There’s no place like home.
Former Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year Ben Casparius can tell you himself.
“I have a really have a good support group at home,” the two-way player from Westport, Connecticut said. “I’m given the best situation to succeed there, so I’m lucky.”
With both a strong arm and a sweet swing that can poke the ball into the opposite field or clobber a home run, Casparius has been blessed with incredible athletic ability his entire life.
And his father, Phil, can testify for it.
“My wife used to get really nervous because when Ben was around five or six years old, I would take him over the little league field around our house and I would hit him fly balls and he could catch them,” Phil Casparius said. “He just had that ability at that early age to just sort of be able to do it.”
When you look around the diamond, Ben Casparius’ stature stands out. The natural shortstop who can play any position towers over the infield at six-foot-one weighing 220 pounds. A commanding presence on the field with the biggest smile off it.
Even when he was young, Casparius was one of the largest guys at the park.
“He was a big, strong, fast kid at an early age,” his father said. “Ben’s the kind of kid that always wants to be challenged. He typical played up and was the youngest kid on the teams that he played on.”
Ben always realized the talent was there, but he truly saw the potential of a future big league career just before senior year of high school.
“I went down to Area Code and East Coast Pro [two of the top high school baseball showcases in the country] when everybody was considered the top prospects in my class in high school and had a pretty successful two weeks,” Ben Casparius said. “From then on, and with all the workouts I went to, I knew it was definitely a possibility and college was one step into pursuing my dreams.”
Following the showcases, the awards and honors came flying in for Casparius. There are too many to list, but here are a couple: Number one overall player in the state of Connecticut and number 22 shortstop in the country by Perfect Game, 2017 Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year and USA Today Connecticut Player of the Year just to name a few.
The talent was there, the question was where to next and the Casparius family decided Ben should attend the University of North Carolina and become a Tar Heel.
“It was absolutely everything I could ask for,” the rising junior said. “I fell in love with the campus. I had a really good relationship with the coaches going into school and the competition is awesome.”
The Ben Casparius who tantalized the ball in Connecticut continued that trend at UNC. In his freshman year, he batted .316 with 15 RBIs. On the hill, Casparius held a 1.69 ERA in 10 appearances. To add to his awesome stat line, he went two-for-five with three RBIs against Oregon State in game one of the College World Series.
A pretty impressive season on both ends for a natural position player.
“He really is a position guy first and foremost,” Phil Casparius said. “People love the fact that he throws hard and has good off-speed stuff. But one of the things that has always been his calling card is that he is a baseball player. It is unique for guys to be that versatile and be both a pitcher and a position player.”
But in his sophomore season, the talent pool at North Carolina increased and it became difficult for Casparius to hit the field.
“You’re never going be fully satisfied with everything and opportunities might be limited,” the right-hander said. “I just felt it was time to come a little bit closer to home and just get a restart.”
So, he did exactly that. Casparius decided to head home and transfer to the University of Connecticut.
“UCONN is really everything that we could ask for as a family along with the great coaches,” Ben Casparius said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Before he joins the perennial postseason Huskies, Casparius finally gets to do something he and his father have been talking about since he was little: playing in the Cape Cod Baseball league.
“My dad’s from Maine, so he’s a huge New England sports fan,” Ben Casparius said. “So it really helped because we always talked about playing in the Cape, especially when I was younger. Just being here, I’m just trying to soak it all up for as long as I’m here.”
Manager Jeff Trundy sees Casparius’ spark on the field, whether he’s on the mound or in the box.
“He is a versatile kid and that makes him valuable,” Trundy said. “Anytime you get a flexible kid, like Ben, he gives you flexibility in your lineup. But any kind of kid that can give you that flexibility is very, very valuable.”
While his parents are glad to have him back home, at the end of the day, they are just happy to see him on the field playing his game.
“As a dad, there’s always a certain level of nervousness because you want your kid to do well and you want the team to succeed,” Phil Casparius said. “But no matter what, I am proud of him.”
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Maxwell Trink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @MaxwellTrink.