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Around the Horn: Cavs Love Jersey Native Thaiss

(Whitney Sports Photography)

(Whitney Sports Photography)

Greetings from Charlottesville, Virginia, where I recently paid a visit to Davenport Field, home of the 2015 NCAA baseball champions, the Virginia Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers hosted N.C State in an ACC three-game weekend set in their beautiful, state-of-the-art ballpark.

What a setting for college baseball with the Blue Ridge Mountains serving as a scenic backdrop just beyond the outfield fence – 6,000 fans, video board, sound system, luxury boxes and with enclosed Clubhouse seating for special parties just beyond the left-center field fence.

Even the food available in the main concourse – Chick-Fil-A, Domino’s Pizza, Ben & Jerry’s, Dippin’ Dots, Two Kings.

Better than most major league environments, particularly when you consider the very reasonable price of admission.

And the baseball was pretty good, too!

I had a chance to get a first-hand look at Virginia’s junior catcher Matt Thaiss (Jackson, N.J.).

Thaiss had a storied high school career where he played for Frank Malta at Jackson Memorial High School where he hit .343 with 17 homers and 70 RBI in his career.

Thais was selected by the Boston Red Sox in 32nd round of 2013 MLB Draft, but chose to defer a shot at Fenway Park in order to continue his baseball career in the highly-regarded Cavaliers baseball program.

And to most, the decision was a good one, as Thaiss has thrived in the ACC, one of the best baseball conferences in the country, under the tutelage of Cavalier skipper Brian O’Connor. Last year the Jackson, N.J. native had a breakout season as he played a major role in helping the Cavs win the national championship. Thaiss finished 14th in ACC in batting (.323) and fourth in RBI (60) while leading the team in slugging (.512) and OBP (.413). He was second on team with 82 hits.

He was named a Third-Team All-America catcher by Louisville Slugger, semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy (national POY) and named to Johnny Bench Award Watch List.

This year, Thaiss, who is a left-handed hitter, has taken his game to another level. He has a .360 BA, slugging .543 and an OBP of .453 through 32 games.

There is no question that Fenway Park is well within his reach!
For your eyes only
There was an interesting piece in Sports Illustrated (6/15/2015) about the benefits of nutrition to improved vision. According to recent research there is evidence linking visual processing and reaction time with the daily use of zeaxanthin.

It seems that all 30 major leagues teams have started experimenting with the supplement with mixed results.

In addition, the nutrient can also be found in other food sources such as kale, spinach, red bell peppers and egg yolks.

Load up guys – anything to help a hitter pick up the spin of the seams on a 94-plus MPH fastball.
Stay tuned for the next dietary recommendation!!!

Technology has arrived

Technology is coming to Major League Baseball this season. The Motus Baseball Sleeve which measures stress on the elbow and the Zephyr Bio-harness which monitors heart rate and breathing have been approved for use.

In addition, a pair of bat sensors has been approved for pregame use, one from Blast Motion and the other from Diamond Kinetics.

The sensors are designed to monitors a player’s habits, which could result in injuries – really now?

A final word

A tip-of-the-cap to George Washington University’s, Kevin Mahala, (Baskin Ridge, N.J./Seton Hall Prep).

The junior shortstop and finance major has a .308 BA in 29 games. The Colonels are 3-1 the Atlantic 10 conference.

Next week, with teams ramping up their conference schedules and the weather improving, I will catch up with some of the better teams and players.

You have a round bat and ball and they tell you to hit it square …
Follow Bob on Twitter for all the latest in college baseball happenings, game highlights, features, latest technology and more: @WhitneyBob

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Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
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