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Vito Friscia more than a power hitter for Valley Stream Central

Vito Friscia hitting home runs in Florida

Vito Friscia hitting home runs in Florida Photo Credit: Lynn Griffin Power Showcase / Lynn Griffin Power Showcase

Vito Friscia stood at home plate, eyes transfixed on the flight of his mammoth blast.

The ball climbed toward the second deck of Miami's Marlins Park and disappeared.It exited the stadium so quickly that even an inspection of the video couldn't determine whether it touched anything on the way out.

Then came the announcement: 471 feet. Even Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton would've been proud to take ownership.

"I had to watch that one," the Valley Stream Central senior said, laughing. "That was the furthest ball I've hit in my life. It went over the Budweiser sign and no one saw it bounce as it left the stadium."

Friscia participated in last week's International Power Showcase, a home run derby and skills competition, hoping to raise money for the American Kidney Fund and to demonstrate his raw power to major league scouts.

He won his division championship, beating Florida's Danny Reyes, 9-6. Eight of his nine homers went more than 400 feet.

Friscia said his home runs at the event helped him raise just over $1,000 for the American Kidney Fund in the name of his friend Daniel Vecchione, 6, of Valley Stream, who he said has had liver and kidney transplants.

"The home run derby was designed to allow athletes to use their talents to raise money for causes important to them," Friscia said. "Daniel is very important to me and I like to make him smile. I promised him I'd give him the first home run ball. His strength and courage in his battle has definitely motivated me."

Back in New York, somewhat reminiscent of the Babe Ruth legend, Vecchione watched his friend from a bed in New York Presbyterian Hospital as the event was streamed online.

"My son . . . told the nurses, 'Vito plays for me,' and it made him so happy," said Daniel's mother, Stacey.

Friscia said he met Daniel a year ago when Friscia's mother, a teacher at Shaw Avenue Elementary School, had him in her kindergarten class. The two discussed baseball and became fast friends.

Vecchione was diagnosed as a 11/2-year-old with congenital hepatic fibrosis, a disease that affects the hepatobiliary (liver, gall bladder and bile ducts) and renal systems, his mother said.

Stacey Vecchione said Daniel is scheduled to undergo bladder surgery on Tuesday. His attitude is positive, though, thanks to Friscia.

"He's in good spirits," Stacey Vecchione said, "and Vito's been great to him."

"He's an awesome little kid," Friscia said. "He needs a break."

The power exploits of the 6-3, 225-pound Friscia has drawn the attention of major league scouts, he said. "I spoke to the Mets, Padres and Diamondbacks," Friscia said. "There's been a lot of interest."

The Hofstra-bound catcher saw a meteoric rise in his June draft status from possible draft pick to a potential selection in the top 10 rounds.

"He has pure power," said Sal Agostinelli, the Latin American scouting director for the Phillies. "He's a natural hitter and on our radar."

Friscia has hit 15 home runs in three years of high school ball.

"He has very specific goals and is so passionate about the game," Valley Stream Central coach Frank Alesia said. "He is blessed with major- league power, a love for the game and a work ethic second to none. This is someone very special. He always puts on a show in batting practice. Even I like to take a second and watch the distance on his home runs -- they're prolific."

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