Play Baseball with the Pros

The Rhode Island Baseball Institute churns out professional players by the dozens.
Lisa Purcell.

Young athletes learn the fundamentals of baseball on home turf at the Rhode Island Baseball Institute. Founded in 1992 by former Minor League Baseball players John Mello (Montreal Expos) and Dave Stenhouse Jr. (Toronto Blue Jays), the Warwick facility is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. “We like to help kids improve at any stage in their careers,” says Stenhouse Jr. “It’s geared toward teaching skills and enjoying the game, while older kids get more technical instruction.”

With 11,000 square feet of batting cages, pitching mounds and weight training stations, players can participate in lessons particular to their position. Stenhouse Jr., a former catcher, trains prospective backstops on techniques such as receiving, blocking and throwing, while his father, Dave Stenhouse Sr. — a former Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher for the Washington Senators — is one of the staff’s pitching consultants. Hitting and fielding lessons from Mello are available for all other positions. “It’s a way for all of us to keep our hands in the game,” Stenhouse Jr. says. “If a kid improves a little bit, that’s enough for us.”

The institute has produced thirty-four professional baseball players. The most notable of the bunch are Providence natives Chris Iannetta, starting catcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Jeff Beliveau of the Toronto Blue Jays, who continue to work out at the facility in the off-season and return to do classes and attend functions. Even in the smallest state, Rhode Island Baseball Institute churns out elite athletes striving for baseball’s biggest stage.