-bat, and has been slashing ever since. Like Lakmeche, he has hit safely in all four of his games so far, collecting nine in total. He also leads the D1 in RBIs, with nine, and in total bases (12).
There are benefits, it would seem, to experience, and Velasquez has that in spades. Originally from Venezuela, he spent time in the country’s prestigious pro league, the LVPB, before coming to Europe in 2011. Since then he’s played in numerous European countries, including Spain and Italy.
He and the Templiers, leaders in Group B, are off the next two weeks, but travel to La Rochelle on May 8 to play a pair against Lakmeche and the Boucaniers.