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"It's been an awesome experience and I'm really glad I'm doing it."
Facing older, more experienced players can be daunting, but Hass hasn’t been intimidated at all, instead saying that he’s loved his time in the league so far.
“Oh it’s awesome. Just the experience, being out here with the older guys,” Hass said. “Playing well is always fun. I was really excited coming in, I didn’t really know what to expect, but it’s been an awesome experience and I’m really glad I’m doing it.”
Even though he’s only in his first season in the RCBL, Hass recognizes the history behind the league as the oldest amateur league in the country. He knows about the great players that have come through the area and enjoys the opportunity to play on the same fields as they did.
“Yeah it’s definitely cool,” Hass said about the league’s history. “To be playing in the league, just being around some of these guys, some guys who played professional, who played in college, it’s been a really cool experience.”
One of those former professional players that Hass was particularly excited about playing against is Bridgewater first baseman Brian Bocock, who had stints in MLB with the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies.
When the Dbacks faced off against the Reds on June 20, Hass reached base twice, giving him an opportunity to meet the former pro.
“It’s awesome. I knew about him before I even played him,” Hass said about competing against Bocock. “I got a hit, got to first and he was standing there and he was like, ‘Hey, nice hit.’”
“That’s awesome, a former big leaguer is talking to me about that.”
A graduate of St. Anne’s-Belfield in Charlottesville, Hass wanted to find somewhere to play summer ball before heading off to college in the fall. Luckily for the Dbacks slugger, he knew a few former Draft players who put him in touch with the team.
“I knew Tanner Morris who played here last year and Luke Burton who played here last year from Charlottesville,” Hass said. “Luke Burton was like, ‘You should play in this league,’ and he gave me Les Sandridge’s number and I contacted him and that’s sort of how it all started.”
Morris and Burton both played for the Dbacks last season before beginning careers in NCAA Division I baseball. Morris led the league in batting average before reporting to UVA at the end of the summer, where he started in 50 games for the Cavaliers this season.
Burton played his freshman season at Davidson College, appearing in seven games for the Wildcats.
Hass won’t be joining either one of them at the Division I level, but he’s all right with that. The Atlanta, Ga. native will be attending Randolph-Macon College, where he expects to get an opportunity to play right away for the Yellow Jackets.
“I thought I can go to a small DI and maybe play, maybe not, and probably not win a lot, or I can go to a place like Randolph-Macon, hopefully make an impact when I first get there, and win a national championship, which is my dream,” Hass said.
He visited other schools when making his college decision, but ultimately it came down to where he felt he belonged.
“I had a couple offers and I did some overnights at each place and it really came down to the school,” Hass said. “I really like the school, the feel of the school. Obviously the baseball team, they just made the College World Series, so that definitely helped me make my decision.”
Hass has played baseball his entire life and he feels like his travel ball experiences have helped him so far in the RCBL. Now that he’s heading off to college, the RCBL is helping him prepare for the next step in his baseball career.
“Playing travel ball, I played against some kids who just got drafted, I played with and against them, so they were obviously pretty good,” Hass said. “I think playing against them got me ready for playing here and in college, but there are definitely some guys in this league that I get up there and I’m like he can blow it by me if he wants to. Which is great, like I said it’s getting me ready for college.”
Stuarts Draft has gotten off to a bit of a rough start this season as the Diamondbacks are currently 4-8. In their first game back from the All-Star break, though, the Dbacks pounded Grottoes for a 15-1 slaughter rule win.
Hass went 2-for-3 with two walks, three runs scored and an RBI in the win. He feels like the team is starting to put the rocky start behind them and turn their season around as they near the halfway point.
“We’re going to pick it up. I know the history’s there. It’s been a little rough at times, but I feel like we get everyone back, everyone’s starting to warm up a little bit,” Hass said. “Even in our last couple of games, everyone’s starting to hit a little better, pitch a little better. So hopefully after the All-Star break we can pick it up and make a run.”
If you catch a Stuarts Draft game this season, make sure to keep your eye out for their star shortstop. You might be a bit confused when trying to find him on the field, though; his last name is misspelled on his jersey.
“It was just a mistake,” Hass said about the misspelling. “My coach, he accidentally sent it in as Haas, and they just ordered a new jersey for me, so that should be coming in soon.”
He’s not upset about the mistake, though. In fact, it actually works out better for him.
“The joke is like, with Haas, they actually pronounce my name right, which is interesting, instead of Hass,” he said. “But yeah, I’ll get a new jersey here in a couple of weeks.”
“That’s good for him, I love that,” Broadway head coach Justin Getz said. “We’re absolutely ecstatic for him.”
“That’s what we’re about here, building these guys up to go play a higher level of baseball. If they want to go play in the Valley League, by all means, it’d be wrong for us to try and stop them.”
Kandrick is a native of Front Royal and is currently a rising sophomore at Roanoke College, where he hit .300 with one home run and 15 RBIs this past season.
Kandrick has been a key part of the Bruins turnaround over the past two seasons, being named to the All-RCBL Rookie Team in 2017. He batted .302 for Broadway last season and scored 11 runs.
The second-year catcher currently leads the RCBL in RBIs with 14 on the season. He is second in batting average at .419 and tied for second in home runs with two on the season.
Kandrick’s two home runs came in a game against Stuarts Draft on June 17 when he hit grand slams in back-to-back at bats.
“The Valley League is getting a good ball player,” Getz said. “Maybe in a few years he’ll come back and play for us and he’ll be an even better player.”
Kandrick joins Strasburg, who hosts the Harrisonburg Turks tonight at First Bank Park. The Express are currently 5-13 on the season and in fifth place in the North Division.