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Summer Collegiate  | Rankings  | 10/15/2014

Cape Cod prospect reports

Frankie Piliere     
Photo: Cape Cod League

Official League Website:
www.capecodbaseball.org
2014 summer collegiate top prospect index
Cape Cod League top prospect list

In what seems to be an evolving tradition, the discussion among scouts on Cape Cod by mid-July usually turns to the question “is the Cape League down this year?” The answer to that question isn’t always easy to answer. This year, in some ways, it was a simple answer. What the Cape Cod League lacked in top end, transcendent level talent like Jeff Hoffman, Sean Manaea, or Kyle Schwarber, it more than made up for in a relentless amount of depth.

There are realities that need to be accepted in college baseball now - namely the reality that because of the way the MLB Draft slotting system is now set up, much of the premium talent is being signed to professional contracts before ever having the chance to reach the college ranks. In other words, at least at this moment, the talent pool of players we’d think of as generational or game changing talent is thinner than it has been in recent years. And, there are fewer Kris Bryants or Kevin Gausmans on the horizon.

All this really means, though, is that those in charge of building Cape Cod League rosters are working that much harder to keep the talent flowing. That often means revolving door rosters, as more players arrive late, head home early, or both. Over 400 players played on the Cape (a 10 team league) in 2014, all for varying periods time. And, that number isn’t likely to decrease in 2015.

Once again, aside from the players selected for the Collegiate National Team, the Cape Cod League was home to far and away the best crop of talent the summer collegiate landscape has to offer. And, if you looked close enough, in many ways the sheer depth of player who have top five round type talent was as impressive or more impressive than it has ever been. In an unofficial tally, over 50 pitchers topped out at 93 mph or better with their fastballs. That’s the number that makes the Cape Cod League what it is, and the type of number the league should hang their hat on.


Year established:
1885
States represented: Massachusetts
No. of teams: 10 (10 in 2012)
Best overall record: EAST– Harwich Mariners (26-16). WEST– Bourne Braves (28-15)
Post-Season Champion: Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox
No. 1 Prospect, 2013: Jeff Hoffman, rhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks (East Carolina)
First 2013 Player Selected, 2014 Draft: Kyle Schwarber, c, Wareham Gatemen (Indiana; Cubs/1st round, 4th overall)

Most Valuable Player:
Kevin Newman, ss, Falmouth Commodores (Arizona)
Outstanding Pitcher: Kolton Mahoney, rhp, Orleans Firebirds (Brigham Young)
Top Prospect (as selected by league): Phil Bickford, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (Southern Nevada)

BATTING LEADERS

Batting Average:
Kevin Newman, ss, Falmouth Commodores (.380)
Slugging Percentage: Gio Brusa, of, Brewster Whitecaps (.545)
On-Base Percentage: Billy Fleming, 2b, Bourne Braves (.459)
Home Runs: Chris Shaw, of/1b, Chatham Anglers (8)
RBI: Conner Hale, of, Falmouth Commodores (38)
Stolen Bases: Andrew Stevenson, of, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (21)

PITCHING LEADERS

Wins:
Kevin McCanna, rhp, Falmouth Commodores (6)
ERA: Adam Whitt, rhp, Cotuit Kettleers (1.00)
Saves: Phil Bickford, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (8)
Strikeouts: Marc Brakeman, rhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; Kolton Mahoney, rhp, Orleans Firebirds; Matt Hall, lhp, Falmouth Commodores (47)

BEST TOOLS

Best Athlete:
1. Steven Duggar, of, Falmouth Duggar; 2. Richie Martin, ss, Bourne Braves; 3. Mark Laird, of, Bourne Braves; 4. Joe McCarthy, of, Harwich Mariners; 5. Bradon Bishop, of, Brewster Whitecaps; 6. Corey Ray, of, Wareham Gatemen; 7. Stephen Wrenn, of, Bourne Braves; 8. Jose Cuas, 3b, Wareham Gatemen; 9. Harrison Bader, of, Bourne Braves; 10. Kyri Washington, of, Wareham Gatemen

Best Hitter:
1. Ian Happ, of, Harwich Mariners; 2. Gio Brusa, of, Brewster Whitecaps; 3. Andrew Stevenson, of, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 4. Christin Stewart, of, Orleans Firebirds; 5. Kevin Newman, ss, Falmouth Commodores; 6. Donnie DeWees Jr., Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 7. Mikey White, ss, Brewster Whitecaps; 8. Travis Maezes, 3b, Brewster Whitecaps; 9. Joe McCarthy, of, Harwich Mariners; 10. David Thompson, 3b/1b, Orleans Firebirds

