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Currently a scout with the Boston Red Sox, comes from a dedicated baseball family, so it’s no surprise that he has made a career out of the sport. His brother is a minor league player for the Oakland Athletics, and his father is a front-office executive for the San Francisco Giants. Both he and his brother saw first-hand what professional baseball is like and what it takes to play at that level, and loved the game since childhood.
In fourth grade, Dante first heard about the Worcester Heat, an AAU team being run by Shrewsbury Club founder Nate Sorensen, and quickly became invested in baseball. Both he and his brother later played in Shrewsbury Club’s program, with his father as coach. Together with summer baseball tournaments and traveling, Dante felt that his future was set – and it was. “During those years we learned a lot,” said Dante. “And it shaped a lot of our friendships, which are still going on today.”
Dante was just 14 years old when he knew that he wanted to be part of baseball in a meaningful way as a professional. “That was when I was playing at Nate’s place, and really fell in love with it.” Playing the game, competing, and watching the other players gave him an opportunity to truly appreciate the sport.
Dante attended Worcester Academy in high school and went on to an outstanding college career playing ball first at Georgetown, then at Bryant University in Rhode Island where he graduated.
While some players excel in college, not all stay in the game and “step into the real world,” said Dante. “But for me, baseball is my real world. I can’t picture myself sitting behind a desk. I realized that there was an avenue to pursue, I knew my occupation, something I liked. I took it upon myself to follow in Dad’s footsteps.”
As a scout, Dante says “It’s always been there, from a very young age – being able to recognize talent. It comes from playing, and to put it simply, you know who you want on your team. Think of yourself as a fan when you’re watching, and then give me the best player on the field. That’s what we’re doing in scouting and what we’re trying to evaluate.”
Whose powerful and unusual southpaw pitching style earned him a place with the Montgomery Biscuits, a Tampa Bay Rays AA minor league club, says “It’s just what feels natural to me” in describing his unorthodox pitching style. His unique delivery works, and quickly became evident to scouts during his college years at Virginia Tech.
Ian’s love of the game began, as is often the case, as a boy of about ten years. “I moved from Connecticut when I was in fourth grade, and that was my first year playing with Nate,” says Ian, recalling how The Shrewsbury Club’s Nate Sorensen developed his interest and his skill in the game. Playing with the club at that age was transforming. “That’s where I learned it all,” he says. “I got to play baseball year round there. I loved that place.” The club was instrumental in Ian’s development as a player, but participation also marked the beginning of lifelong friendships with other players. “We all started there and all knew each other, and grew up playing together. It was a really special environment. I wouldn’t have made it to where I am today without that help.”
Ian went on to play in high school at St. John’s in Shrewsbury, where his team won the state championship in his senior year. “I had already committed to Virginia Tech at that point, so it was a fun way to finish off playing baseball in high school,” he recalled.
As a college student during the Covid pandemic he was only able to play during his freshman and sophomore years, with the junior year cut short as team sports ground to a dramatic halt. He didn’t let
the pandemic stop him in pursuing a career in baseball though, scouts who had already seen videos of Ian’s attention- getting delivery on the field followed up with Zoom interviews as opposed to the traditional in-person meet. Capturing the attention of the Tampa Bay Rays “was a unique situation,” he says, “Usually when you get drafted, you go right to play, but because the world was shut down, I just hung out at home after I was drafted. I didn’t get my first taste of professional baseball until 2021.”
His long history of enjoying the game from childhood, participating in The Shrewsbury Club’s unique program, and going on to play in college gave Ian a powerful and special background that will inevitably lead him to a long and successful career in the pros. The Shrewsbury Club gave him an opportunity to learn the game and work on his pitches and set him on his current path to baseball glory. “That’s where it all began.”
Currently a sophomore at Duke University, left-handed pitcher and outfielder Jonathan Santucci was ranked as the #23 prospect in the 2024 MLB draft and exhibits an outstanding combination of bat speed and arm strength.
Jonathan played in the prestigious Cape Cod League in the summer of 2022, known to be one of the best summer leagues for returning college players. Historically, some of the top college players were invited to this league. “It allowed me to continue to work on things, and play against the best competition,” said Jonathan. “That’s the only way you can get better. I saw a lot of development throughout the summer and learned a lot of things from Nate Sorensen and from everybody involved.”
Jonathan has always had a fascination with the game, playing at The Shrewsbury Club since he was 12 years old all the way through high school. “A lot of the kids stayed together the entire time, and that allowed us to continue building relationships. We’re very friendly still to this day,” said Jonathan.
Besides his extraordinary pitching arm, one of Jonathan’s top qualities is simply his work ethic. “That work ethic, I believe, is always going to put you ahead of everybody else,” he said. “There’s just a mindset I’ve always had and tried to continue with, especially in college. When you get to college and become one of the younger kids, it’s eye-opening to see the competition. So the work ethic, and having a good schedule and routine, has really helped me to be successful this past year.”
As he initially began considering colleges, Jonathan credits The Shrewsbury Club and founder Nate Sorensen in helping prepare for his college journey. “They were a big influence, and they helped a lot in terms of talking to coaches and getting my name out there. That really allowed us to be able to become college athletes, and a lot of us being able to go to the schools we really wanted to go to from the beginning.” Duke was one of Jonathan’s first choices, both because of the strong academics and the athletic program.
His goal has always been to play professional baseball, but appreciates the influence of The Shrewsbury Club as well as the opportunities he is seeing at Duke. “It’s the blend of academics and athletics that will set me up for later on in life as well. Being able to fall back on a Duke degree is huge.”
Jonathan was also invited to the USA National team trials recently, which typically involves the top 50 college players in the country. “It was a huge honor,” said Jonathan. “I got to play for USA and represent my country, and I also got to play against the top players in the country for a week.”