February 25, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: Monmouth's Fletcher works toward his goal

By Gary Hawkins ghawkins@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Kyle Fletcher has two more years of high school and American Legion baseball to achieve his goal of becoming a DIvision I player. But he's not standing pat.

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MAKING DREAMS: Monmouth Academy junior Kyle Fletcher quaiified recently to play in two all-star baseball games this summer.

Staff file photo

The Monmouth Academy junior was one of 100 players nationwide to be selected by the Baseball Factory to play a series of all-star games during week-long stints in Omaha, Neb., and Bradenton, Fla., this summer. The Baseball Factory, headquartered in Columbia, Md., is a company that specializes in developing high school players and placing them on college teams.

Fletcher tried out recently at Franklin Pierce University for a chance to play two national tournaments sponsored by Under Armour. He was selected from a pool of 3,900 players under the age of 18. He'll play his first tournament in Omaha, Neb., at TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series, shortly after that tournament ends, then in August, he'll spend a week of training and playing games at the Pittsburgh Pirates facility in Bradenton, Fla.

"They said there would be quite a few college scouts there plus it's just going to be cool," Fletcher said.

Fletcher learned of the program from American Legion teammate Dennis Meehan, a senior from Gardiner Area High School who participated in it last year.

Fletcher works out at home regularly with his dad Joe, the boys soccer coach at Monmouth, and occasionally under the tutelage of neighbor Bill Fairchild, the former baseball coach at Oak Hill.

"He helps me out a lot on mechanics," Fletcher said of Fairchild.

Scouts at the tryouts were impressed with Fletcher's pitching mechanics as well as his control. He went 1-4 on the mound for the Mustangs last season with an earned run average of 1.63. His walks and hits per seven innings or WHIP was 1.21.

"He keeps the ball down," Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi said. "He keeps hitters off balance. He's always thrown mechanically very well."

When he doesn't pitch, Fletcher plays center field and is considered one of the better defensive players in the Mountain Valley Conference. He also batted .531 for Monmouth last season but sees his future, at least as a possible Division I player, on the mound.

"I think I have my best chance as a pitcher, mainly because I'm left-handed," Fletcher said. "I'm good defensively in the outfield, but I don't think I can hit well enough to play Division I."

Fletcher's best pitch is his changeup, but both he and Palleschi agree he needs to add miles per hour to his fastball. He was clocked at 78 mph at his recent tryout.

"I'd like to get to 80 by the end of the year," Fletcher said. "Right now I'm pretty much a control pitcher and try to get people to ground out."

Fletcher has worked hard on his strength and conditioning with Frank Navarro, a trainer from the Portland area. He's worked with kettle bells throughout the winter in an effort to gain strength and muscle without bulking up too much. He's already added 20 pounds to his 5-foot-9 frame and weighs 170.

Palleschi likes Fletcher's composure on the mound and in the field and said his best attribute is his competitiveness.

"He wants to and expects to win every time he goes out," Palleschi said. "He's a hard worker. He's put a lot of time into baseball."

Fletcher is accepting donations and looking for sponsors to defray his expenses this summer. Checks can be made out to the Baseball Factory and sent to him at 624 Rt. 135, Monmouth, ME, 04259.

Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638

ghawkins@centralmaine.com

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