Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, April 18, 2024

Tufts baseball stars lead Vermont Lake Monsters to best record in Futures Collegiate Baseball League

In America, summer means baseball. While players from the NFL, NBA and NHL enjoy their offseason, Major League Baseball is in full swing, with ballparks in major cities across the country hosting games every night. The same can be said for more than 100 Minor League Baseball teams across five different levels of play that take the field on an almost nightly basis from April to September. The market for summer baseball is so big in the U.S. that it’s no surprise that there are opportunities for the best players in college baseball, including those from the Tufts baseball program, to showcase their talents after the spring college baseball season is finished.

At the conclusion of the 2022 NCAA Division III baseball season, Tufts outfielder Jimmy Evans, pitcher Silas Reed and catcher Connor Bowman reunited in Burlington, Vt. to play for the Vermont Lake Monsters of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. From 2011 to 2019, the Lake Monsters competed at the Single-A level of Minor League Baseball in the New York–Penn League. In 2020, the Minor League Baseball season was canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the New York–Penn League was dissolved, prompting the Lake Monsters to join the FCBL in 2021 when play resumed. Evans, a senior, and Reed, a junior, joined the Lake Monsters in the second half of the 2021 season and helped them win the championship in their first season in the league, with Evans being named Championship Series MVP.  

After only playing for part of the 2021 FCBL season, the 2022 season gave Evans the opportunity to display his dominance over the course of a complete 64-game regular season, and boy, did he ever. The First Team All-NESCAC outfielder led the 8-team league in runs batted in and was named to the FCBL All-Star team, the Lake Monsters’ MVP and a league MVP finalist, all while leading his team to a league-best 44–19 win-loss record. The Lake Monsters cruised to a 2–0 series sweep of Westfield Starfires in the league semifinal but were upset 2–1 by the Nashua Silver Knights in the Championship Series. Evans doubled, walked and scored a run and Reed pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the decisive Game 3.

Despite the ultimate heartbreak, Evans produced many unforgettable highlights and memories over the course of the 2022 season. One he described is the three-run pinch-hit home run that he demolished to right field in the 7th inning to help the Lake Monsters come back from a nine-run deficit to defeat the Worcester Bravehearts at home on Star Wars night on July 23.

Evans and Reed also improved their games while with the Lake Monsters.

“Learning from all the guys and the coaches, I came up with more of an approach at the plate. … When there’s guys throwing consistently in the 90s, you have to go up there with sort of a plan of attack in every at-bat of what you’re trying to do based on the situation,” Evans said. “It was a long summer. I played 55 games, so going through that daily grind and understanding what it’s like to be like a professional player when you’re going out there every single day really helped me grow mentally and also physically.”

“This summer I threw four pitches for the first time since I’ve been in college, so I think being able to control all four pitches and throw them all at the same time is one way that I’ve improved,” Reed reflected. Another area of growth, he said, was “being able to figure out when things aren’t going my way, like if I’m not controlling my pitches or something, figuring out ways to get back to where I want to be, being able to throw all my pitches for strikes and where I want them to go.”

Lastly, playing in front of the home crowd in Burlington was an exhilarating experience for Evans, and it gave him an exclusive look at what it must be like to be a professional baseball player.

“The atmosphere there is just unbelievable, like something I’ve never been a part of. We get [3,000–5,000] fans almost every game. The fans are unbelievable there. Even on a Tuesday night we’ll get 1,500 people there,” Evans said. “All the guys there are celebrities to the city of Burlington because that’s like their major league team.”

“It was cool being able to be there from day one, experiencing a full season,” he added. “I think I played like 55 games this summer on top of 37 or so with Tufts, so I played around 90 games overall. So that was a lot of fun because it gives you a pro ball experience type thing, when you’re playing a lot of games.”

Evans and Reed each have three years of NCAA eligibility remaining and will play for the Jumbos in 2023. Bowman will also return to the Jumbos in 2023 as a graduate student.