LYNN — Tim Fila first started the Lynn Invitational in 2005 in hopes of giving local players a platform to showcase their talents.
Now in it’s 14th running, this year’s Lynn Invitational begins Thursday at Fraser Field. Over 200 baseball players from across the country will take the diamond in hopes of garnering the attention of college coaches.
For Fila, an assistant baseball coach at St. Mary’s and former Spartan, that’s exactly what he hoped the invitational would become.
“It was something local for the kids that has turned into something more than local now,” Fila said. “We have kids coming in from Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, New York, Connecticut. We have a good group of college coaches coming. These kids all want to play college baseball. Hopefully this helps them.”
Fila relies on input from high school and summer coaches, and selects players for the invitational from there. He also relies on Malden baseball coach Steve Freker, who “has been a right-hand man. He’s been a huge help setting all of this up,” Fila said.
Fila enjoys giving local high school players an opportunity to perform in front of college coaches. English graduate Jomar Moreta participated in last year’s showcase, where he found New Mexico Junior College. Moreta earned a baseball scholarship from the Thunderbirds a few months later.
“There were many colleges there and it worked for Jomar,” Fila said. “Todd Tringale from Saugus connected with UMass Amherst. There are a lot of college programs that’ll be there.
“We have a good group from Beverly this year,” Fila said. “We have some kids from St. Mary’s. It varies from year to year. We have a lot of ‘Super 8’ teams that are sending players. We have Bobby Alcock and Keegan O’Connor, the Division 2 and 3 players of the year, who are both doing postgraduate years at Winchendon.”
The four-day tournament begins Thursday morning and runs through Sunday afternoon. Player workouts are scheduled for Saturday. The two “top prospect” games will be played Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“Saturday will be a professional style infield-outfield,” Fila said. “We’ll do the 60-yard dash and velocity readings. From those days we pick the kids who play in the games Sunday, which isn’t easy. We take a look at the numbers and then some of the kids get another chance to play Sunday.”
Over the years, Fila has seen plenty of the invational’s players continue their careers at high levels. Some of them have also gone on to play in the Major Leagues. That list includes Lynn English graduates Roberto Reyes and Ben Bowden, Lynn Classical’s Tyler Gauthier, Swampscott’s Ryan January, Peabody’s Patrick Ruotolo and Beverly’s Jack Leathersich. Matt Barnes of the Red Sox and St. John’s graduate Mike Yastrzemski of the San Francisco Giants also participated in the showcase.
“It’s great. A percentage of them keep going,” Fila said. “Ben Bowden is playing in Triple-A and he’s the name that comes to mind. We all knew Ben was going to be a great player. Mike Yazstrzemski is with the Giants. He played for coach Joe Iarrobino in Andover.
“Those guys were good players,” Fila said. “We knew Ben was going to be good. Mike was always good. They all developed through their hard work. They went to great college programs and they blossomed from there. There’s a lot of talent in these parts. We try to give these kids an opportunity to showcase in front of college coaches and hopefully it works out for them.”