AMSTERDAM — Jason Savacool is just like all of the pitchers in the Independent Collegiate Baseball League, in that he’s using the summer circuit to kick start a career that was derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Savacool’s brief, though successful career has already made him a baseball celebrity in central New York, and there’s so much still ahead for the recent Baldwinsville High School graduate who turned 18 in May.
“Three years from now he’ll be an early-round guy,” Amsterdam Mohawks head coach Greg Christodulu said before Saturday’s ICBL double-header with the Albany Athletics.
Savacool started the first game Saturday, and also got the call to pitch the Mohawks’ league-opener earlier this month. In both games the 6-foot, 200-pound righty showed some of the rust of a long layoff, but also the skill and guile that got him a spot on the USA 18U National Team last summer.
Part of his three-inning stint Saturday included back-to-back strikeouts to quell a second-inning threat.
“It’s really good to get the competitive juices going,” said Savacool, one of six Mohawks who come from parts beyond the Capital Region. “Competing is what I love to do. Really, this is about getting it all going again.”
“It’s a good prelude to his experience at Maryland,” Christodulu said.
Savacool accepted a scholarship offer from Maryland when he wasn’t selected in the June 10-11 Major League Baseball Draft, which was reduced from 40 rounds to five in a cost-saving measure by the MLB owners during the coronavirus shutdown.
MLB.com had Savacool slotted as the 156th-best prospect in the draft, even without the big numbers he was projected to deliver in his senior season that never happened.
MLB clubs were aware before the draft that it would take a handsome signing bonus to sway Savacool from Maryland to the pros.
“I set a pretty high number for myself,” said Savacool, who mixes a fastball clocked in the low 90s with a curve and changeup. “Teams didn’t want to meet that number.”
Savacool had committed to Maryland after his sophomore year when he won Section III and regional title games, and later pitched Baldwinsville to a state semifinal victory.
“I wanted to go to school in the first place,” said Savacool, who went 18-3 with a 1.31 ERA in three varsity seasons at Baldwinsville. “My parents are both educators. Education is big in my family.”
Savacool will be eligible for the Major League Baseball Draft again in 2023.
“I am looking to go three years [at Maryland] and do well as a lead up to that,” the 2020 Gatorade New York Player of the Year said. “I want to improve a lot as a player. I want to win a championship, too.”
But first, Savacool’s objective is to work his way back into top pitching form while using the ICBL to that end. He said he will likely take the two-hour trip from Syracuse to Amsterdam three more times this summer to hurl for the Mohawks.
“There are a couple of leagues closer to home, but they’re not as good in terms of competition,” Savacool said. “This is definitely better.”
Before joining the Mohawks, Savacool last pitched in game situations last September for silver medalist Team USA at the 18U World Baseball Softball Confederation World Cup in South Korea. He appeared in three games in relief and worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
“He was looking for something more competitive than a high school setting,” Christodulu said. “He likes this level. It’s good preparation for what he’ll be seeing.”
Reach Jim Schiltz at [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.