When Turner French arrived to play summer ball for the Mystic Schooners, he had no idea how the team planned to utilize him out of the bullpen. When he was anointed as the team’s closer on Opening Day, he set himself on a mission to keep the job for the duration of the season.
"I actually wasn’t expecting it at all," French said. "I played in the Hamptons (Collegiate Baseball) League last year, which is not as established as a league. So coming into the NECBL, I don’t want to put myself down, but being surrounded by all this talent, I wasn’t expecting to be thrown into that closer role. But after the first game where I threw a couple of innings in some tight situations, I think I proved that I was able to do it. From there, Coach (Phil) Orbe kept putting me into those closing spots and I was able to do pretty well. I’m just trying to keep that rolling."
Perhaps part of the surprise is that French — a rising junior at St. John’s University who hails from Wallingford, Conn. — doesn’t fit the typical closer mold. He’s a lefty, has a sidearm delivery and depends on his breaking ball rather than a strikeout fastball to be effective. Still, the decision to make French the team closer paid dividends quickly.