A lefty arm with pop

It’s no secret that the Manhattan Jaspers have been in a rebuild mode over the past two seasons.  The time has come once again for them to be a MAAC championship contender since their 2011 and 2012 back-to-back title wins.

Why now all of a sudden? Good, talented pitching…lots of it too.

Last year, Joey Rocchietti was the Jasper who stood out on and off the field. It took two months into the season to figure that out how good Rocchietti was going to be. Already in the late off-season of 2015 someone has impressed: Tom Cosgrove – another pitcher but this is where Manhattan’s future lies.

In the 2014 college baseball draft class, Cosgrove was Manhattan’s top recruit based on his physical ability, electric fastball and competitiveness, but there’s something else he possesses that makes him special at 18 years old.

“When you get to meet him that’s when he really became our top recruit,” Manhattan head coach Jim Duffy said. “He’s mature beyond his years, especially on the field. I don’t think I’ve ever had to tell him, since we’ve stepped on the field together, to pick it up or to do more. If anything the biggest challenge as a coach with guys like Tommy [Cosgrove] is sometimes you have to ask them to face themselves, to dial it back a little because he works so hard and does so much physically between his throwing days.”

“I’m more impressed with those intangible things then I am his actual physical pitching,” he added. “I say that as a compliment because he certainly is a hell of a pitcher and he’s going to get better.”

Duffy also said his make-up, drive, determination and work ethic is what’s going to help him go forward and separate himself from the average pitcher in the league because that’s what got him this opportunity.

At Monsignor Farrell High School, he dominated opposing batters with primarily his fastball that his head coach at Farrell, Bob Mulligan, said he threw 75-80 percent of the time, clocking in at 90 mph Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove experienced how he must adjust as a pitcher when he logged in two-innings of work during an outside competition game against the Columbia Lions – which won the Ivy League Championship the last two years. He had a two-strike count on a batter and threw his fastball. In high school he would have gotten away with such a pitch selection, but when up against Division I hitters not so much. His pitch was hit right back at him and through his legs for a base hit.

When he headed off the field afterwards, Duffy prepared to use this situation as a teaching moment and tell Cosgrove, “You know what? See there you can’t just go to your fastball.” Cosgrove instead came over to Duffy in the dugout and told him, “There it was coach. I thought I could just reach back.”

“We saw last year, as a senior, that generally speaking he had his good stuff and occasionally he had lights out stuff,” Mulligan said. “There was one game he struck out 14 batters in a row. It was mind-boggling. We had never seen that before. Total domination. Really that was just with a very good fastball.”

“He certainly is a fierce competitor. One of the finest competitors we’ve seen at our school,” he added. “Almost to a fault. Sometimes he’s very hard on himself, and through a little more maturity he’ll overcome that. But when he’s on the mound he brings great focus, competitiveness.”

Learning from situations, as in his short appearance against Columbia, was a main reason why he decided on becoming a Jasper. He loves how much Duffy and former Jasper pitching coach Elvys Quezada and new pitching coach Justin Echevarria know about pitching. They create an atmosphere he compared to his high school.

“Manhattan had a different feel than all the other schools that I was looking into,” Cosgrove said. “It was more of a homey feel, I guess, so it reminded me of my high school.”

Right now, it’s too early to tell whether Cosgrove turns into a starting or relief pitcher, but Duffy and Mulligan predict he can a make major impact in the long run. In his first year, with the type of fastball he possesses, coming out of the bullpen may be the best and most effective role for him. Once his stamina is up, he projects to be a really good starter.

“For him, I hope he doesn’t get too caught up in with the whole starting versus relieving,” Mulligan said, “because for the most part he has been a starter his whole career. He would most likely prefer to do that. His main objective would be he just wants to pitch. Given the opportunity to pitch whether it’s middle, short-relief, starter. He should welcome that and do the very best he can.”

“The sky is the limit for him. He really has a great deal of ability,” he added. “He’s the complete package.”