COMPILED BY ALLAN SIMPSON
In Association with League Managers and Scouts
Official League Website: www.capecodbaseball.org
The intriguing twists and turns that symbolize the unpredictable nature of summer-league competition were evident in the Cape Cod League in 2009.
Most graphic was the championship won by the upstart Bourne Braves, the team’s first in 22 years in the league. The Braves won in convincing fashion, breezing to the Western Division pennant, before handily winning four straight playoff games.
And yet Bourne’s unlikely title run was in danger of not getting off the ground just as the season started, as it lost five key players to USA Baseball’s college national team—catcher Blake Forsythe (Tennessee), third baseman Anthony Rendon (Rice), outfielder Tyler Holt (Florida State), and lefthanders Drew Pomeranz (Mississippi) and Cody Wheeler (Coastal Carolina). Moreover, the team lost three more potential regulars to season-ending injuries.
But the Braves reorganized on the fly, assembled a functional if not somewhat patchwork roster, and got big seasons from unexpected sources. It was the recipe for a spirited run to an improbable championship.
No player was more of a difference-maker for Bourne than first baseman/DH Kyle Roller, who played for the Braves in 2008 and hit an uninspiring .270-2-22. Roller had little intention of even returning to the Cape for a second season, especially after a big junior season at East Carolina, but when he tumbled all the way to the 47th round of the 2009 draft, his fate was sealed.
With Bourne suddenly left with a skeleton roster, the call went out to Roller, and he jumped at the chance to return to the Cape, rather than mull offer a meager bonus offer from the Oakland A’s. He went on to have a monster season, earning league MVP honors in both the regular season and playoffs.
The Braves also caught a break when righthander Alex Wimmers (Ohio State) mysteriously didn’t make Team USA’s final cut, and lefthander Bryan Morgado (Tennessee) balked at signing with the Chicago White Sox after being selected in the third round. They became the team’s two most dependable arms. Between them, they went 4-1, 2.33 with 84 strikeouts in 54 innings.
No Bourne player, though, may have exemplified the overachieving spirit on the roster more than sparkplug second baseman Pierre LePage, who hit .308-0-14, stole 17 bases and was an excellent table-setter in the Braves batting order for the power-hitting Roller. LePage was not only a sparkplug at the top of the lineup, but his constant all-out hustle provided inspiration for the entire team.
For all their contribution to Bourne’s success, neither LePage nor Roller made much of an impression on scouts. On the accompanying list of the Cape Cod League’s top 100 prospects, Roller came in at No. 64 while LePage was overlooked altogether. For that matter, only seven Bourne players cracked the list, the second-lowest total in the 10-team league. Cotuit had the most prospects, 14, and yet the Kettleers were swept, convincingly, by Bourne in the league’ championship series.
The Cape League, which celebrated its 125th year in 2009, has been a popular summer destination for the nation’s elite college talent since the mid-1980s, when the league raised its profile by both aggressively recruiting players from all parts of the country and becoming the first summer league to return to wood bats. Since then, the Cape has only solidified its grip as the top dog in an expanding summer college baseball landscape.
The league’s ability to recruit the cream of the nation’s college crop each summer generally provides a good snapshot of the college talent that will be available in the following year’s draft. On that score, the 2010 draft figures to be top-heavy in college arms and light on impact bats.
The top four prospects in the Cape League in 2009 were pitchers, and it was the general consensus of scouts and the 10 league managers that the talent level of position players was down considerably from past years. There were no hitters in the league like Buster Posey, Yonder Alonso, Gordon Beckham or Jason Castro, all of whom played in the Cape in 2007 and were claimed in the first 10 picks of the 2008 draft.
That a player like Roller, a mere 47th-rounder in the 2009, was the dominant hitter on the Cape spoke to the drop-off in talent—even if he was plenty good enough to spark Bourne to a championship.
