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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, May 30, 2013 9 years ago

MLB prospects return to the ballfield

Wood bats heat up
by: Isaac Babcock Managing Editor

It’s the 10th season for the Florida Collegiate Summer League, and for the first time the league that’s sent nearly 200 players to the major league draft will have a team in College Park. The Winter Park Diamond Dawgs are looking to build on a big season last year, and Sanford, after a disappointing 2012, is looking for a comeback. With draft-level talent on every roster, this is as close as Orlando gets to the big leagues, and it goes all summer long.

The name College Park Freedom may sound familiar, but not quite. They used to play a bit down the road in Orlando. This year they made the move to Bishop Moore High School in College Park for their home field, bringing coach Scotty Makarewicz with them.

The Freedom franchise will take the field for the third season this summer. They’ve struggled in their young history, coming in second to last in the league in 2011, and last in 2012 with a 10-29 record in the regular season.

They’ll be looking to jump start their season against an FCSL juggernaut in the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs, one of two teams (the other being the Sanford River Rats) from the league’s inaugural season that’s still around today. Last season the Dawgs went 25-15, missing out on the regular season title by just half a game to the Leesburg Lightning.

The teams will play back-to-back games to start the season, with the Freedom’s home opener at 7 p.m. June 5 at College Park, and then at 7 p.m. June 6 at Winter Park’s Alfond Stadium.

The River Rats struggled all season in 2012, flirting with the league basement and finishing with a 17-23 record, near a low point in the franchise’s 10-year history. They played the Dawgs at press time Wednesday, but things will really get going as they face perennial contenders the DeLand Suns at 7 p.m. June 4 at Sanford Memorial Stadium. At 7 p.m. June 5 they’ll switch stadiums, with the Rats visiting the Suns in DeLand. The chase goes all the way to August, then it’s playoff time on the diamond.

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