The Long Island Whalers held their third annual National Letter of Intent Signing Event on Wednesday, November 18, 2015. The ceremony was held at the home of the Whalers, the Baseball Player Academy in Jericho, New York.
A National Letter of Intent is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI member institution. The colleges and universities typically compete in Division I and Division II athletics, but there are DIII member schools as well. Although frequently referred to as the NLI Signing Day, the signing periods are open at least a week. If a student-athlete is offered an NLI, then he or she has also been offered aid (in the form of a scholarship) because of their athletic abilities.
Their coach long time coach Brandon Kurz provided some insight on each player and had this to offer about the team:
"Along with Matt Lemanczyk, I had the honor of coaching one of the strongest Long Island Whalers teams ever fielded.
"This team was made up of solid young men with more heart and guts than any team I've ever coached. I'd be willing to bet that these long time Whalers will be very successful collegiate baseball players as well as outstanding students. My hat is off to these guys. Congratulations for all that they've accomplished. Their best days are in front of them. We're looking forward to seeing the players grow in the North Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League next summer.
Dennys Del Los Santos, Lynbrook HS, Lynbrook, Concordia College (NY)
"Dennis nailed down the starting Whalers catching position in 2014. Dennis is one of the most disciplined hitters I've ever seen. His ability to get on base was tremendous. Dennis was an imposing hitter who would foul a pitcher off until he would either get a base hit, a walk, or hit by a pitch. Dennis was equally tough behind the plate. He has caught more innings than any other Whalers catcher from 2014 to 2016. Concordia is getting a wonderful kid, student, and baseball player. Looking forward to catching a game or two with his mom Blanca and his father Martin."
Kyle Martin, Oceanside HS, Oceanside, Fordham University
"Kyle is the most consistent pitcher I've ever had the honor of coaching. Kyle put the team on his shoulders and helped us beat so many quality teams. His competitiveness set him apart from everyone. His 90 mph fastball, lethal slider, and outstanding control makes him completely dominant on the mound. He wants the ball in every big spot and always delivers. Kyle is also one of the most dynamic position players I've come across. He can hit, field, and he is an absolute terror on the bases. Kyle and his family set a great example of what we want in the Whalers organization. Their loyalty is valued and appreciated by all involved. Looking forward to watching his games at Fordham with Laura and Matt."
Alvin Melendez, Cardozo HS, Fordham University
"Alvin is the most consistent offensive player I've ever coached or even seen at his age level. He is a proven power hitter and he is especially dangerous in the clutch. Alvin is a five tool player and may be the best position player prospect ever to put on a Whalers uniform. He is also an ace on the mound, featuring a fastball in the mid to high 80's and command of three other pitches. Fordham made a great decision by awarding Alvin a scholarship to play for them. He is an outstanding young man who comes from a wonderful family. I'd like to thanks Nestor and Evelyn for all of their support through the years. Congrats to Alvin!"
Jake Saltzman, Plainview JFK HS, Plainview, Molloy College
"Jake has been in the Whalers longer than any other player on this team. He silently went about his business, while gaining the trust of his teammates and coaches. He was a backbone on this team for six years. Jake can beat you with his bat, his speed, and his glove. He had the ability to play all three outfield positions. His will to win is his most notable attribute. I can remember countless times where Jake would make a clutch catch on a ball driven to a deep gap or Jake stealing a base in the most critical situations. Molloy College made a great decision by bringing a winner to their school. Jake will always be a winner in my book and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him. Many thanks to Elise and Rich for their loyalty over the years."
Sam Vega Fox, St Francis Prep, LIU Brooklyn
"Sam joined the Whalers in 2015. He has one of the sweetest swings I've ever seen and once he decided he was going to become a more aggressive hitter, he became one of the most dominant offensive players in Whalers history. The ball comes off Sam's bat hard and fast. He has a huge power swing that he really just starting to channel. He's going to get even better! LIU Brooklyn made a great choice in bringing Sam and his family (Mom Yolanda and Dad Arnie) to their school. He will be a great student, teammate and baseball player for the next four years."
Nick Vlahakis, Oceanside, Oceanside, St Joseph's Brooklyn
"When Nick joined the Whalers, I saw a scrappy player that had guts. Soon after he joined he became one of the most consistent players on the team. He could play all three outfield positions. He could beat you with a bunt base hit, a line drive, or a double down the line. Nick could steal a base and beat you with his baseball instincts. Nick's most special attribute is his competitiveness. He will never let you tell him what he is capable of. Gonna miss coaching Nick and seeing Barbara and Nick Sr. at the games. The Whalers was lucky to have the Vlahakis family in the organization. Looking forward to seeing what he can do at St. Joseph's."
Brian Weissert, Bay Shore HS, Bay Shore, Fordham University
"Brian and his brother Greg have been in the Whalers family since 2008. Brian is one of the most popular players to ever wear the uniform. His ability to win start after start set him apart from other pitchers in the Whalers program. He demonstrated ultimate poise, outstanding ability, and unlimited guts. His fastball has been clocked in the mid 80's and he has one of the top curveballs on the island. Brian was also a force in the field. He played all four infield positions for us and always performed under pressure. The future is bright for Brian at Fordham. His best days are in front of him. I'm looking forward to watching him pitch in college. All the best to Brian and Greg and their parents Liz and Ray."
Note: Austin Takvor, John Locurto, Dan Heller, and Jake Mulham are all expected to sign soon. All have battled injuries. Once they sign, this article will be updated. They were all a major part of the reason this team was so successful over the past few seasons.
A student-athlete who receives an NLI is guaranteed a scholarship and an opportunity to represent their college or university. It is an honor and as such, many high school seniors look forward to this day. This particular event was created by Kieran Black, head of college placement for the Whalers.
"College placement has always been the backbone of our organization,” said Black. “Having one night a year where the parents, players, and coaches can celebrate the end of this process is an awesome experience. As a coach to see these players take the 90 foot field for the first time, and then years later watch them sign their collegiate Letters of Intent is so gratifying. It certainly makes the grind of the years well worth it."