Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cogswell playing beyond his years for Dodgers

Branden Cogswell makes a play during a game in the AABC open qualifier in July at Geer Field in Troy. The 16-year-old shortstop has been the South Troy Dodgers' most consistent offensive performer this season and he led them to a birth in the 2009 Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record)

William Montgomery
The Record

TROY - The South Troy Dodgers Connie Mack team is renowned for giving local high school-age players an avenue to showcase their talents on the diamond and wind up on Division I college rosters.
Ballston Lake native Branden Cogswell, however, isn’t worrying about any of that. At least not until after he takes the SAT.
The 16-year-old shortstop enters his junior year at Shenendehowa High School this fall, but has met the challenge of competing against players two years his elder. Throughout the Dodgers' Atlantic Coast Elite Baseball League regular season, Cogswell consistently made contact and got on base, moving up from the bottom of the order to find a home in the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
His infield defense also helped the Dodgers win July's North Atlantic Regional at Geer Field and vault South Troy into the 2009 American Amateur Baseball Congress World Series in Farmington, N.M. for the fourth time this decade.
"I still have to take the SAT and I'm not really looking forward to that," Cogswell laughed, "but I look forward to coming here every day and busting on these guys. They all joke around and tell me to 'come to Iona or come to Canisius or wherever they’re going.' That's not really my priority now. Once I take the SAT and once I get those scores back, then I'll be looking at what I can do."
The Dodgers coaching staff tempered expectations for Cogswell at the beginning of the year, who would easily qualify to play 16-and-under baseball at the Mickey Mantle level under the AABC's age-limit cutoff. Instead, he’ll be facing the likes of the East Cobb (Ga.) Yankees and the Florida Legends in the World Series. The Yankees are two-time defending champions and the Legends had eight players on their roster taken in June’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
A left-handed hitter, Cogswell kept finding ways to get on base and he kept finding himself creeping up in the batting order.
"If you would have told me at the beginning of the year he would hit .400 and play short as solid as he did, I would have told you you were crazy," said South Troy manager Kevin Rogers. "He's exceeded expectations and the sky is the limit for Cogs. He's done great and day in and day out he comes to work. He's a serious baseball player. He wants to get better and he continually gets better."
South Troy's roster also features four rising seniors at La Salle Institute - Zach Ferris, Will Remillard, Dave Roseboom and J.P.Sportman – but Cogswell is the only one with two years of high school remaining.
"The competition here is like nothing else around," Cogswell said. "Being a part of organization is really something and being on an elite team and playing up is amazing for me and helps me to reach the potential I can reach."
All of the Dodgers’ college-bound players have raved about Cogswell’s abilities, especially South Troy third baseman Chris Sand. The two became familiar when Cogswell played against Sand’s younger brother, who was on the Christian Brothers Academy junior varsity team this past season.
"It makes me feel old to play with (Cogswell)," Sand laughed. "He was a little bit unproven at the beginning of the year, but he's one of the best players in our league. He really is. He's been tremendous for us."
Cogswell went to the 14-and-under World Series with East Greenbush DevilCats a few years ago, but said he is eagerly awaiting the Dodgers’ trip to Farmington for the 10-team double elimination Connie Mack World Series, which is widely regarded as the pinnacle of amateur baseball in the United States. South Troy faces the host Durango Thunder in an opening round game at Ricketts Park Friday night.
"For me, I personally want to play every day," he said. "It doesn't matter where. Whatever I can do to help the team win, I'm going to do. My goal is to play the infield, whether it's second or short, every day and do what I can to help this team win.

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