LYNN — As the Futures Collegiate Baseball League regular season winds down, North Shore Navigators catcher John Prentice likes the progress he has made throughout the summer.
Prentice, who’s also a relief pitcher, feels he has improved on all three phases of his game while learning from both his coaches and teammates.
“I think things are going awesome this season,” Prentice said. “What I’ve learned from the coaches is incredible. (Manager) Todd (Alford) and (assistant coach) Jesse (Amaya) have both helped my game a lot. When it comes to catching, pitching, swinging, there’s always answers no matter what I ask. We have a lot of great players on this team. I’ve learned a lot from my teammates this summer.’
A graduate of Lynn Classical in 2017, Prentice played three years of varsity baseball as a catcher/pitcher at Saugus High. He spent the past spring as a freshman on the baseball team at Division III New England College.
With three years of college baseball remaining ahead of him, Prentice acknowledged that he has plenty to learn and improve on in his craft. That’s what makes his experiences with the Navigators this past summer so important.
“I’m going to take everything I’ve learned from being on this team,” Prentice said. “Everything I’ve learned, I’m going to without a doubt implicate going forward for my next three years of college baseball.”
In 18 games this summer, Prentice rank fourth in team batting average with a .279 mark. Prentice has eight RBI, eight runs scored and 12 hits. On the mound, the right-hander was scoreless through his first three appearances before a tough outing in Friday’s game against the Pittsfield Suns.
“Playing against Division I and Division II players, at the Division III level we throw low 80’s fastballs,” Prentice, 20 years old, said. “In this league you see elite pitchers who bring their fastballs up to the high 80’s, low 90’s. They have sliders, change-ups, curveballs. It’s awesome to see the talent in this league and I think it’s really going to develop my game.
“Being a two-way guy, I thankfully have the opportunity to work with Division I and Division II pitchers,” Prentice added. “Whether it’s mechanics, grips, I have the time to learn from pitchers on our team. Being able to work with such a great pitching staff means I get my work in as a catcher. They get their work in and I get my work in.”
Growing up in Saugus, Prentice recalls attending North Shore Spirit games at Fraser Field during his youth.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” Prentice said. “I grew up going to Spirit games before they joined the FCBL. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I have here. I think it’s amazing to represent some part of the local community.”
With one week left in the regular season, it’s fair to say that it’s crunch time for North Shore. The Navigators are in the middle of a cat-and-mouse chase for the sixth and final spot in the FCBL playoffs.
North Shore, 17-29, is a half game ahead of the Nashua Silver Knight for the final league playoff spot. The Navigators are two games behind Pittsfield for fifth place in the league standings. North Shore’s 3-7 in its last 10 games.
“I think we started pretty slow but we’ve come together as a team,” Prentice said. “We’ve really stepped it up. We’ve picked up a lot of new guys who’ve helped us. It’s awesome here. We started not so good but no we’re competing for a playoff spot.
“Each and every one of us is ready to go out and compete,” Prentice added. “We can beat any team in the league. It’s a matter of each and every one of us going out there and competing, having fun. We certainly have the talent.”
Prentice added that none of the team’s success this season would be possible without members of the Navigators community who contribute behind the scenes.
“Everyone, the locals, the staff, everyone who feeds us and provides all the meals,” Prentice said. “It’s awesome what they do fus us. It’s pretty cool.”
North Shore hosts the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks for a doubleheader Saturday (4/7) at Fraser Field. The Navigators are off Monday before visiting Martha’s Vineyard for another twin-bill Tuesday (12/3).