NORTH KINGSTOWN — Perhaps it’s fitting that Lincoln High senior Nick Zammarelli got to share his special moment – that of getting selected by the hometown Boston Red Sox in the 28th round of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player draft, No. 833 overall – with his teammates and coaches.
After all, both groups were generous with their support and encouragement through every twist and turn of his career.
Whenever scouts told Zammarelli that they wanted to see him take batting practice with a wood bat, you could always count on seeing a number of Lion players shagging fly balls. For many, witnessing their acclaimed teammate subjected to heavy and sometimes intense scrutiny was as close as they would get to experiencing life as a professional ballplayer.
With that as the back story, it shouldn’t come as a shock that the team showered Zammarelli with applause upon learning the good news, moments before Lincoln’s Division I playoff game against North Kingstown at Lischio Field.
“I couldn’t have done this without my coaches or teammates. They were behind me the whole way and calmed me down when I looked stressed at times,” was the gratitude Zammarelli expressed following the Lions’ season-ending 1-0 loss to the Skippers on Saturday. “I owe it all to them. They kept me motivated and to keep my head up no matter what happened.”
The feeling was mutual from those who have been with Zammarelli every step of the way.
“I’m proud of him. He’s such a great kid and has been such a great captain this year,” remarked Lincoln head coach Andy Hallam. “He’s got a long, long career ahead of him.”
The news of the Red Sox selection of the local product came while Zammarelli was taking pre-game grounders at shortstop – roughly 10 minutes before the scheduled 4:30 p.m. first pitch. Serving as the messenger, his enthusiastic sister, Tayla, rushed to the chain link fence just outside the Lions’ dugout. Understanding that her brother had important business to attend to, Tayla passed along the word before returning to stand next to her parents, Nick Jr. and Lisa.
Listed on MLB.com as a 6-foot-1, 195-pound third baseman, Zammarelli earns the distinction as the first-ever player to be drafted out of Lincoln High and the only 2013 R.I. Interscholastic League participant to hear his name called during the 40-round draft extravaganza that was spread over three days.
In recent years the town has seen a number of players get drafted, the list including Stephen Holmes (2006, New York Mets), Dan Rhault (2009, Tampa Bay) and Chris Pickering (2012, San Francisco). All of those players, however, had college baseball experience under their belts. Another Lincoln native, Chris Costantino, was a senior at Bishop Hendricken when the Red Sox selected him in the 49th round of the 2009 draft.
The pro scouts followed Zammarelli – a commit to Division I Elon University, located in North Carolina – with great interest during the regular season. Batting mainly in the leadoff spot for the Lions, he earned high marks for his ability to hit for average and power while displaying plate discipline. He served as Lincoln’s starting shortstop, though he projects best as a corner infielder.
Ironically, the Red Sox were one of the last teams to express strong interest. Ray Fagnant, Boston’s Northeast Regional Scouting Supervisor, appeared at Chet Nichols Field for Lincoln’s June 1 playoff game against Barrington. Zammarelli first met Fagnant during a clinic the New York Yankees held in Canton, Mass. last November.
“I didn’t see (Fagnant) at a high school game until the end of the season,” said Zammarelli. “Basically what he said to me is that the Red Sox don’t like to let the northeast guys go and that they were going to try to get me. I guess it ended up working out.”