FAST FACTSYear League Established: 1885.States Represented in League: Massachusetts.Level of Competition (1-to-4 Scale): 1.No. of Teams in League: 10.Regular-Season Champion (best overall record): Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.Post-Season Champion: Bourne Braves.Teams, PG Crosschecker Summer 16/Final Ranking: No. 2 Bourne Braves, No. 6 Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, No. 11 Cotuit Kettleers, No. 12 Orleans Firebirds.No. 1 Prospect, 2008 (per PG Crosschecker): Grant Green, ss, Chatham A’s (Southern California; Padres ’09, first round).First 2008 Player Selected, 2009 Draft: Dustin Ackley, of, Harwich Mariners (North Carolina; Mariners, first round).Most Valuable Player: Kyle Roller, 1b-dh, Bourne Braves.Most Outstanding Pitcher: Chris Sale, lhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.Top Prospect (as selected by league): Todd Cunningham, of, Falmouth Commodores.
BATTING LEADERSBatting Average: Todd Cunningham, of, Falmouth Commodores (.378).Slugging Percentage: Kyle Roller, 1b-dh, Bourne Braves (.644).On-Base Average: Todd Cunningham, of, Falmouth Commodores (.458).Home Runs: Kyle Roller, 1b-dh, Bourne Braves (10).RBIs: Kyle Roller, 1b-dh, Bourne Braves (33).Stolen Bases: Chris Bisson, ss-3b, Cotuit Kettleers (36).
PITCHING LEADERSWins: Several tied at 4.ERA: Jake Buchanan, rhp, Cotuit Kettleers (0.84).Saves: Tyler Burgoon, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (12).Strikeouts: Chris Sale, lhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (57).
BEST TOOLS (Players in Top 100 only)Best Athlete: 1. Zach Cone, of, Cotuit. 2. Brett Eibner, of-rhp, Wareham. 3. Leon Landry, of, Harwich. 4. Chris Bisson, inf, Cotuit. 5. Austin Wates, of, Yarmouth-Dennis.Best Hitter: 1. Zach Cox, 3b, Cotuit. 2. Jedd Gyorko, 3b, Brewster. 3. Cody Hawn, 1b, Hyannis. 4. Kyle Roller, 1b, Bourne. 5. Mickey Wiswall, 1b-3b, Yarmouth-Dennis.Best Power: 1. Hunter Morris, 1b, Falmouth. 2. Cameron Rupp, c, Cotuit. 3. Brett Eibner, of-rhp, Wareham. 4. Kevin Keyes, of, Cotuit. 5. Brian Fletcher, of, Falmouth.Fastest Base Runner: 1. Gary Brown, of, Orleans. 2. Trent Mummey, of, Harwich. 3. Chris Bisson, inf, Cotuit.Best Base Runner: 1. Chris Bisson, inf, Cotuit. 2. Chris Woodward, of-3b, Bourne. 3. Whit Merrifield, of, Chatham.Best Defensive Player: Catcher—Micah Gibbs, Yarmouth-Dennis. Infield—1. Josh Rutledge, ss, Yarmouth-Dennis. 2. Jason Esposito, 3b, Falmouth. 3. Michael Olt, 3b, Orkeans. Outfield—1. Leon Landry, Harwich. 2. Trent Mummey, Harwich. 3. Jarrett Parker, Brewster.Best Arm: Catcher—Cameron Rupp, Cotuit. Infield—1. Devin Lohman, ss, Orleans. 2. Derek Dietrich, ss, Wareham. 3. Harold Martinez, 3b, Brewster.Best Velocity: 1. Jesse Hahn, rhp, Chatham. 2. Tommy Kahnle, rhp, Orleans. 3. Cecil Tanner, rhp, Falmouth. 4. Brandon Workman, rhp, Wareham. 5. Kevin Munson, rhp, Bourne.Best Breaking Ball: 1. Kyle Blair, rhp, Brewster. 2. Rob Rasmussen, lhp, Orleans. 3. Patrick Cooper, rhp, Falmouth. 4. Kevin Rhoderick, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis. 5. Kyle Winkler, rhp, Falmouth.Best Changeup: 1. Taylor Wall, lhp, Falmouth. 2. Chad Bell, lhp, Cotuit. 3. Alex Wimmers, rhp, Bourne.Best Command: 1. Russell Brewer, rhp, Chatham. 2. Alex Wimmers, rhp, Bourne. 3. Jake Buchanan, rhp, Cotuit. 4. Josh Sale, lhp, Yarmouth-Dennis. 5. Daniel Tillman, rhp, Cotuit.
TOP 100 PROSPECTS