By NCSN's Bob LaRue and Francesco
CANTON – The transition to a new sport is never easy in youth sports development, especially when breaking in during the high school years. For a high school athlete entering a new sport in his sophomore year, then being called up halfway through the same season to the varsity level, is nothing short of remarkable. However, SUNY Canton’s Seth Douglas made that transition with remarkable success, due to natural ability, a quick bat and a strong work ethic. Since reaching the college level, he has found himself in the midst of one of the most dominant careers ever in SUNY Canton athletics. Already, he holds the school’s career and single-season records, crushing eleven home runs in his first eighty games at Canton. Douglas has gained the attention of several major league teams and scouts within the first five years of playing the sport.
Beginning – Motorcycle Racing to Baseball
Seth’s journey was not always one of immediate success on the base paths. For several years, he focused his time and energy on a totally different sport. “I used to race motorcycles for about six or seven years, and that just got too expensive so my parents and I decided to choose a sport that was a little cheaper and closer to home. So I chose football and baseball,” said Douglas. That change in passions eventually led him to baseball.
His talent indicated strong potential, but his lack of familiarity with the game made the transition seemingly more demanding. Douglas remembered, “It was hard for me to come in, not playing before and not fully understanding the game of baseball. It was small stuff like not knowing to hit the cutoff or hitting to the right side in certain situations that I didn’t quite grasp right away until later on. It was a matter of processing it over and over again, making sure that I had it down...trying to get better and better.”
Douglas’ varsity coach in Reedsburg noticed the potential and work ethic instilled within his young outfielder. “The varsity coach noticed my playing abilities and how I played and he brought me up to varsity halfway through my sophomore year.” From there, Douglas continued to work in the off-seasons and throughout the summer with his father and trainers in the weight room, cages and on the field. By his senior season, Douglas’ stellar performance had earned All-Region and All-State recognition in Wisconsin.
His collegiate career began with a minuscule role at Division II powerhouse Bemidji State in Minnesota, before venturing eastward for a better playing opportunity.
As he searched, Douglas used basic gauges that many athletes take into consideration, such as coaching philosophies, win-loss record and whether he would have an opportunity to play regularly in his first season. However, he had an additional influence. “My girlfriend and I were both looking for a school where we both could play our sports. She got recruited to play hockey (at SUNY Canton), and that’s when I started to contact the coaches. My girlfriend ended up coming here, so I pursued coming here as well.” SUNY Canton head coach Joe Carbone admits that he was a little surprised when he was first contacted by Douglas. “With Seth, the green flag was obviously his playing ability. When he sent his email, his video was off the charts.” And many ways, his unconventional path demonstrated a strong desire and willingness to work in pursuing his baseball mission.
Developing Raw Talent to the College Level
Seth Douglas’ list of successes for such a short period of time has garnered the attention of several major league teams, because of his bat speed, quickness, arm strength and ability to make consistent ball contact. SUNY Canton’s baseball coaches were the source of knowledge Douglas needed and the college has provided the opportunities to help him achieve his goals. But the right-hander says it was a struggle trying to perfect every aspect of his game. “I wanted to do everything how my coaches taught and, mechanics-wise, just wanted to do everything perfectly.” Douglas added, “Coach Rivera and I immediately worked together on my hitting, because I think he saw how fast I was able to change my swing to what he wanted for the college level.” However, Coach Carbone says a lot of Douglas’ success “is God-given natural ability and dedication, along with his hard work. There isn’t a day where I come in here and he’s not in the weight room or hitting in the cages.” While Douglas was a raw talent upon first arriving at SUNY Canton, Carbone says, “He was very coachable, but he also coached himself. He can watch an at-bat, see what he did wrong and correct it. Seth’s strengths are a combination of natural abilities, hand-eye coordination and ability to make in-game adjustments to the pitchers.”
Seth’s Playing Strengths
When Seth is at the plate, you can hear the difference when he makes contact. “Probably half of his home runs he didn’t hit 100 percent. When he makes contact, it sounds like an AR-15. When he squares the ball up, it sounds like a shotgun. That’s what I saw in the video in his first email.” Besides the incredible pop that comes along with his swing, Douglas throws the ball 90 mph from the infield. “He’s also quick, he’s got quick hands. He’s a five-tool player who hasn’t reached his potential yet. Every time I watch him, he gets better right in front of my eyes. He runs a 6.7-6.8 (in a 60-yard dash), he has a ‘plus arm’ and plays ‘plus defense.’ He hits the ball for power, he hits for average has that much instinct that he has developed.”
Another aspect of Douglas’ game is his ability to adjust and be flexible. Seth recalls when his role changed defensively in a transition from the outfield to first base. “We played in Myrtle Beach on our way back from Florida, and Coach asked me, ‘First base… You ever play it?’ I told him that I hadn’t. He said, ‘Alright well give you a starting chance there.’ It was definitely new and a struggle at first. But I’m glad I had a teammate, Chris Roenbeck, who helped me out a lot, especially for my first couple of starts.” Since then, Carbone says, “Even though he’s been playing a new position at first base, where he’s been for a year and a half, he’s turned himself into an asset defensively.”
