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Mohawks gear up for summer amid COVID-19 concerns

Mohawks gear up for summer amid COVID-19 concerns

PGCBL season currently slated to start May 29; cancellation of college baseball season could open up opportunities to bring in new players
Mohawks gear up for summer amid COVID-19 concerns
The Amsterdam Mohawks are scheduled to open their 2020 season on May 29.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

While there’s uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Amsterdam Mohawks are moving forward with preparations for the 2020 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season. It’s a season that could look very different, thanks to the cancellation of the college baseball season and potential ramifications regarding the Major League Baseball draft.

Should the season get underway, it could also provide an opportunity for the Mohawks to bring in even more high-profile talent.

Both the PGCBL and the Mohawks issued statements this week taking a “wait and see” approach in preparation for the statement. As of now, opening night across the PGCBL is scheduled for May 29 — the defending champion Mohawks are set to host the Adirondack Trail Blazers in a rematch of the 2019 PGCBL Championship Series — though both organizations acknowledged the fluidity of the situation. 

“We will follow all of the CDC recommendations and standards as established by the NCAA and the baseball industry with regard to commencing the season and protecting the health and well-being of the players, our staff and fans,” PGCBL president Robert Julian said in the league’s statement. “However, we look forward with optimism that our season will commence, and we are making preparations accordingly.”

Mohawks president and general manager Brian Spagnola said that even if the league is forced to postpone its opening date, the PGCBL has wiggle room in which to complete its season.

“We end three weeks earlier than we need to,” Spagnola said. “Aug. 15 is the date summer baseball needs to be done, and our regular season this year ends July 26. There’s the ability to add on at the end, which is our saving grace — hopefully.”

“There’s no sense making a decision about a start date or anything until there’s more information. We’re waiting.”

While waiting, the Mohawks are also ramping up their recruiting efforts by reaching out to their contacts in the college coaching community. Amsterdam already has a solid roster signed for the season made up of mostly freshman and sophomore players from power conference schools like Mississippi State, Wake Forest and Maryland, but the lack of a collegiate season could open up several opportunities to bring in older players looking to play this summer.

That will be especially true if Major League Baseball decides to move the draft, which is currently scheduled to run from June 10-12, but remains up in the air with the start of the MLB season indefinitely postponed.

“All the [college] juniors that are draft guys didn’t worry about summer ball. Now, they probably have to play,” Spagnola said, citing 2018 Mohawk Justin Foscue of Mississippi State — a potential second-round pick — as an example. “We’re making a concerted effort to reach out to our college coach contacts about that scenario.”

There’s also the possibility of looking to add current seniors who could be given an extra year of eligibility due by the NCAA due to the season’s cancellation.

Spagnola stressed that the Mohawks remain committed to the players they’ve already signed for this summer, but the team wants to keep its options open to accommodate as much talent as possible in what’s sure to be a crowded pool.

“It’s going to be a different dynamic, that’s for sure,” Spagnola said. “We have to figure out, numbers-wise, what we’re going to do, if we’re going to have all of these guys plus the guys we already signed. It’s a different year. We might just carry a bigger roster, explain to guys, ‘Hey, this year you’re only going to play every other day.’ 

“It’s a different summer. There’s a lot of people you’ve got to accommodate. They just want to play. I’m sure everybody’s going to be understanding.”

Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.

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