URI catcher Zach Zaneski has signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers. The Waterford, Conn., native is the eighth Rhode Island baseball player to sign with an MLB team since 2003.
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” said Zaneski. “I had a great four years at Rhode Island and wouldn’t be in this position right now without the support of my coaches and teammates.”
Zaneski, a two-time All-Atlantic 10 selection and recipient of this year’s Rick Ligi Team MVP Award, finished the 2008 season with a team-best .355 batting average. He also led the squad with 77 hits, 49 runs, 46 RBI, 17 doubles, a .449 on-base percentage and 108 total bases.
Defensively, he led all A-10 catchers, having thrown out 27 potential base stealers. He ranks third all-time at URI with 1,027 career putouts and was one of 48 Division I student-athletes in the running for the 2008 Johnny Bench Award that is presented annually to the nation’s top catcher.
“I am really proud of Zach,” said head coach Jim Foster. “He had a great career here and certainly deserves this opportunity. He has been everything a coach could ask for both on and off the field.”
Zaneski is the eighth Rhode Island baseball player to sign with an MLB team since 2003. Steve Holmes was selected by the New York Mets in the fifth round (154th overall) of the 2006 Draft, Rhode Island’s highest-ever draft pick. In 2005, Zack Zuercher was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth round (290th overall), while Mike Rainville (Tampa Bay Devil Rays) and Mick Lefort (Chicago Cubs) signed free agent contracts. Dan Batz went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2004 Draft (178th overall) and right-handed pitchers Reid Willett (21st round, 613th pick, Chicago Cubs) and Jared Trout (28th round, 842nd pick, Oakland Athletics) were selected after their junior seasons and signed professional contracts in 2003.
The 2008 Rhode Island baseball team collected more wins that any other Division I team in New England, finishing its season with an overall record of 31-27-1. In conference play, the Rams posted a 15-11-1 mark to qualify for their sixth-consecutive Atlantic 10 tournament. There, fifth-seeded URI took down fourth-seeded Temple (7-1) and top-seeded Xavier (11-4) before falling to Charlotte (11-1) and No. 1 Xavier (3-0) to finish third.
URI pitcher Brett Palanski was named to the All-Championship Team while infielder Shaun Hagey earned First Team All-Conference honors and Zaneski landed a spot on the Second Team. Foster and closer Tim Boyce were both recognized by the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association as the pair was selected to participate in the 2008 NEIBA All-Star game at Fenway Park.