Our penultimate group of players from Europe or eligible for the continent’s national teams includes a baker’s dozen of players with surnames starting with ‘S’ and ‘T’. They include two players that were invited to the MLB Elite Tournament at Farnham Park near London, plus four high school players. In total, eight nations are represented, including Ollie Thompson (pictured above), one of three players herein that have donned Great Britain’s jersey, with another three eligible for Greece.
Conor Santoianni, OF (SO, Springfield College [20-17], Mass.) [Bio]
Santoianni never got going in a tough spring season, slashing .132/.195/.211 in 38 at bats before suiting up for Ireland at the B-Level European Championship.
Jonah Schaller, RHP-1B (HS JR, Abbeville H.S., S.C.) [Bio]
No information is available on Schaller, nor is it clear whether he attends Abbeville H.S. in South Carolina or Louisiana. The two-way player has already seen international time for Switzerland and was born in Düdingen.
Brendan Scott, SS-OF (SR, Queensbury H.S., N.Y.) [Bio]
Scott has already suited up for Ireland as a high schooler and has shown some versatility, playing shortstop and centre in 2019 after catcher and pitcher a year prior. Scott’s tryout video can be viewed here [link].
Ari Sechopoulos, 1B (JR, College of Charleston [36-21], S.C.) [Bio]
The Ontario-born Sechopoulos struggled through a very difficult season in 2019, collecting hits in only 14 games out of 52 played. After a promising 2018, the Greek national teamer once more failed to take hold of the starting first base spot and slashed .202/.312/.327. On the other hand, Sechopoulos dramatically cut his strikeout rate to 19.2% from 34.5% in 2018 and had a .993 fielding percentage.
The highlights for the season were a 4-for-5 day with two doubles and a home run against crosstown rivals Charleston Southern on May 7 and a 2-for-2 day on February 17 against UNC-Asheville in which he doubled and homered. This scorching stretch set him up for a splendid performance at European Championship Qualifier after the season ended. Sechopoulos can finish on a high note in 2020 and improve further on his .246/.336/.453 career line in his senior year.
Adam Skiles, IF-RHP (HS SO, Cambridge H.S. Junior Varsity [14-4], Ga.) [Bio]
The youngest player on our list, Sweden’s Skiles played internationally before even making his high school’s varsity squad. Checking in at 5-9, 145, Skiles can play infield and pitch.
Nolan Soliveres, C-OF (JR, Webber International University [38-22], Fla.) [Bio]
Soliveres transferred to WIU after two successful seasons at Hillsborough Community College and played in almost half of the Warriors’ games. Most of his starts came earlier in the season with excellent results, suggesting that the catcher-outfielder for France had some injuries.
In his first 11 games, Soliveres was 13-for-37 with four doubles, two triples, and a home run. He had eight walks and 12 strikeouts, leading to a .351/.479/.649. From that point onward, Soliveres collected only a pair of two-baggers, a single home run, and only one walk and played in only five games in April.
Behind the dish, Soliveres threw out 3-of-18 runners with six passed balls and a .977 fielding percentage. Soliveres’ final line was .220/.314/.396 with 36 strikeouts in 91 at bats, but his early-season hot streak must leave Webber hopeful of a big senior season.
Matteo Sollecito, RHP-3B (SR, St. Peter’s Prep School [18-10], N.J.) [Bio]
Sollecito started at the top of the lineup for the Marauders as a third baseman and pitcher. Only partial statistics are available, but they suggest a key contributor, especially on the mound. In six starts, Sollecito struck out 49 in only 36.1 innings, surrendering only 18 hits.
Sollecito pitched back-to-back one-hitters in a six-day span in April, striking out 11 in 11 innings with no runs. He finished with two-straight 10-strikeout games, needing only 5.2 and five innings to total those marks. In total, Great Britain’s two-way player finished with a 1.16 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, though he did walk 18.
The righty topped out at 88 on the season, sitting 84 with his fastball, with a change-up at 79, and a breaking ball at 71 [link]. At 6-3, 200 and with those numbers, it is unsurprising that Swarthmore College scooped him up for the 2019-20 season.
It was not just on the mound that Sollecito excelled, however, as he slashed .286/.412/.558 with 20 walks and 27 strikeouts in 97 at bats. He added nine stolen bases while showcasing an electric arm at the hot corner.
It is unclear whether Matteo’s brother Alex, who played for Great Britain at one point, is still playing.
