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Mike Sirota, rated as a high first-round pick, could be Northeastern’s greatest baseball player

Sirota, a 6-foot-3-inch junior, is ranked among the top 11 picks overall in the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft.

Mike Sirota up at bat.
Mike Sirota may have experienced a glimpse of his future as he batted against the Boston Red Sox in Northeastern’s annual spring training game in Florida last month. Photo by Billie Weiss for Northeastern University

Twenty or more Major League Baseball scouts have been attending Mike Sirota’s games this season.

“I’ve noticed,” said Sirota, the Northeastern Huskies’ star center fielder. “But I try not to pay too much attention.”

Sirota, a 6-foot-3-inch junior, is consistently currently rated among the top 11 picks overall for this summer’s MLB Draft, with Baseball America ranking him as the fifth-best prospect.

The highest draft pick in Northeastern history is Carlos Peña, who went No. 10 in 1998. Peña, a Northeastern Hall-of-Famer, became an All-Star and Silver Slugger winner who earned a Gold Glove during his 14-year Major League career.

A quarter-century later, Sirota is the face of Northeastern’s baseball renaissance under coach Mike Glavine. Last season he hit .344 with 18 homers, 54 RBI and 19 stolen bases as the Huskies won a program-record 44 games and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years. 

This year the goal is to build on those successes with another Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) championship — followed by victory in an NCAA regional for the first time. The Huskies have a lot going for them: They were awarded their first preseason Top 25 national ranking based on their quartet of preseason All-Americans who are guided by Sirota, a rare five-tool player who excels in every phase of the game.

Headshot of Mike Sirota in the dugout

Mike Sirota

Center fielder (Junior)

Career stats through 14 games in the 2024 season:

At Bats
Home Runs

“Mike fits right smack-dab in the middle of it all,” Glavine said. “He is The Man.”

But those high expectations don’t come easily. They are like loans that must be paid off. 

“Our team is feeling pressure,” Glavine acknowledged last month after the Huskies had gone 3-3 on a season-opening trip to Arizona and Florida. “I’m telling you by what I’ve been seeing on the field here early, we’re not quite ourselves yet.”

That was about to change.

A five-tool star

Sirota, who grew up in Queens, New York, is a New York Yankees fan for good reason. His great uncle was Whitey Ford, the Hall of Fame pitcher who won six World Series with the Yankees in the 1950s and ’60s.

“I grew up hanging around him and that side of the family a lot,” Sirota said. “I was always over at his house during the summer especially. We were very close.”

Sirota recalled wiffle ball games with the legendary pitcher in his large Long Island backyard. On display in the house were some of Ford’s trophies and awards.

“I don’t think he liked to be too boastful about it though,” Sirota said. “He was a very good guy. He was one of the best, easy going people I’ve ever met.”

Glavine started scouting Sirota as a sophomore shortstop. He quickly became the Huskies’ priority.

“I felt like we were higher on him than other schools,” Glavine said. “He was our biggest recruit. He was the guy we wanted. With Mike we just tried to keep reassuring him that he was our top choice and we really wanted him and we saw the future in him.”

That confidence in his potential was valued by Sirota.

“I always thought that I’d be in the major leagues, even when I was younger,” said Sirota, who as an underrated high school prospect was drafted No. 492 overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Growing up and playing travel ball around a bunch of guys who got a little more recognition than me at the time — it was a motivating thing as well.”

Glavine knew after three weeks of fall workouts that Sirota was going to be starting as a freshman. He hit .326 that season as the Huskies came close to defending their CAA title, losing 7-6 to Hofstra in the 2022 championship game. A fruitful summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League further strengthened Sirota’s confidence.

“He came back that sophomore year and he was absolutely better,” Glavine said. “He learned so much from playing on the Cape. I think his confidence grew again because he proved — maybe not to himself, but to everyone else that he’s one of the best players in the country.”

Last year his five-tool status was revealed — his (1) speed, (2) defensive talent and (3) arm strength to go with his ability to hit (4) with power for (5) a high batting average.

“I could certainly see him being in the pro game hitting 15 to 20-plus home runs from the center field position, which is above average,” Glavine said.

Home runs tend to come naturally for Sirota, who focuses on hitting line drives. “I get into some problems when I try to lift the ball,” Sirota said. 

While he has no apparent weaknesses and is above-average in every area, it is Sirota’s discipline as a line-drive hitter who knows the strike zone that sets him apart.

“The scouts would tell you that his bat-to-ball skills are elite,” Glavine said.

“I’ve always been good at recognizing pitches, recognizing off-speed and I have really good zone control,” Sirota said. “So I try to use that to the best of my ability. I try not to manipulate my approach surrounding the strike zone, just because I’ve always been good at it growing up. 

