Long Island baseball's top 25 catchers for 2013

Widely considered the top catcher in the region,

Widely considered the top catcher in the region, Chris Russo batted .362 and has committed to Iona. (Credit: James Escher)

The catcher has the toughest job in baseball. They are the field generals, the guys who can see the entire play develop in front of them. A sturdy catcher can carry a team to a championship. He has to be strong-willed, physically strong, and mentally prepared for every situation. Catchers are leaders and counted on to handle all types of pitchers. Without them, a team cannot win.

Here's a look at Long Island's top 25 catchers for 2013 after surveying area scouts, high school and college coaches.

25. STEVE CONNELLY, Island Trees, Sr.: One of the key hitters in a talented Bulldogs lineup. He hit .335 with 20 RBIs.

24. NICK GARLAND, Massapequa, Jr.: According to former major leaguer Frank Catalanotto, this is a catcher with one of the best swings on Long Island. He has quick hands, a good level path to the ball and really gets a lot of torque out of his lower half. Catching-wise, he is quick behind the plate with excellent receiving skills.

23. TIM GORTON, Smithtown Christian, Jr.: Two-time All-League batted over .400 and lead League VIII with 32 RBIs.

22. KEN JOHNTRY, Longwood, Jr.: He has excellent blocking and receiving skills. He's also a solid hitter who can drive the ball the other way.

21. NICK DUARTE, Port Washington, Sr.: The 6-2, 200-pound catcher hit .314 with 14 RBIs with a .455 OBP for the Vikings. He is committed to Siena.

20. TYLER THEISS, Deer Park, Jr.: He batted .375 with 16 doubles and 18 RBIs for the Falcons. He is a highly regarded prospect with excellent defensive skills.

19. MITCH CALANDRA, Floral Park, Soph.: Two-year starter who threw out 17 base stealers as a freshman. He hit .333 with three home runs and continues to impress.

18. RYAN DILLON, Patchogue-Medford, Sr.: He continues to improve each year. He has a very strong arm. He is committed to Molloy.

17. CHRIS TRACZ, Plainview JFK, Jr.: Batted .353 and threw out 75 percent of base stealers. All-Conference player, highly recruited by D-I schools.

16. BILLY MCLEAN, Wheatley, Jr.: He was All-Nassau and batted .510 with 22 RBIs and four home runs. He's an excellent prospect who can play any position well.

15. LUKE LEONARDI, Sachem North, Sr.: The All-League selection hit .345 with five doubles. His strength is behind the plate as a receiver.

14. ROB KOLLMER, MacArthur, Sr.: He is very athletic and a varsity starter since his sophomore year. He's a contact hitter and uses all fields. He is committed to Hofstra.

13. ROB VANI, Chaminade, Sr.: The Flyers' cleanup hitter is 6-2, 180 pounds and one of the most underrated players on the Island. He has excellent power to all fields, and is a very tough out.

12. AUSTIN ADAMO, Hauppauge, Sr.: He can swing it and is a solid backstop with a strong arm. This is his year to shine. He is committed to Flagler College.

11. VITO FRISCIA, Valley Stream Central, Sr.: He moved behind the dish and is touted as a candidate to win the Diamond Award, given to Nassau's top player. He batted .360.

10. BILLY REIDEL, Glenn, Sr.: Two-time All-League, three-year varsity starter. At 6-3, 210 pounds, he's an imposing batter and a definite on-field leader. He is committed to Oneonta.

9. ROB FIATO, Huntington, Sr.: He batted .410 last season with 17 RBIs and is one of the clutch hitters for the Blue Devils. He is committed to NYIT.

8. RILEY SHEA, Comsewogue, Sr.: A 6-1, 185-pounder with all the tools. He has become a better receiver with a strong arm. He is committed to Rhode Island.

7. NICK OSBURN, East Islip, Sr.: All-Suffolk selection who hit .405 with 22 RBIs. He comes back from a football injury and is the key player for the Redmen to return to the Class AA title game.

6. BRIAN LAU, Oceanside, Sr.: He is an outstanding defensive player, very hard to run on. He batted .270 with two home runs and 16 RBIs.

5. KYLE FAGAN, Wantagh, Sr.: He has a sub-2.0 pop time and is a complete shutdown defensive catcher. He hit .425 for the Warriors. He is committed to LIU Post.

4. NICK FANNERON, Massapequa, Sr.: The All-Nassau selection hits with power to all fields and is a Diamond Award candidate. He has improved defensively. He is committed to Northeastern.

3. MARK DONADIO, Mt. Sinai, Sr.: Line drive gap-to-gap hitter who is very athletic and can play multiple positions. He is committed to Fordham.

2. CHRIS GAFFNEY, St. John the Baptist, Sr.: His return from a broken hand will have an immediate impact on the Cougars' title hopes. Gaffney is a super defensive catcher who was second in the CHSAA in RBIs as a sophomore. He is highly regarded as the best hitting catcher in the region. He is committed to UNC-Wilmington.

1. CHRIS RUSSO, Floyd, Sr.: He has a 1.87 pop time. He is widely considered the best defensive catching prospect in the region. He hit .362 last season and has a rifle for an arm. He is committed to Iona.

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