5-tool star Casparius UNC bound
Updated 6:19 am, Monday, August 10, 2015
Hitting for average. Hitting for power. Speed. Throwing. Fielding.
The five tools of baseball are pillars of evaluation, and a player that can do all at a high level is rare. A 5-tool player is coveted by coaches and scouts at any level.
Enter Ben Casparius. The rising junior at Staples recently committed to the University of North Carolina due his ability to do everything at a high level. An imperative cog of the Wreckers machine that’s gone 39-11 over the past two seasons, Casparius is a top of the lineup threat with an ability to play nearly every defensive spot on the field.
And that’s just as a position player.
Casparius (six-feet-two, 180 pounds) is also a dynamic threat on the mound, with his low 90s fastball usually enough to blow by opponents. It was on the hill where he’s made his most vital contribution to the Wreckers, going 7-0 in 2015 and helping the group advance to the FCIAC and Class LL championship games.
“We lined (Casparius) up to face our strongest opponents,” Staples coach Jack McFarland said. “He rose to every challenge.”
He was first recruited prior to starting his freshman year at Staples, and North Carolina began to show interest last summer. He made a visit in April when the Tar Heels were playing rival Duke in both baseball and basketball, giving Casparius the full rivalry experience.
“I fell in love with the campus from the first time,” Casparius said. “When I stayed down there for that weekend, that’s when I knew I was lucky to have this opportunity.”
An offer came June 25, and while he took time to evaluate, there was only going to be one decision.
“I was really excited when they offered,” Casparius said. “I wanted to take it right on the spot but I gave myself another month of playing. I was able to get other offers from other schools.”
Though only halfway through his high school career, Casparius is of the best players to ever come out of Staples to this point. He’s on pace to threaten the school record for both hits and wins on the mound.
Baseball was a passion of Casparius from a young age when he would play catch with his dad in the back yard. It wasn’t long before he was playing above his age level.
“In second grade I got called up to a fourth grade team and hit a home run,” Casparius recalled. “I was so scared (playing with older kids); now I’m used to it.”
He grew up in the Westport baseball system and played little league at each level. Before high school, he also played for the Connecticut Seals, one of the top programs in the state that competes regionally.
McFarland tabbed Casparius as the lone freshman to make varsity last year, and put him in the lineup right away.
“He handled it very well,” McFarland said. “It took him a little time to get comfortable but he didn’t look back.”
He thrived in the lineup at third base, and made several appearances out of the bullpen to help the Wreckers to a regular season title in the FCIAC and the No. 2 spot in Class LL.
In addition to his accomplishments in that sport, Casparius is also a standout basketball player. He got extensive playing time as a freshman before being inserted in the starting lineup last winter. On the hardwood he’s a knockdown shooter.
“I’ve played basketball as long as I’ve played baseball,” Casparius said. “I love basketball; (Staples) coach (Colin) Devine is a great coach. I’m a team guy so playing basketball fits that.”
Casparius has spent the last two summers competing for Baseball U, a collection of the best talent in the Northeast. The group competes against the best academies from across the country; Casparius was on Baseball U’s U-17 team that finished seventh out of more than 300 schools in a national tournament that was held across Georgia in July.
Later this month, Casparius will compete in the Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American Game. He’s the lone player from the state to get an invitation.
“It will be a really cool experience to play with some of the kids that are going to UNC, and a bunch of kids that are going to play in the top schools in the country,” Casparius said.
With Chapel Hill in his back pocket, another goal in mind for Casparius is to be selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Standouts from across the state have been drafted over the last decade, including former Tar Heel and current New York Mets ace Matt Harvey (New London).
“Committing was really like a building block,” Casparius said. “I did this; this was my goal and now I have another goal to work for. Obviously it’s a dream; as a young kid being drafted out of high school. That would be really special.”
When asked who his favorite MLB player is, Casparius didn’t give the stock answer of Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw or Bryce Harper. He instead chose Dustin Pedroia, a five-foot-eight second baseman who won American League MVP in 2008 and has close to 1,500 career hits.
“Because he works hard every day,” Casparius said. “It doesn’t matter how big you are; it matters about the effort you put in. That’s what got me in the position I’m in now.”
If that hard work continues, the sky is the limit for the future Tar Heel.