In recent years, college athletics has experienced numerous changes. The emergence of NIL and the rise in popularity of the transfer portal have made it difficult for mid-major programs to hold onto their star players.
It’s now common to see star mid-major athletes transfer to the Power Five level. But when a player remains loyal to his respective school, it makes for a special storyline.
Mike Sirota thrived in his first two years at Northeastern to develop into one of the top players in the country. He’s a premium player with tons of potential. He could play at any program in the country but takes pride in the fact that he has developed into one of the best hitters in the country while playing at a mid-major program.
“Loyalty has been something that has been a part of me since I can remember,” Sirota said. “Coach (Mike) Glavine gave me an opportunity to come play for him at Northeastern, and I don’t think it would be very loyal for me to turn my back on him, especially for one of the bigger years we can have as a team overall.
“Coming from a mid-major school gives you a chip on your shoulder and gives you another reason to go those extra reps and lifts. It’s part of my personality and our team’s culture, and that is what makes us great.”
Sirota is entering his junior season at Northeastern and has the chance to become the program’s first first-round pick since right-handed pitcher Adam Ottavino in 2006. Scouts rave about Sirota’s intriguing toolset, primarily his hit tool and ability to play center field long-term.
If Sirota can have a strong season, he will rival Carlos Pena for the highest draft pick in program history. Pena was the 10th overall pick in the 1996 draft.
“Last year was more pressure for me than this year,” Sirota said. “At this point last year, I felt a lot more pressure because of the pressure of wanting to be recognized on the national level. But now, I have gotten a little more national recognition for my ability, which was the hardest thing coming from a mid-major school. Now that I have that recognition, I’m not feeling any sort of pressure right now.”
Sirota is a 6-foot-3, 189-pound right-handed hitting center fielder known for his five-tool potential. He uses quick hands and a quality approach to drive the ball to all parts of the field. He impacts the baseball and shows above-average raw power.
Sirota is a selective hitter who tends to avoid swinging through pitches outside the strike zone.
“I’m a patient hitter,” Sirota said. “That opens up the opportunity to get mistakes from the pitcher. I think that, and a combination of being willing to adjust each at-bat and pitcher to pitcher is key for me.”
Defensively, Sirota has the tools to remain in center field long-term. Sirota is a quality defensive player with above-average speed. He uses crisp routes, quality instincts and speed to cover plenty of ground in center field. He also has solid arm strength.
Sirota has been key to Northeastern’s success over the last two years. He hit .326 with 14 doubles, four home runs, 20 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases in 141 at-bats during his freshman year in 2022. He took a notable step forward last year, batting .346 with nine doubles, four triples, 18 home runs, 54 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 214 at-bats.
Northeastern will be hoping for similar production this spring. The Huskies qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years last year, finishing the season with a 44-14 record. It marked the program’s first-ever 40-win season.
This season, the Huskies are determined to win an NCAA Tournament Regional. They have made it to the tournament 10 times in program history, advancing out of the regional once when they made a College World Series appearance in 1966.
“The team this year, talent-wise, is the best I have seen here so far,” Sirota said. “The culture is amazing, too. Our goal is to win a super regional and go on and keep playing baseball for as long as we can. We didn’t really lose anyone from last year’s team, so it’s looking really good for us.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for nine years. He has interviewed 518 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.