Cranston East (RI)

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

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To view the full list of 2023 Team Previews that we have already completed, please click here.

2023 Spring Team Preview: Cranston East

CRANSTON, R.I. - Concerns are normal for Cranston East head coach Gary Bucci.

“We feel very good about our team if guys are eligible,” Bucci said. “This is a melting pot. A lot of Dominicans come here and you have to deal with a lot of outside stuff. Are they eligible? Will they be late? If we get everybody here, we’ll be good. Our middle infield will be solid and we have three or four solid pitchers, but we need help in the outfield.”

Randy Guzman, the second-rated senior right-handed pitcher in Rhode Island, anchors a strong pitching staff that includes senior Adrian Pimental and juniors Jayven Alexander, John Devine and Joshua Pozo.

“He’s tall, lanky and strong with a lot of movement and he’s a smart kid,” Bucci said of Guzman, a Central Connecticut State signee who had the top fastball at the recent New England ProCase at 92.2 miles an hour. “He’s a pitcher not a thrower.”

Carlos Merejo, the 19th-rated junior catcher in New England, gives Guzman and company a strong target behind the plate after starting a year ago.

Alexander is back to play shortstop with Pimental returning at third base. Senior Damon Ascencio, an American International commit, will be at second base or short, depending on who pitches for the Thunderbolts, with first base wide open according to Bucci.

Kelvin Santos and Armani Pimental, a pair of 11th graders, are among those that will play outfield this season.

“I like our hitting and pitching and we will be okay defensively, but we’ve got to find a center fielder that can make the routine plays,” Bucci explained. “We also need more team speed.”

But the team does have a lot of promise according to the fifth-year head coach.

“It’s an older team and I think we’ll be able to put it in play,” Bucci noted. “I’m hoping strikeouts are not as frequent.”

As for the keys, Bucci sees two major areas of importance.

“Depth and pitching,” Bucci said. “I think we have three or four pitchers that can start and eat up some innings and last year we only had one-and-a-half.”

Bucci admits to relishing the challenges ahead.

“I enjoy it here very much,” Bucci related. “It’s a melting pot type of school with very little parental involvement.

“Back in 1979 we won a state championship here but there have been a lot of peaks and valleys. We’ve stayed in Division I in Rhode Island which is a big thing.”


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