Ah, Martha’s Vineyard, an island located south of Cape Cod known for being an affluent summer colony with its ginger bread cottages and specialty shops that are only accessible by boat or airplane.
Ah, Martha’s Vineyard, a picturesque vacationland known for its sandy beaches, Cuttyhunk and Oak Bluffs, lighthouses and Flying Horses carousel, just to name a few iconic places.
Ah, Martha’s Vineyard, which has nicknames like “The Vineyard” and “The Rock,” where Johnston resident Nick Raposo has taken up summer residence – by invitation - with “wonderful people” named Mike and Jeanie Holenko.
Raposo, though, doesn’t have much time for sun and fun, as the old adage goes.
He is though, one of the fortunate few who were actually invited to play for the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, one of seven teams that currently make up the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
Founded in 2010, the Sharks – as the Vineyard club is appropriately nicknamed – are sporting a 29-13 record.
Raposo is one of three catchers on the 30-player roster which has players from all over the country who have been given an opportunity to enhance their skills in a wooden bat league that plays a Minor League-like schedule and attracts scouts from every Major League Baseball team throughout the season.
The 2017 Johnston High School graduate, who will enter his junior year at Wheaton College in September, is having his best season ever on the baseball field.
Raposo, who landed All-State and All-Division honors during his senior and junior seasons respectively on Cherry Hill where he played four seasons and twice was elected captain, concluded his sophomore season at Wheaton College being named to D3baseball.com’s All-New England First Team before being named All-American, earning a spot on the second team and later landing All-American honors.
The son of Mario and Melissa Raposo and brother of 2018-19 JHS Student Council President Emily Raposo, Nick was also named to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-American Second Team, the eighth Wheaton player to earn the distinction.
He ended the 2018 college baseball season ranked 10th in the nation in doubles with 18 while ranking 12th in doubles per game, 36th in hits (61), 47th in total bases (94) and 50th in batting (.424). His batting average moved the former Panther into the Wheaton record book, ranking him fifth in single season batting average while his 18 doubles tie him for fourth in a single season.
The All-Region honor is the second of the season for the hustling catcher, who was named to the ABCA/Rawlings All-Region First Team and the New England Position Player of the Year.
And, the honors keep piling up for Raposo who Sharks field manager Jay Mendez said the other night, “is a great kid and we are very lucky to have him on this team.”
Mendez, who serves as an assistant baseball coach at Suffolk University during the college spring season added, “Without knowing much about him coming into the summer season, I knew Nick was going to be a special player because we had three teams looking to trade players for him.”
The Sharks’ skipper said that Raposo, who is currently hitting .250 in his first-ever season swinging the wooden bat, “is usually the first one at the field either getting early batting practice or helping out with field maintenance.
Moreover, Mendez related, “His leadership on the field has guided our pitching staff to a 3.98 era – second best in the league – and that is why he was an All-Star.”
The former Panther was selected to play for the North squad in the Futures League annual All-Star Game that was played at 80-year-old refurbished Holman Stadium in Nashua, New Hampshire and was followed by a gala fireworks show.
Raposo was one of three catchers who played for the Newcombe squad, named in honor of legendary Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe, whose parent club played once had a Minor League team at Holman Stadium. That unit faced the Campanella club named in honor of the late Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella.
But in terms of gaining experience – and representing Wheaton College in one of the nation’s premier summer collegiate baseball leagues – people closely connected with the Sharks will tell that “Nick Raposo is batting 1.000. He’s a team player with no ego and has just one agenda to enhance his skills and get better and better in a game he’s loved and player for years.”
Players like Raposo – who compete in summer collegiate wooden bat baseball leagues across the country – first have to have talent but more importantly must be of good moral character, especially since then represent a college or university and live with host families who summer after summer open their homes to visiting players.
Sharks General Manager Russ Curran called Wheaton coaches to land Raposo, who has been “quite the catch” for the league-leading Martha’s Vineyard franchise. Teams also provide summer employment as well as putting on clinics for youth baseball players.
Unlike some Sharks, Raposo doesn’t have a summer job.
“This is the place to be in the summer,” he related Monday morning. “There’s lots of good baseball … lots of good fun … it’s also a great way to get ready for my junior season (at Wheaton College).”
It’s a junior season, baseball people will readily concur, that holds more promise for Nick Raposo, a hard-working backstop who swings a big bat and will probably be recruited by more teams like the Sharks next summer and possibly teams at even higher levels.
Cutlines for submitted pix
SUPER SHARKS: Johnston’s Nick Raposo is all smiles as he joins his summer baseball coach Jay Mendez at the recent Futures Collegiate Baseball league All-Star Game in Nashua, NH. Submitted photos
DIAMOND DUELER: Former Panther baseball standout Nick Raposo landed New England Position Player of the Year for his work as a catcher at Wheaton College his spring.
BOOMING BAT: JHS grad Nick Raposo ended the sprig college baseball season at Wheaton College with as .424 batting average that helped the son of Mario and Melissa Raposo land All-Region and All-American honors.
SPECIAL STAR: Johnston resident Nick Raposo ran his baseball stock to the highest ever during recent weeks when he landed a position in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game played on July 18 in Nashua, NH.