This morning, with Stony Brook’s 91st baseball season on the horizon, Axcess Baseball profiled a Bears team that looks to build on a memorable run in 2022 and perhaps achieve something they’ve never done before.
Young, Loaded Stony Brook Prep Team Ready to Take Major Leap
by Andy Smith
After beginning the 2022 season 1-12, Stony Brook School was struggling to find their way. With a young team, and a first-year head coach, the growing pains were there.
At the midpoint of the season, the culture change finally began to take shape. The young team came together and won 14 out of their last 16, including defeating Vanderbilt-commit Thomas White, 2-0, with Johan Franco firing a complete game 3-hit shutout.
Following this amazing stretch, the Bears punched their ticket to the NYSAIS Tournament and then earned their spot in the state championship. Stony Brook fell to Poly Prep in the title match, 6-2, but they had come so far and worked so hard. Now, The Stony Brook School is ready to finish the job and reach their goal of hoisting the trophy.
Skipper Jon Brewer credits his previous experience as crucial to the success he hopes to achieve. “I worked for the National travel program down south with Team Elite. Through Team Elite, I had made several connections with SBS, so it was a natural fit for both my family and SBS.”
Brewer, a former collegiate athlete, suffered some bad luck with injuries such as a torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus, which prevented him from returning to the field. His team has epitomized him in dealing with setbacks and continuing to work hard and move forward.
Due to being a young team, Stony Brook School only graduated two seniors, which means a large group of players with learned experience takes the field in 2023.
The returning core features many college commits that are hungry for a championship. The top shortstop in the Class of 2025, Jayden Stroman (Duke commit) is poised for a big season. UConn-commit Logan Charboneau hit over .300 last season and will be a potent bat in the Bears lineup. Leading the team in both average and ERA last season is senior Johan Franco, who is committed to Georgetown University.
The catching position is another positive strength for Stony Brook. The Bears return their everyday catcher last season, sophomore Devon McMorris. They also are welcoming the top-ranked catcher in the Class of 2028, seventh grader Julian Martinez.
In addition to adding Martinez, The Stony Brook School brought in Wake Forest commit Jordan Serrano. The current sophomore is “an electric player, 93 from the mound, and one of the best prep bats I have ever coached.”
Another position of great depth is the rotation. Franco will lead the Bears again this season and will serve as the ace. Franco will be accompanied by a “solid number 2” in Chris Nell. The junior is sitting at 87 mph with his heater and has a strong arsenal of offspeed pitches to keep batters guessing.
Sophomore Nick Parker is returning from labrum surgery and has been increasing his velocity during the offseason. Parker is trending up and brings a “plus plus” changeup to the rotation. Another sophomore, Jacob Lippe, has made major strides during the offseason. Lippe went from throwing 74 mph to now hitting 82 mph. These major strides showcase the necessary personal development that Coach Brewer has emphasized to his players.
The Bears also have strong options to call from the bullpen, especially with their one-two setup and closer punch with Serrano and Stroman. Both can hit 90 on the gun and will serve as great options late in the game.
This team is built to compete now and has the youth to potentially win more than one title. Brewer added, “Last year, we were not deep, so we were an injury away from disaster all season. That is not the case this season. Our numbers have grown from 18 in the program to 30.”
Eighth grader Mateo Lopez and freshman Aiden Ruiz are two names to keep an eye on. Brewer highlighted that the two have “done nothing but deliver every single time I have placed pressure on them.”
“Every single day is a position battle. I have high expectations for our boys, in the classroom, in the weight room, and on the baseball field,” Brewer explained in relation to the competitive nature of his team. “I have done this long enough to know there will be a surprise or two pop up that I was not counting on.”
Brewer highlighted third base and how many of his players are vying for that position. “Mateo Lopez is vying for playing time. He can really swing it. In addition, sophomore Aaron Diaz has come into our program and done every single thing I have asked of him, and it is beginning to reveal itself. Johan Franco is expected to play some when he is not pitching.”
The Stony Brook School will not be in a league this season. Brewer explained, “With all due respect, we feel like it is a little dangerous to play other teams in our league on a day-to-day basis. It is also not good for our development.”
Instead, Brewer believes by challenging his players in other areas outside of league competition, they will develop even more and become better players on and off the field. “Development is a big part of what we want in our program, so I want to challenge our kids with a schedule. We play a great coach and team in Collegiate this season, Phillips Academy, Deerfield, Winchendon, Brunswick, among many others. We should have a lot of scouts at our games for these contests. If we can compile some meaningful wins, we fully expect to earn an at-large bid again this year in the NYSAIS postseason tourney.”
The Bears take the diamond March 1st against Hart County and Social Circle in Georgia. They play their first game in New York on March 18th against LuHi.