Defending CCBL Champion Brewster Carry Loose Approach
By: Brendan Samson
Topics: Cape Cod Baseball League , Brewster Whitecaps
BREWSTER – After sweeping the playoffs with four consecutive wins, the Brewster Whitecaps were crowned the Cape League’s 2021 champions. While the team is hoping to defend its title this summer, the Whitecaps’ focus at the start of the season has been finding the right team culture.
Just like most teams at this early stage of the season, the Whitecaps are still waiting for some of their best players to arrive. But Brewster manager Jamie Shevchik said he’s already liking what he’s seen from the players who are present, noting that they have displayed the culture he wants during the team’s 4-4 start.
“This is a great group of guys so far, and the thing that sucks about it is we still have probably a dozen guys that aren't here yet,” Shevchik said. “So, these guys start to get close and start to form bonds together and little by little, some guys gotta go and other guys come in. So, we hope that same type of culture can continue all summer long.”
A driving force in promoting this culture is the Whitecaps’ five returning players, including shortstop Alex Freeland, catcher Kurtis Byrne and pitchers Brian Fitzpatrick, Dale Stanavich and Brennen Oxford.
If you go to a Whitecaps game, it’s easy to see the team dynamic. They love playing baseball and having fun while they do it. Shevchik tries to make this a point of emphasis as he feels the CCBL is a different environment for the players than their college programs.
“I think a lot of these guys are micromanaged during the college season, just because the winning is so much at stake with the high salaries and everything else in the program that they're at,” Shevchik said. “Our philosophy is to kind of take some of the reins off them and let them start thinking for themselves and playing this game the way it's supposed to be – more of a hybrid of college baseball and professional baseball.”
One of the players who exhibits this philosophy is Freeland, an infielder from Central Florida, who showed up to a recent game with his baseball bag stocked with gummy bears that he then proceeded to hand out to his teammates.
He was one of the first players out of the dugout to congratulate a big hit, and one of the loudest players while doing it. This energy is what gives Shevchik confidence that his returners can bring back that same culture that the team had in 2021.
“[Freeland’s energy] is awesome,” Shevchik said. “I mean, Fitzpatrick, left-handed pitcher, and Dale Stanovich, those guys were the catalyst of our team last year so I'm happy to have them back. If that kind of personality and those characteristics translate into some of these other guys, it's gonna be a fun summer.”
In an effort to make things a little looser, Whitecaps players will sport their respective college teams’ hats this summer, providing them with a chance to show everybody in the stands where they came from before joining forces on the Cape.
One newcomer to the team is Henry Leake, a right-handed pitcher from Boston College who started in the team’s 7-2 win over Orleans on June 16. Despite being new, Leake said it’s easy to fit in.
“A lot of guys – even the new guys coming in – we just add right back into the team,” Leake said. “It's great to meet a bunch of these guys that are studs at their schools all around the country. The energy is kind of unmatched in the Cape, I played in the other summer leagues up here in the futures, NACBL and the Cape’s got a certain energy with the players and everybody helping out and the crowd.”
While the playoffs are still a long way away, the culture Brewster is fostering makes the Whitecaps a team to watch as the summer progresses. Right now, though, Shevchik said the team’s focus is growing closer.
“It's hard enough to compete in this league, our goal early right now isn’t to win a championship,” Shevchik said. “We want to play well enough to get ourselves into playoffs at some point, stay in that top four and anybody if you can get into the top four in your division, you have a shot to win it.”