(Photo credit to The Clubhouse)

Nobody associates Connecticut with “baseball hotbed”, and for fair reason. It is a small state in the cold Northeast and does not churn out impact talent at the major league level on a yearly basis. Some Fairfield teams have flashed promise with Little League World Series appearances. World Series MVP George Springer was born and raised in New Britain while also playing his college ball for CT at the University of Connecticut, but what have you done for me lately?

Well, in the Fairfield County area, a cold wind is rising. The Clubhouse is establishing itself as one of the premier AAU programs in the entire Northeast, let alone Connecticut. Coaches Mike Porzio and Maxx Catapano have helped direct the program to new heights in recent years, churning out multiple Division I commitments to programs like the University of Arkansas, University of Maryland, Villanova University, University of Connecticut, Boston College, Sacred Heart, and Tulane. The list is now up to 31 total D1 commitments over the last two years. Their imprint can be found all over college baseball in the Northeast, but it does not end there.

The Clubhouse performed well on the Perfect Game circuit last season, with their 2018 Elites gaining a Top 100 Ranking with Perfect Game, while their 15U squad went 4-0 in the Super 25 New England regional. A few of their prospects have attended Prep Baseball Report’s Future Games as underclassmen, one of whom even won the MVP honors of the tournament in 2016.

Let’s start there, with Dillon Lifrieri, Mr. MVP and future Arkansas Razorback. This 2018 commit and absolute baseball rat plays for multiple AAU teams, but began his ascension up the New England radar back in 2016 with The House. A five-tool prospect, LiFrieri dropped some jaws with batting practice displays in Indiana with Prep Baseball Report’s Team Connecticut. The physical measurables show why scouts and college recruiters alike have been on top of Lifrieri’s development. 100 mph exit velocity, a 60 time in the 6.5-second range with Perfect Game, and an arm measured up to 91 mph, and this was all back when he was a sophomore. Now a senior, he has developed further with hard work during off seasons and constant in-season training.   

With the range and arm to be a plus defensive player, and offensive skills that are always on display against elite competition, he may not make it to Fayetteville by the time he wraps up his senior season at Wilton High School.

The headline position player of the 2019 class, and possibly best 2019 prospect in all of New England, is Bobby Zmarzlak. A lean, projectable 6-foot-4 outfielder who crushed the Perfect Game Super 25 tournament last summer after an impressive sophomore campaign, Zmarzlak’s quick, loose hands send the bat through the zone with authority, helping him bop homers and hits of the extra bases variety.

Porzio & Co. have a knack for helping their toolshed outfielders make good on their promise. With the intention of playing for the University of Maryland and the new regime of Coach Rob Vaughn, this is the type of player who should compete for an immediate role unless his path takes him directly into rookie ball.

Rounding out this list is a 2020 right-handed pitcher by the name of Saar Rosa. Already committed to join the University of Connecticut when he matriculates, expect his game to continue growing in the coming years under the tutelage of this coaching staff. Rosa boasts a fastball clocked as high as 87 mph with life, despite having not thrown a single varsity pitch yet. The secondary offerings need refinement but the flashes are there, especially with his hard biting, mid-to-upper 70s slider.

These three are just a few of the high-end talents growing with The House in the next three recruiting classes. Other notable mentions include Fairfield Prep standouts Will Lucas (University of Connecticut), of former Little League World Series fame, and Joe Mancini (Boston College) from 2018’s class, their athletic battery mate Daniel Fallacaro (Sacred Heart), and 2019 right-handed pitcher and catcher Montana Semmel (University of Connecticut) whose heavy fastball was clocked up to 91 mph this fall. I could keep going but 31 names is a lot of ground to cover. For a complete list of their signed prospects, check out their PG profile here.

Good things are happening and more are on the way for The Clubhouse. With a pipeline of talent, a true emphasis on development, and a winning culture, this program is here to stay and continue pushing the Connecticut baseball brand in the right direction. As they are fond of saying, #BestInCT.

Kevin Black

Staff writer with CBBSN.

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