Quiet, Unassuming Work Ethic, Team Loyalty
SUNY Canton’s coach says perhaps what has attracted several Major League Baseball teams is Douglas’ approach and personality. “Seth is probably one of the best human beings that I’ve ever been around and coached. He’s totally authentic. He works with players on the team that are newer to the roster. He has no ego. He’s always the first one at practice and the last to leave. He’s totally dedicated to making himself the best he can be. In addition, he’s very loyal to the program. Especially since he has had other opportunities after his “monster” first year with us, but he decided to come back.”
Seth had a stellar first season with the SUNY Canton program, despite what he thought was a sluggish start. “I was thinking that if I don’t start well and I don’t play to my potential, then other people would get the starting chance over me. First game came and I struggled, but Coach gave me a second chance. I went on a hot streak and we played well in the playoffs.”
His strong first season at SUNY Canton would have been difficult to duplicate, but Seth was able to build upon that success with even greater production in his second season. Douglas hit .383 with a .636 slugging percentage. He launched eight home runs with 59 hits, collected 51 RBIs and scored 30 runs in just 39 regular-season games. Seth was named a Division III National Player of the Week, Empire 8 Player of the Week, Empire 8 First Team, USCAA All-American, First Team All Conference and several other awards. Coach Carbone and the Roos’ coaching staff agree that Seth is a role model to his teammates and the SUNY Canton community. “He doesn’t fall under the distractions of college,” Carbone said. “He’s a good student-athlete. If you were to ever recruit a player to be a student-athlete, a model student-athlete, it would be Seth Douglas.”
Christian Nazario-Cruz (Naguabo, Puerto Rico) and
Jeremy Baez (Bronx, NY) posted three hits each as the
SUNY Canton baseball team closed out the Empire 8 Tournament
with a fourth place finish after dropping a 9-4 decision to
St. John Fisher College in the consolation game on Saturday.
The Roos (14-30) were extremely competitive finishing with
13 hits on the day compared to 14 for the Cardinals but five
errors defensively hurt SUNY Canton. Fisher
jumped out to a quick start plating five runs in the opening
inning and added one in the second to lead 6-0 early. The
Cardinals (25-18) extended their lead to 7-0 in the top of
the fifth. SUNY Canton got on the board in the
Seth Douglas (Reedsburg, WI) used an RBI single to
center field to score
Travis Schindler (West Islip, NY). Schindler used a 2
RBI base hit in the sixth to score
Brandon Welch (Constable, NY) and Baez. The Roos rounded
out their scoring when Welch brought home Nazario-Cruz on an
RBI single. Senior
Dom Deliberti (Staten Island, NY) got the start in his
final collegiate game giving up five runs in one inning,
although just a single run was earned.
Derek Harkin (Ottawa, ON) tossed five innings in relief
surrendering just four hits and two earned runs.
Zach Lawrence (West Palm Beach, FL) closed out the final
three innings of the game giving up one earned on five hits.
This closes out the 2015 season for the baseball team. The
Roos finish the inaugural Empire 8 Tournament in fourth
place after coming into the week as the seven seed.
May 8: Senior John Mancini (Scotia, NY) pitched a gem of a game giving up just three hits in a complete game shutout as the SUNY Canton baseball team earned a 6-0 victory against Houghton College on Friday in the Empire 8 Tournament hosted by Utica College. Mancini had a remarkable outing on the mound striking out 11 batters while walking just three in nine innings of work. The Scotia, NY native got off to a quick start as he fanned nine batters and giving up just two hits in the first five innings of work. The Roos (14-29) gave Mancini plenty of run support as Chris Roenbeck (Plattsburgh, NY) ripped a two run homer to right center field in the second to plate Brandon Welch (Constable, NY). Welch scored Jeremy Baez (Bronx, NY) on an RBI single to right in the third inning to extend the lead to 3-0. SUNY Canton added two more in the fifth. Seth Douglas (Reedsburg, WI) legged out a one out infield tingle and stole second. After Baez got hit by a pitch both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Nicolas Demarais (Plattsburgh, NY) showed patience drawing a walk to load the bases. The Highlanders issued another walk, this one to Welch, to bring Douglas across. Roenbeck then reached on an error to score Baez. The Roos added one more run in the seventh. Baez reached on a one out double to left center and with two down in the inning Welch drove him home on his third RBI of the game on a base hit to right. Welch led SUNY Canton with two hits while driving in three runs. Roenbeck finished with 2 RBI as SUNY Canton was helped out by five Houghton fielding errors. Jesse Barton (Belle Glade, FL) also doubled for the Roos.