WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — If you spend the afternoon at Grand Park, it seems normalcy has been restored to baseball, but the summer ball system is far from it. Grand Park College League is one of many that have popped up around the U.S.
“We were all going crazy watching our 26 field complex sit empty for a couple of months,” said Luke Dietz.
Dietz is the director of operations for BullPen Tournaments at Grand Park, and he recently added the title of College Summer League Commissioner.
He said, “It was the combination of a lot of heads. We were talking with groups like Louisville, Cincinnati, Butler, Purdue, IU, saying, ‘Hey, we have a chance to play, and we’re going to be guaranteed to play.'”
With a new league comes a whole new set of challenges, and unique opportunities.
“We took anyone and everyone…We’ve got D1 guys, D2, D3 guys, JuCo, NAIA. So, it’s turned into a really good league and honestly probably the most competitive league being played right now,” said Dietz.
The College Summer League features 12 teams that are loaded with top Division I prospects from the Midwest. There are over 120 Division I players flocking to Westfield; 270 guys total in the league.
“There are some really good guys out here. It’s not like it’s just 80 mph fast balls. There are guys with 96 or 97,” said Ben Nisle, a junior playing baseball at Purdue. He added, “You’re definitely facing good schools, IU, Louisville, Butler, Purdue. It’s what you’ll see on a Friday night sometimes.”
But for now, this summer, the college guys take the field on Monday and Tuesday. It’s the perfect fit, because early in the week, the park normally sits empty.
But it comes at a price, literally.
“We’re not taking entry fees, we’re not selling tickets, no sponsors,” Dietz added. “So, this was an opportunity for them to pay for the league.”
The solution he’s speaking of is summer jobs. Why not let some guys pay off their debts by working for Grand Park?
Dietz said, “It works out for them and then we’re trying to make sure we break even.”
Nearly 50 college players jumped at the opportunity. On their days off, Wednesday through Sunday, they keep stats, work on the fields, and manage the tournaments in Westfield.
Patrick Mastrian, former Bishop Chatard pitching standout and current Michigan baseball commit, is one of them.
”It’s weird working and not playing weekends, but watching these kids play because that used to be me, but once you get used to it, it’s all good. It’s just watching baseball for money basically,” said Mastrian.