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Braintree’s Melchionda taking his shot at pro ball with Cardinals

Anthony Melchionda of Braintree is headed to St. Louis’s Single-A team in western New York, the Batavia Muckdogs.

Boston College Athletics

Anthony Melchionda of Braintree is headed to St. Louis’s Single-A team in western New York, the Batavia Muckdogs.

Cardinals like skills of Braintree native

In the eyes of Mike Gambino , Anthony Melchionda is a coach’s dream. Aside from the raw talent that allows him to play four infield positions and bang out extra-base hits at the plate, Melchionda possesses a long list of intangibles.

“Any manager who gets the chance to coach him will just love Anthony,” said Gambino, Melchionda’s coach the past two seasons at Boston College.

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“Aside from his baseball skills, he’s like having another coach on the field,” said Gambino. “He works very well with the younger players.”

The world champion St. Louis Cardinals liked the Braintree native enough to select him in the 14th round (450th pick overall) of Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft last week. He was the first player from BC chosen.

A 6-foot, 195-pound infielder who bats and throws from the right side, Melchionda left for western New York Tuesday on his way to play for the Batavia Muckdogs, the Cardinals’ Class A affiliate in the short-season New York-Penn league.

“The whole thing has been pretty amazing,” said Melchionda, who expected to sign his contract when he arrived.

“I’ve received an overwhelming amount of support from my family and friends.”

University of Maine junior righthander Steve Perakslis (5-5, 3.81 earned average) of Abington, a 21st-round pick by the Cubs, has reported to Mesa, Ariz., after signing with Chicago. Mansfield’s Rhett Wiseman , a senior outfielder at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols in Cambridge who has committed to Vanderbilt, went to the Cubs in the 25th round, while another Vandy recruit, Bay State Carey MVP Pat Delano of Braintree was selected by the Red Sox in Round 35. The 6-foot-6 pitcher is two years removed from Tommy John surgery.

At Thayer Academy, Melchionda was the MVP of the Independent School League as a senior shortstop. At BC he saw limited action as a freshman, appearing in 21 games, but started all 58 games as a sophomore, mostly at third.

A senior captain, Melchionda switched back to shortstop from third base and was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference second-team selection and a New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association all-star.

Making 53 starts, he batted .310 and led the Eagles in runs scored (39) while finishing second in slugging percentage (.476), on-base percentage (.389), hits (65), RBIs (35), doubles (17), multiple-hit games (21), and home runs (six). His success against ACC pitching put him on the radar screen of a number of organizations.

“This is not a surprise to me or anybody else who has been around Anthony,” said Gambino. “He’s a really good defender at all four infield positions and he can legitimately play shortstop every day.

“Offensively, he’s been able to hit at every level. He’s got doubles power and he can control the bat, so if the skipper wants a hit-and-run or a bunt, Anthony can accomplish that. He gives the manager a ton of options offensively.”

The Cards were impressed with Melchionda’s ability to play multiple positions.

“They’ve mentioned that to me more than once,” he said. One of the reasons that they took me so high was because of my versatility. I’m prepared to play anywhere in the infield.”

Melchionda is also preparing to treat baseball as his job, as opposed to being a student-athlete while at BC.

“His initial challenge will be making the adjustment from college baseball to the professional level,” said Gambino, who worked in player development with the Red Sox after two years of minor league ball in the Boston organization.

“College ball can be a grind when it comes to managing your classes along with it, but this is a different grind. ”

Melchionda knows that he has to approach the game with a slightly different mindset.

“I think the level of competition I played against in the ACC set me up really well to play in the pros,” he said.

“The talent will be better, but some of the arms and talent I saw in college will match up at the single A or AA level. The biggest adjustment is just taking it day to day. In a 75-game season, I can’t worry about every single at-bat because there will be so many of them through the course of the season.’’

Scituate rugby team
notches 7-0 record

The Scituate Stormers, a club rugby team representing Scituate High, finished an undefeated season with a 43-7 victory over Needham in the Division 1-A New England Rugby Football Union state final on Saturday. The squad ended the season with a 7-0 record.

David Sylvester scored on two tries, while Chris Sylvester , Bobby Sincoski , Will Blakeman , Patrick Dixon , and Trevor Horgan had single tallies in the title match.

“It was a great season,” said coach Tucker Patterson . “The kids worked real hard, from the very beginning in April with three practices a week. This was a special group of kids that accomplished a lot.”

John R. Johnson can be reached at jjohnson49@comcast.net.
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