“You need to use what you’re good at, and you need to make it sort of the main billboard of your ability, your approach … you need to make it your protection in the box, I like to say. When he throws a good pitch and I can just take it, it makes the pitcher uncomfortable.”

Making the most of every pitch is a defining skill of baseball, an everyday sport of small details that add up to big outcomes.

First baseman Tyler MacGregor is typically on deck behind Sirota, the No. 2 hitter in the Huskies’ lineup. 

“If he doesn’t get on with a line drive [on the] first pitch, he’s making that pitcher work,” said MacGregor, who equaled Sirota’s 18 homers last season. “That’s special and I feel like we all try to do that. That’s an identity of our offense — really grinding those pitchers down. We’re usually the underdogs, we’re scrapping up there, we’re trying to win pitches and Mike really embodies that. And his talent obviously allows him to do it at a really high level.”

‘I was concerned’

After Sirota earned third-team All-American status last year, Glavine knew the Huskies had a national star. In this era of widespread player transfers from one school to another, Sirota’s status worried him.

“I was concerned,” Glavine said. “It’s not about trusting him. It’s just human nature. I know how this whole industry is trending and I told him at one point, ‘If other schools are contacting you to leave, I can’t give you what that I’m sure they’re promising you. What I can give you is what we have. 

“‘You know what our staff is like and what our team is like and you know what our expectations are for next year. You don’t have to look over your shoulder and you know you’re going to be starting and playing every day, and there’s a comfort level here with who you are as a person and as a player.’”

Sirota confirmed that Glavine brought up the prospect of him transferring.

“We talked about it in my exit meeting after last year,” Sirota said.

How did Sirota respond?

“I told him I was staying,” Sirota said.

Pressure as a privilege

“He’s our guy and we want to follow him because we know how great of a player and leader he is,” Northeastern second baseman Luke Beckstein said of Sirota. “That’s why we rally around him and try to build him up and keep him going. In the end it keeps everybody going.”

With 27 players returning from last year’s championship team — including preseason All-Americans in outfielder Cam Maldonado, designated hitter Alex Lane, starting pitcher Aiven Cabral and Sirota — to go with a strong cast of transfers and freshmen, the CAA coaches picked Northeastern to win the conference for the third time in four seasons.

With that talent and the recent years of success come preseason rankings and other expectations. Sirota said he was drawn in part by Glavine’s “blue collar” program where everything is earned. But it’s hard to remain the underdog when you’re viewed as a favorite.

“There are 20 to 30 scouts at every game watching Mike and the team take batting practice,” Glavine said. “Can you use that to your advantage? Can you take pressure as a privilege?”

Beckstein had the sense that the Huskies’ reputation was bringing the best out of their opponent during a recent two-day series in Georgia at Mercer College, which won the opener to go 9-1 for the season.

“You could tell they were into it just a little bit more,” Beckstein said. “There was some energy, some chippiness in there.”

The Huskies won Game 2 of the Mercer series and were seeking a doubleheader sweep when they fell behind 7-3 in the fourth inning of the closing game. They resorted to their identity, the grind-it-out approach that defines Sirota. Home runs by MacGregor, Alex Lane and Cam Maldonado tied the game.

Up came Sirota, who was off to an uncharacteristically slow start to the season. He drilled a solo home run to give Northeastern the eighth-inning lead in their 10-9 comeback win. The umpires issued a warning against the Huskies as they celebrated the dramatic timing of Sirota’s first homer of the season.

“He was fired up and screaming, going around the bases,” Beckstein said of Sirota. “I asked one of the umpires why they gave us a warning — was it because we came out of the dugout? He said, ‘No, it’s because Mike was so excited.’ He spiked the baseball bat like a football.”

That dramatic win seemed to change everything for the Huskies (10-4), triggering an ongoing streak of seven wins in eight games and lifting Sirota (.295) from his slow start.

Such moments will be crucial to Sirota’s future in baseball from now on. Expectations, scrutiny and pressure will follow him like an aura.

“Let’s say he does become a first-round pick,” Glavine said. “When he gets to pro ball, he’s going to feel that continued pressure. It’s always going to be there to perform. 

“But he loves baseball, and that’s a separator from him and some other guys. I don’t think he defines himself by all his numbers or success. He doesn’t do it just because he’s talented. He does it because he loves it and he loves getting better at it.”

To love anything is to love being challenged by it.

By the time Sirota and his Huskies reach the postseason, they may be grateful for the expectations, the pressures and the all-in efforts of their opponents. All of that together may help forge them into the champions they dream of becoming.

Ian Thomsen is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at Follow him on X/Twitter @IanatNU.