Frey brothers find success playing summer baseball in Florida

Saturday, July 14, 2018 | 12:45 AM

Sixteen hours to Jupiter … Florida. It might sound like the catchy title to a summer blockbuster movie or even the name of a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, but that’s how long it took for recent Franklin Regional grad Alex Frey, his brother Matt and father Jim to drive straight through to the Sunshine State in pursuit of more baseball, and for Alex, a college scholarship.

“Alex just slept until we got to Charlotte,” said Matt Frey, a 2015 Franklin Regional grad who just finished his sophomore season at Davidson. “We went down in my grandfather’s 2009 beige Hyundai Sonata; it’s Like 70 horsepower. It’s not exactly a (girl) magnet, but it gets us around.”

The plan for Matt and Alex to play summer ball down in Jupiter, Fla., this summer was hatched last fall when the two standouts decided to go south and play together once Alex graduated high school and Matt’s season with the Wildcats was over. Things changed almost immediately once the two dropped their bags in their dorm-style apartment.

“The plan was initially to play in a college league down there and get recruited out of that,” said Alex, who was lightly recruited during high school days.

Matt stayed the course and went off to play in the Collegiate League of Palm Beaches for the Palm Beach Snowbirds, where he has started at nearly every infield position. Matt finished his sophomore campaign at Davidson batting .250 in 36 at-bats, including five RBIs and two homers. Matt mainly filled the designated hitter role this past season.

“If you hit, you play and if you hit well enough they’ll find a spot for you somewhere out there,” he said.

“It’s just so much about the bat. If you hit, you get yourself in the lineup.”

After six games, Matt was hitting .211 in 19 plate appearances. The Snowbirds will play 40 games this season before Matt heads back to the North Carolina campus for the start of fall ball.

The plan for the brothers to play together on the same team this summer quickly got amended once Alex made a spot start for one of the league’s organizers. Coach and league organizer Brian Kaplan saw enough out of Alex to offer him an opportunity to become a part of the FTB (Florida Travel Ball) Rockets. Alex took Kaplan up on his offer and didn’t look back.

“The tournament circuits are nuts, very competitive and everybody there lives for baseball,” Alex said.

Because of an injury that kept Alex out for much of his junior season at Franklin Regional, he didn’t get much attention from college scouts until he went to Florida. He arrived in Florida with zero college offers and in one month’s time has accumulated a handful of scholarship offers. While baseball is his ticket to college, Alex said academics will ultimately determine where he lands.

“I definitely did well enough to attract some attention and performed how I did all year,” Alex said. “I don’t really know where I’m gonna end up yet; everything is up in the air but we’ll see.”

Alex said he intends to take a gap year, like his brother did, before he heads off to college. Alex couldn’t have performed any better from the hill for the Rockets. He finished his stint in Florida with a 0.61 ERA, including 17 strikeouts and a 4-0 record. He even got his fastball to top out at 88 mph.

“I got a better feel for the game playing with and against better competition,” Alex said. “Everyone there was trying to get recruited by schools, and I had to play at a high level to compete with them.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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