Silver Slugger: Andover's Wolff crushing it for Nashua in FCBL this summer

·6 min read

Jul. 9—NASHUA, N.H. — The music blasted in the late afternoon sun, line shots rifled off maple and ash, and the smile never left Kyle Wolff's face.

The recent Middlesex School grad from Andover picked the perfect summer job. Sure, the commute, 30-35 minutes depending on traffic, can be a little tough and the nights can be long, but the kid is thriving.

And after all, it is baseball, right?

"There are some long, long days. A couple nights ago we played at Vermont, and we got back at 2 a.m. Then you have to drive home, come back the next day to be here by 1 or 2 p.m. and do it all over again," said Wolff, from the on-deck circle at Historic Holman Stadium where he is currently shredding the baseball for the Nashua Silver Knights.

"Overall, it's just been a great experience."

The Silver Knights compete in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, one of the three major wooden-bat summer leagues for college baseball players in New England.

In a league loaded with seasoned college veterans trying on a nightly basis to hone their craft and perhaps entice more interest from the pro scouts, Wolff currently sits fifth overall in the FCBL with a gaudy .360 average.

The three hitter in the Silver Knights lineup, he leads the team in homers with five and RBIs with 20 over 26 games played.

For a kid who was playing high school ball two months ago, that's not supposed to happen.

SURPRISE OF THE SUMMER

First off, high school grads don't just walk into the FCBL. He got some help.

"Boston College (where he will enter in the fall) set it up for me, and my (Northeast Baseball AAU) coach Scott Patterson helped, too," said Wolff. "Now, I'm just going out there to have fun. The goal is to get on base every single game, get on base every single time. Then it's hit the ball hard, and it's hit the ball into the gaps. If it goes out it goes out. I've been fortunate to hit the ball out a couple times."

Being immersed in baseball is nothing new for Wolf, who aside from a year away from the game recovering from Tommy John Surgery, has always jumped in enthusiastically.

But Nashua presented challenges that he hadn't endured in the past.

"The pitching is great in this league, (the velocity) is very good," said Wolff, who grew up in Andover and attended middle school at Saint John's Prep. "The thing that strikes me, when I would go down South (with his NEB summer team), I'd face the same kind of velo, upper 80s, low 90s, so it hasn't blown me away. In this league, all these kids can throw their off-speed for strikes. You can be in a 2-0 count, and they'll throw you a curve ball. That took a little getting used to in the beginning.

"I didn't expect to be playing this well, but the ISL prepared me. Every single game, you would face a Division 1 arm. Playing for Northeast Baseball, last summer our team had like 30 D-1 guys. We'd face the top teams in the country. That prepared me immensely for this. I've just tried to stay within myself, not think too much at the plate. The results, fortunately, have been there."

A pitcher-first baseman by trade, Wolff will not take the mound this summer. The 6-foot-1 lefty (throws left, bats right) has been one-dimensional for the first time pretty much in his baseball life.

"I love pitching. I love hitting. The goal is to do both as long as I could, and BC let me do that," said Wolff. "Since I had Tommy John, I've been up and down, on innings limits and pitch counts. My arm feels great now. This spring was one of the first times it felt great.

"This summer I've been able to focus just on hitting. It's made me a lot better at the plate, spending more time on hitting, also getting more time with my fielding too, and that's helped me out a bunch."

BORN TO PLAY BALL

There isn't a ton of baseball in his lineage — Kyle's dad played soccer at Colgate — but it's easy to see that Wolff was bred for this.

He was a key member of the 2016 Andover National Little League All-Stars, a team that has spit out top talent in this area like recently-named Eagle-Tribune All-Stars Chase Lembo (Andover High) and Owen Christopher (Brooks).

Colleges took note early.

"It's crazy. I was not even a freshman in high school and I was talking to college coaches. I didn't even know where I was going to high school and I was talking to coaches," he said. "BC was always one of the top schools on my list. I love coach (Mike) Gambino. I've talked to him for like four years now. He's been great to me.

"The academics at BC are great. That played a big factor. I wasn't going to Middlesex, one of the best prep schools in the country, just to waste away that education. BC is great academics, great athletics, plus playing in the ACC. You can't get much better competition than that.

"I talked to Northwestern, Harvard, Duke, Virginia Tech ... but BC was basically always at the top of my list. They gave me an offer, and it was hard to resist."

Of course, here in Nashua, he's in a pool laden with similar type players, most of them older and more seasoned. So, there are life lessons to be learned. Wolff has played in 26 of the Silver Knights 37 games, third highest on the team. Nobody has played in more than 29. Sitting — at least when healthy — is new to him.

"There's a ton of talent out here, a ton of great guys out here. I knew coming in, you're not going to play every night, you're going to have to fight for your spot. You have to fight to be out there, make the most of your opportunities, the at-bats you get," Wolff said.

"At the same time, you don't put too much pressure on yourself. It's still baseball, have some fun. Humbling is a great word for it. In college, you're going to have guys four years older than you, a lot stronger, a lot better. Most of these guys have never sat. It has been humbling. It makes you have a greater appreciation for the game when you're watching it from the bench."

Wolff won't be spending much time on the pine the next month or so. The Silver Knights — who routinely play before a couple thousand fans a night at Holman — will be cranking things up in the run toward the playoffs.

He just wants to continue soaking in the experience and learn as much as he can on the summer job.

"It's definitely been a grind, but it's preparing me for college," Wolff said.

"I've heard, people have told me at BC, that's what you do. You fly in late, then you have class the next morning. It's preparing me well.

"Last regular season game here is August 10, and move-in day at BC is August 25. From there, it's the start of fall ball, and I can't wait."