Trumbull's Ray Leonzi to play baseball at Fairfield

Trumbull High's Ray Leonzi will play for coach Bill Currier's Fairfield University baseball team.

Trumbull High's Ray Leonzi will play for coach Bill Currier's Fairfield University baseball team.

Trumbull Athletics / Contributed photo

College teams earmark athletes that get bigger, faster and stronger during their high school seasons and beyond. Ray Leonzi, a left-handed hitting outfielder from Trumbull High, has fulfilled that sought-after target set by the Fairfield University baseball program and signed to play for head coach Bill Currier.

“When you step on campus you are playing with 21, 22, 23-year-olds, you are coming in as a 17-18-year-old, and that is the biggest gap for new players,” said Brian Fay, an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Currier. “Guys that are passionate about it, get into the weight room and get bigger, faster, stronger before they step on campus have a huge advantage.”

Leonzi didn’t have a problem filling that requirement, upping his weight by 15 pounds to remake his 5-foot-9 frame into a toned 165 pounds.

“Especially this offseason with COVID and not having games, I’ve been able to into the weight room more and get my strength up,” Leonzi said. “I’d work out at least four times a week to get ready for my last high school season and then college. I want to be the best player I can be.”

Leonzi and Fairfield first became acquainted the spring of his sophomore year. Then, after he attended a showcase in August of 2019, he committed to join the Stags, who play in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with 10 other Division I schools.

Currier, entering his eighth season, has led Fairfield to its first-ever MAAC Tournament championship, two regular season titles, and four 30-win campaigns, including a program record 35 in 2019.

“I’m excited to be a Stag next fall. Coach Currier is a great coach leading a great program. I’m excited to work with Coach Fay and meet the rest of the team. It was nice to commit 8 months before COVID,” Leonzi said.

Fay said of Leonzi: “On the field, he is athletic, he has speed. It looks like he been cruising it in the weight room and has put on some good weight. It’s all about training and conditioning. I know Ray has been working his tail off and we are hoping he can come in and compete for a position right away.”

Leonzi, whose mom (Angela) went to Fairfield, had free rein to choose which college to attend.

“My parents let me make the decision and I think it is the perfect fit,” Leonzi said. “It’s not only for baseball, but they have my major (school of business/finance) and a great campus. As long as I can remember I was holding a baseball bat and playing baseball with my dad (Ray).”

Leonzi entered Trumbull as a highly touted athletic outfielder, according to Trumbull head baseball coach Phil Pacelli.

“Ray saw some varsity time as a freshman and assumed a starting role as a sophomore,” Pacelli said. “He is a natural athlete with the speed and agility needed to excel as a top defensive outfielder. As our center fielder, there aren’t too many baseballs he cannot get to. At the plate, Ray is a selective, disciplined contact hitter who is not afraid to take a walk but knows when time is right to be aggressive.”

Balancing act

An ability to balance books and baseball wasn’t lost on Fay when recruiting Leonzi.

“Speaking on Ray’s character, he is on level most high school kids are not. He is a two-sport captain (football, baseball), National Honor Society, so it is no surprise that we think he has the leadership skills to fit in with our culture,” Fay said.

Leonzi said: “I’ve always found time to do be ready for all the tests and quizzes the next day. School comes first. If I have option to go hitting for an extra hour or prepare for a test, I’m going to get the schoolwork done. In your life, you can’t focus on one thing too much and another too little.”

Leonzi had high hopes for his junior year before COVID-19 shut spring sports down

“We were preparing about twice a week I’d say for 2 to 3 months right after school,” he said. “We would go to D-BAT in Trumbull and hit for one hour to an hour and a half to get ready for the season. The chemistry was through the roof, we were excited and then couldn’t wait to go out on the field and compete. I think I can speak for all our seniors we want this season extra bad. We thought we had a good chance last year and this year we are ready to bring it home.”

Pacelli said of Leonzi: “He has a high baseball IQ which is a huge asset to any team. Ray goes about things the right way and his “lead by example” style is effective. Despite losing the 2020 high school season due to the pandemic, Fairfield saw enough of Ray’s skills to make him a Stag. I know he will shine on Alumni Diamond and I know that his family is thrilled that he will be playing close to home.”

Spring of 2021

Fairfield got a good head start on the class of 2021 before the pandemic struck. Coaches were able to watch 5 of the 7 recruits play in person. They will be relying mostly on video and hearing what high school and travel coaches have to say for the class of 2022.

“Everything we do from a defensive standpoint here at Fairfield is that we look for athletes,” Fay said. “We want guys that can play multiple positions. I would expect Ray to come here for his first fall and work out in all three outfield positions and see where his bat takes him. I think one of the reasons that everyone here is high on Ray is that he can play multiple positions and we think his bat is going to play out.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354