Nick Spiliotis, Manager of Baseball Operations (Dayton University [20-17], Ohio) [Bio]
Spiliotis finished his university career in 2018, but played outfield for the Greek national team. He manages day-to-day operations for the Flyers, including use of Rapsodo and Synergy technologies.
Zach Stroman, 1B (SR, St. Ambrose University [15-26], Iowa) [Bio]
Stroman capped a four-year university career with his best season, more than doubling his career total in home runs. Stroman launched four round-trippers for the Fighting Bees and started more than 60 percent of the team’s games, ending his career with a bang.
There were several highlights along the way. From March 8-10, Stroman’s Fighting Bees faced Soliveres’ Warriors, though the two only played in the same game once, on March 9, when both went hitless.
In his final 11 games, Stroman went 14-for-34 with four doubles and four home runs, collecting eight walks. That included an April 20 game against Trinity Christian in which he went 3-for-5, launching two dingers and a double, walking once. The last game of Stroman’s career was a huge performance, as the London native went 5-for-7 with a double and a walk, driving in three and recording 16 putouts in a 17-16, 12-inning walk-off loss.
Stroman’s final line was .258/.346/.452 in 30 games, 25 starts. Overall, in four seasons in the U.S., the first-sacker hit .273/.385/.364, showing a strong batting eye.
Tijmen Takke, IF (FR, Phoenix College [25-30], Ariz.) [Bio]
Takke played regularly in his rookie campaign for the Bears, though he missed the final three weeks of the season. His first two weeks were arguably his finest, as he went 5-for-13 with three runs, a triple, a walk, and no strikeouts.
The Dutch outfielder took on Sammy Hackl’s Arizona Western in a doubleheader on March 26 and both were 0-for-3 in the first game. Takke was 0-for-1 in the nightcap, in which countryman Angelo Wicklert pitched, though Takke did not face him. Takke struggled after his initial hot streak, finishing with a .190/.269/.253 line with 10 walks and 18 strikeouts in 93 plate appearances. He had a .976 fielding percentage.
Ollie Thompson, OF (FR, New Mexico Junior College [42-17], N.M.) [Bio]
Thompson had quite an experience in his first university season as the Thunderbirds advanced all the way to the JuCo World Series. The outfielder for Great Britain was then selected for the MLB Elite Camp in his home country and threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches in the second game of the London Series.
Thompson had an excellent season on the field, playing in 22 games, though he did not receive an at bat after April 18, missing the final six weeks of the season. Thompson will not soon forget March 8, in which he ripped his first collegiate home run in the second game of a doubleheader against El Paso Community College, also collecting a single, a walk, and his first steal. It was one of five two-hit games, with a pair coming in a twinbill against Luna Community College on March 30.
NMJC faced two other regional colleges that feature Europeans, with Thompson facing Odessa College, which features Andretta, Cihlar, and Monello on March 26, going 1-for-5. None of the Wranglers’ Europeans played in the 20-15 win for New Mexico. In the reverse on April 27, Thompson served as a defensive replacement, while Monello went 1-for-3 with a double. On April 18, Thompson was 0-for-1 against Clarendon college, while France’s Maël Zan was 2-for-3.
Thompson slashed .333/.467/.521 for the season, the first and last figures slightly below average on for the slugging Thunderbirds. Still, 10 walks in 60 plate appearances is an excellent showing for a first-year player, even with 15 strikeouts. Thompson will return for a second season to the Top JuCo and attempt to top 2019’s incredible feats.
Conner Tomasic, RHP-IF (FR, Purdue University [20-34], Ind.) [Bio]
Tomasic saw plenty of action in his first season for the Boilermakers, pitching in 14 games and appearing in another nine at third base. The righty twice tossed 3.2 innings in relief, once against Ball State on March 19, when he struck out five and permitted only a single hit, and again on Apr. 12, allowing one run. Tomasic’ season ERA was an excellent 2.75, with 15 strikeouts and seven walks in 19.2 frames. The national teamer for Serbia was 3-for-12 with a triple and five strikeouts at the plate.
Thomas Triantos, LHP (RS JR, Cal Poly State University [28-28], Calif.) [Bio]
Triantos cut down on his walks in his third college season, but gave up significantly more hits in 2019. The Greek-eligible southpaw threw 24.2 innings with a 5.47 ERA and only 13 strikeouts.