Prep Baseball Report

Menzel Pumped To Play Baseball Every Day At Maine

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

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Menzel Pumped To Play Baseball Every Day At Maine

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Evan Menzel SS / 2B / Coventry, CT / 2024

COVENTRY, Ct. - The chance to play in the state baseball championship game was a blessing in more ways than one for Evan Menzel.

Not only did the 16th-ranked 2024 in Connecticut enjoy playing for his Coventry High School team, but it gave the University of Maine another opportunity to see him play on the big stage.

“Watching me at state, he loved how I was the leader of the team,” Menzel said about Maine head coach Nick Derba. “He told me I was an animal at the plate. He said ‘I love your ability’ and ‘we can coach you up to be a professional baseball player.’”

That is something the 17-year-old has dreamed about.

“For me, it wasn’t the facilities, although they were beautiful,” Menzel said of what he liked about Maine that led to a commitment. “I love coach Derba. I want to get to the MLB and with him being my next coach I think he can get me to that goal. I had a long talk with him while I was there and he answered the questions openly.”

While the visit to the American East Conference university in Orono, Maine came during the summer, it was much earlier when Menzel made an effort to contact college coaches.

“I was trying to reach out to bigger schools, reaching out to everybody in that conference,” Menzel reflected. “I didn’t put a video into the email to Maine which I usually do and it shocked me when he got back to me and said to send a video. He also asked about my grades. We started having contact after that and he came to some games.

“I was fortunate the high school team made it to the state championship and he came and watched. He loved how I ran the team. He called me the next morning and gave me an offer.”

There were other schools considered by Menzel, who carries a 3.5 GPA and is looking at a major in business.

“During the summer I toured a bunch of campuses and got a bunch of offers,” noted Menzel, who had visits to Farleigh Dickenson, Albany, Franklin Pierce and Binghamton in addition to Maine. “When I went to Maine I loved it. I liked the coaches, the players and the program. I took a few days and then called and committed.”

The 79th-ranked senior in Connecticut is excited about what the future holds at Maine.

“The end goal is to win,” Menzel pointed out. “I want to bring a conference championship back to the program. I want to start freshman year. He likes the type of player that is scrappy and never gives up, guys that go out on the field and perform and I think I’ll bring that to the program.”

A commitment brings a close to a recruiting process that has been going on for some time.

“My first showcases were with PBR starting when I was young,” Menzel explained. “Now you have to start young. I was able to get looks from Division III schools as a freshman and that felt great. Right off the bat I knew I could get to the next level.

“It really kicked into gear this summer going on visits,” the 5-7 162-pound left-handed hitter continued. “It was stressful, but all the coaches were nice and the hospitality was great. It was hard to say no, but at the end of the day I had to make a decision that was right for me.”

The 36th-rated 2024 shortstop in New England had a lot of help getting to the point of a Maine commit.

“I play for Antonelli Baseball and they transitioned me from a scrappy player when I was young to play travel baseball,” Menzel said. “I had to work, get in the weight room and gain weight. Everything had to be faster for college. It really turned me into the baseball player I am today.”

There was other help as well for the 18th-rated 2024 middle infielder in Connecticut, who is looked at as a second baseman once time comes for freshman year of college.

“As a young kid Mark Bagdasarian coached me from age 9-14,” Menzel related. “He was always tough on me but that toughened me up. He taught me all the fundamentals. When I got older Walter Beede opened my eyes to what college baseball players look like. That was huge.

“Matt Antonelli helped a lot through my recruitment giving me feedback on schools. He had so many connections. Matt Mayo helped me develop as a hitter from a scrappy hitter to someone with power and Jack Cooney trained me in the weight room.”

It added up to a player committed and looking forward to playing Division I baseball in Maine, 41/2 hours from home.

“For me it’s the atmosphere,” Menzel concluded. “College is different from high school. I like how close the players are at Maine. It’s going to be baseball 24-7, but I love it. I don’t want to do anything but baseball. I want to train every day. It’s exciting getting to play baseball every day.”

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