Eight players from the 2011 are returning to the team as it gets set for the 2012 season.
, , Adrian Martin, Jonathan Velasquez, Cole Kraft, Scott Clement, Will Hassett and are on the team’s spring training roster.
The Boulders say Mollica, a Suffern native, and Hutchins, a White Plains native, return as two keys from the heart of the batting order. Mollica, the team’s 2011 Most Valuable Player, appeared in 86 games while recording a .301 average with a team-high 10 homers, 52 RBI, and 42 runs scored.
As the senior member of the squad, Hutchins also had a strong season, batting .295 with seven round-trippers, 16 doubles and 37 runs in 62 games played.
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On the mound, Velasquez was team’s top starterlast year, and Martin was a top closer in the Can-Am League.
After a tough go in his first few outings, Velasquez emerged as one of the best pitchers in the league over July and August. Over a period of 12 consecutive starts, he posted a 7-2 record with a 2.13 ERA.
Martin, who has pitched as high as the AAA level, was relied on heavily in the closer role, and he did not disappoint. He not only led the Can-Am league in saves by a wide margin with 22, but he also contributed five wins from the bullpen. He was rewarded for his excellence by being the lone Boulder selected as a Can-Am League All-Star.
Kraft solidified the middle-infield a year ago and contributing a consistent .281 average at the plate. Clement was just establishing his presence in the lineup when a hand injury ended his season prematurely, but his strong arm behind the plate and .275 average are expected to be a welcome return, with the Boulders saying he is expected to be at 100 percent entering this season.
Hassett is expected to vie for a starting slot in 2012, as he finished with a 4-3 record in 10 starts after joining Rockland in mid-July.
While the big news of the 2011 season’s final weekend was the signing of Mets great Howard “HoJo” Johnson, it’s his son, , whose return is much anticipated by the team. Though he only appeared in the teams final four games, the younger Johnson made his impact felt with a home run in his first professional at-bat in a 6-5 win at Newark.
The players report for training camp on May 5th.
The Rockland Boulders begin the 2012 season on May 17 when they visit the defending CanAm League Champion Quebec Capitales.
Last season, nearly 125,000 fans attended the Boulders home games at Provident Bank Park in Pomona.