New Jersey Super-17 Program
Despite having had the opportunity of playing only one season in the New Jersey Super-17 Program at Jack Cust Baseball Academy (JCBA), Mike Melillo regards the experience as time exceedingly well spent. Mike enters his senior year at North Hunterdon High School; his age will make him ineligible to compete in Super-17 next year.
Having participated in several baseball tournaments already, in which he faced high levels of competition, Mike likens his Super-17 summer to an extended tournament. He references the “quality baseball (and the) great competition” that he and his Super-17 teammates got to play every game during the summer just ended.
Mike expresses his gratitude for the training and the exposure that Super-17 provided. He speaks admiringly of the excellent tutelage that he received from JCBA Coach Keith Dilgard, and he gives special thanks to Jack Cust for arranging to have as many as “6 to 10 scouts” at each Super-17 game.
Among other things, Coach Dilgard helped Mike develop a better sense of game management from behind the plate. Some of Coach’s timeless tips included deciding when to call for certain pitches according to the count on the batter, especially given the individual hitter’s observed strengths and weaknesses; setting up the hitter with different speeds and locations for the inevitable “out” pitch; “going after the hitter with no one on (base);” and, making those decision based on ever-changing game situations. All these aspects of playing the catcher’s position correctly comprise the challenges that backstops face minute-by-minute and pitch-by-pitch during the course of a ball game.
Mike found the sound organization and comradeship among JCBA and Super-17 staff equally impressive. Not surprisingly, the players on the Super-17 teams readily adopted those traits. He will probably miss this aspect of the program most.
Already, Mike has received interest from schools in the Big East, Atlantic Coast, Ivy League, and Big Southern Conferences. In addition he received invitations from the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers to participate in their professional showcases at the end of August. Needless to say, Hunterdon County Baseball will follow Mike’s exploits with great interest and wishes him only the best of luck as his baseball future and good fortunes unfold.