Aidan Kane joined one of New Jersey’s top high school teams in mid-season last spring and his impact was felt immediately.
Kane, a 6-3, 185-pound outfielder from Madison, slid into the Delbarton lineup in the No. 5 spot in the batting order and debuted with a 2-for-3, one RBI, one run performance in a 6-1 victory over Parsippany Hills in the Morris County Tournament quarterfinals.
Delbarton (26-3) would go 16-1 after Kane, then a junior, began playing after having to sit out the season’s first 30 days under the NJSIAA transfer rule.
“We won our last 15 games and Aidan obviously played all of those,” said Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel. “He added value to our lineup.”
Kane said, “When I started playing on April 28, coach Shatel put me in the fifth spot in the order. After a week or so of seeing the ball well and hitting well, he moved me up to the third spot.”
Kane will be back for another run at an NJSIAA championship next spring after his recent commitment to play baseball for the University of Delaware.
“I committed on Aug. 2, about a week after I had a good camp at Delaware,” said Kane.
The lefty-hitting Kane batted .404 for the Green Wave, so his impact was felt on a consistent basis but the outfielder’s big moment of the season came in the Non-Public A sectional championship game against Don Bosco Prep. Kane ripped a two-run triple in the bottom of the sixth inning that starter Jack Leiter and reliever Chris Sanzone made stand up in a 2-0 victory.
Delbarton advanced to the Non-Public A championship game where Leiter defeated a talented St. Augustine Prep team, 4-3, as Shawn Rapp delivered the go-ahead single> Rapp also got the last five outs and Anthony Volpe ripped a two-run home run. Leiter is pitching for Vanderbilt, Rapp is playing for North Carolina and Volpe, a first round draft pick, just finished his first season of professional ball with the Yankees. Rapp and Volpe are former Diamond Jacks.
Kane will be one of Delbarton’s team leaders in the spring when the Green Wave chases more championship hardware after the graduation of perhaps its finest senior class.
“Aidan gave us a bat in the lineup that would protect Volpe,” said Shatel. “He was consistent. He had good at bats each and every day. He was the right guy for us to put in the three-hole down the stretch. He had a couple really big hits and played a large part in us advancing against Don Bosco.”
Kane didn’t find baseball as much as baseball found him. Aidan’s maternal grandfather, David Yates, played baseball at the University of Delaware and is, in fact, in the college’s sports hall of fame.
“My grandpa played at Delaware,” said Kane, “They went to the College World Series when he was there and he was drafted. He was the first person I called when I committed. He always wanted me to go there, but he kept it on the down low.”
Yates, an infielder, was drafted in the 10th round by Philadelphia in 1970 and played two years in Low-A ball with Walla Walla. He batted a respectable .284, had an on-base percentage of .390 and drove in 31 runs in 69 career minor league games. At Delaware, Yates batted a stunning .444 in 1969 and posted an excellent .377 career mark from 1968-’70, 13th all-time for the Blue Hens. He had a 22-game hitting streak in 1969 and led the team in HR and RBI in 1970. He still works as a sports agent.
“My grandparents just moved to Wilmington, so they’ll get to see me play,” said Kane. Yates grew up in Delaware.
Kane had a fairly large group of schools to consider throughout the recruiting process before narrowing his choices to Delaware, Dartmouth and Davidson.
“Aidan has really grown into a great baseball player,” said Steve DiTrolio, Diamond Nation’s director of recruiting. “He came into the program at 10 years-old. Seeing him develop over the last seven years was awesome. He is very dedicated and driven and I’m excited to see what he does his senior year and beyond.
Kane has intangibles working in his favor.
“Aidan’s a very focused kid,” said Shatel. “He works extremely hard. I think he can really defend at our level and he will at the college level as well. He’s a college hitter. He’s got the gap-to-gap and he’s got power.”
Kane has taken the fall off from baseball to work on building his body for the coming season.
“I go to a gym in Chatham four days a week,” said Kane, “working two days on my upper body and two days on my lower body and running. It’s not necessarily about getting bigger, but rather getting stronger. People love seeing a high weight, but the type of lifting I’m doing is not for mass, it’s for functionality and getting stronger. I just want to get stronger and faster.”
Shatel agrees: “Aidan’s wiry strong. He’d want to add some strength in his lower half. He’s a pretty big kid, all of 6-3.”
Kane will take with him into his senior high school season and college a wealth of baseball knowledge passed down from his grandfather and imparted by a remarkable group of coaches at Diamond Nation and his high school.
“The coaches at Diamond Nation have done a lot for me, teaching me the game,” said Kane. “I’ve known them since fourth grade. I instantly felt like I was part of a family at Diamond Nation. I’ve met a lot of kids and made a lot of friends for life. It’s crazy that I’m wrapping all those years up now.”
Shatel is recognized as one of the top scholastic coaches in New Jersey.
“Coach Shatel is probably one of the best coaches I’ve played for,” said Kane. “He shows he cares a lot. He works hard, scouting other teams, and he really works on motivation.”
Kane’s stubborn side at the plate will also play well at all levels.
“Aidan very rarely gives up an at bat,” said Shatel. “He managed to have quality at bats all season long. As soon as he became eligible for us he became a tough out. He’s got leadership qualities for sure.”