Best Power:
1. Chris Shaw, of/1b, Chatham Anglers; 2. Christin Stewart, of, Orleans Firebirds; 3. Kyri Washington, of, Wareham Gatemen; 4. Bobby Dalbec, if, Orleans Firebirds; 5. Carl Wise, 1b, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 6. John Norwood, of, Cotuit Kettleers; 7. Jose Cuas, 3b, Wareham Gatemen; 8. Luke Lowery, c/1b, Brewster Whitecaps; 9. R.J. Ybarra, c, Orleans Firebirds; 10. Shaun Chase, c, Falmouth Commodores

Fastest Base Runner:
1. Cam Gibson, of, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 2. Steven Duggar, of, Falmouth Commodores; 3. Mark Laird, of, Bourne Braves; 4. Ben DeLuzio, if, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 5. Scott Kingery, of, Brewster Whitecaps; 6. Stephen Wrenn, of, Bourne Braves; 7. Bradon Bishop, of, Brewster Whitecaps; 8. Kyle Survance, of, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 9. Harrison Bader, of, Bourne Braves; 10. Errol Robinson, ss, Wareham Gatemen

Best Defensive Player:
CATCHER - Taylor Ward, c, Orleans Firebirds
INFIELDER- David Fletcher, ss, Orleans Firebirds
OUTFIELDER- Andrew Stevenson, of, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox

Best Arm:
CATCHER - Taylor Ward, Orleans Firebirds
INFIELDER- Drew Jackson, ss, Cotuit Kettleers
OUTFIELDER- Steven Duggar, Falmouth Commodores

Best Velocity:
1. Zack Burdi, rhp, Chatham Anglers; 2. Josh Staumont, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 3. Phil Bickford, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 4. Kyle Cody, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 5. Tyler Jay, lhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 6. Cody Ponce, rhp, Brewster Whitecaps; 7. Ian Gibaut, rhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 8. Seth McGarry, rhp, Harwich Mariners; 9. Kyle Wilcox; 10. Reagan Bazar, rhp, Cotuit Kettleers

Best Breaking Ball/Off-Speed:

CURVEBALL
- 1. Alex Young, lhp, Falmouth Commodores; 2. Walker Buehler, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 3. Garrett Williams, lhp, Chatham Anglers; 4. Phil Bickford, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 5. Cody Poteet, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 6. Drake Owenby, lhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 7. Kyle Davis, rhp, Chatham Anglers; 8. Jake Drossner, lhp, Harwich Mariners; 9. Jared Poche, lhp, Harwich Mariners 10. Kevin Mooney, rhp, Falmouth Commodores
SLIDER - 1. Cody Ponce, rhp, Brewster Whitecaps; 2. Jordan Minch, lhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 3. Hayden Stone, rhp, Orleans Firebirds; 4. Seth McGarry, rhp, Harwich Mariners; 5. Jon Harris, rhp, Harwich Mariners; 6. Kyle Cody, rhp, Wareham Gatemen; 7. Ryan Perez, lhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 8. Walker Buehler, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 9. Alex Young, lhp, Falmouth Commodores; 10. Cody Poteet, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox
CHANGEUP - 1. Marc Brakeman, rhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 2. Brock Hartson, rhp, Wareham Gatemen; 3. Jacob Cronenworth, rhp, Orleans Firebirds; 4. Kevin Duchene, lhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 5. Brett Lilek, lhp, Orleans Firebirds; 6. Nick Deeg, lhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 7. Blake Hickman, rhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks; 8. Walker Buehler, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 9. Ryan Kellogg, lhp, Bourne Braves; 10. Cody Poteet, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox

Best Command:
1. Kevin Duchene, lhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 2. Walker Buehler, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 3. Justin Jacome, lhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox; 4. Jared Poche, lhp, Harwich Mariners; 5. Travis Bergen, lhp, Bourne Braves; 6. Kevin McCanna, rhp, Falmouth Commodores; 7. Matt Hall, lhp, Falmouth Commodores; 8. Ryan Kellogg, lhp, Bourne Braves; 9. Alex Young, lhp, Falmouth Commodores; 10. Trent Thornton, rhp, Orleans Firebirds


TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Walker Buehler, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (Vanderbilt/JR in 2015)
Like any classic showman would, Walker Buehler knew how to close the curtain on his outstanding summer on the Cape. Buehler briefly left the Y-D Red Sox in July, as he was called upon to pitch for the Collegiate National Team, but when he returned, he looked even better than before he’d left and he served as the catalyst in Y-D’s championship run. Following a Cape regular season in which he posted 1.35 ERA over three appearances, Buehler took things to another level in playoff action. Over two starts, including game one of the championship series, Buehler tossed 15 1/3 scoreless frames, struck out 13, and walked only two batters. Make no mistake, Buehler was strong during his regular season Cape outings, but until these outings he hadn’t looked like the clear cut top prospect in the league. But, following the playoff outings, there was zero doubt. The unfortunate thing for Buehler is that all the scouts who invade the Cape in July had cleared out long before his August 14th outing in the championship series. And, that particular game was as a masterful a performance as you’ll ever see at the college level - a game in which Buehler had four above average pitches completely under his command. He was working consistently at 92-96 mph with command to both sides of the plate and bat breaking life. His two breaking balls, which blended together at times in his early outings, were now separately flashing plus action. He has superb feel for his 77-80 mph 12-to-6 curveball, and his 81-85 mph slider is his swing and miss offering that he can back foot against lefties and sweep away from righties. His 83-86 mph changeup also graded as a 50 to 55 offering and he commanded it very well throughout the summer. The slender Buehler also has a smooth, fast arm action and he stays on top of the ball very well. The rhythm, tempo, and repeatability is as good as any college pitcher in the nation. This is an arm that shouldn’t get out of the top ten or fifteen picks come June.

2. Cody Ponce, rhp, Brewster Whitecaps (Cal Poly Pomona/JR in 2015)
The Cape Cod League All-Star game served as a cherry on top of a breakout summer for Cody Ponce, as he showed flashes of absolutely brilliance throughout his summer, but in this game put all the separate pieces together to form a pitching prospect that some scouts pulled out Roger Clemens comparisons for. Ponce attacked hitters with a 93-96 mph fastball in his All-Star outing, and showed the wipeout, plus slider he had used only sparingly at times throughout the summer. For much of the summer, it really did depend when you saw Ponce when it comes to just what your evaluation was of him. He didn’t always show that plus 85-89 mph slider that he broke out in a big way in the All-Star game, and his 79-82 mph curveball flashed big plus 11-5 depth in some games, but didn’t show up quite as sharp in others. His solid-average changeup was a constant for him at 81-83 with late fading action, however. But, if nothing else, Ponce proved he has different gears he is capable of reaching for. In one particular mid-season performance, the 6-foot-5 righty was living at 91-93 mph - that is until he got in trouble. With runners on, he threw two 96 mph fastballs, followed by a 97 mph fastball to finish off a dangerous Orleans hitter in Bobby Dalbec. In other words, this is an arm who has an idea on pacing himself and holding some extra bullets in reserve. Ponce is going to have to improve his command consistency and find ways to bring the entirety of that four pitch arsenal with him to the mound everyday, but his size, easy righty arm and potential for three plus offerings make him a potential frontline starter if things break right. At worst, he has an attack mode mentality, the demeanor, and clearly the electric stuff to pitch at the end of games. We may just be seeing him scratch the surface of his ability.

3. Phil Bickford, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (Southern Nevada/SO in 2015)
In a lot of ways, Phil Bickford’s monster summer snuck up on people. He began the summer as one of Yarmouth-Dennis’ starters, but was moved to the bullpen when the team knew they were losing Tyler Jay and Dillon Tate to Team USA. Bickford’s velocity had been down around 90-91 mph in the spring, and when the summer began he was living around 91-93 and didn’t quite have his command. But, as he was handed the closer’s role, a couple outings in it was rather clear he was not only relishing the role but it was simply making him a better pitcher. The long, lean 6-foot-4 righthander saw his velocity slowly build until he was living consistently at 93-96 mph and topping upwards of 97 mph. Bickford was developing a presence on the mound, stalking around the hill and challenging hitters with elevated fastballs. Just ask one of the league’s best hitters, Chris Shaw who pointed out “he was the hardest to hit I thought, and you knew a fastball was coming.” That, in a nutshell, is exactly what makes Bickford a potentially special next level player. He pitched entire outings in his closer’s role without throwing a breaking ball, and still missed bats at an exceptional rate. When you can make elite hitters miss on fastballs in fastball counts, you have a rare gift. And, the worse news for hitters is that Bickford slowly developed more confidence in his breaking ball, which by summer’s end was a true plus offering at 80-82 mph. Bickford refers to it as a slider, but it has such outstanding depth, that you could say it has characteristics of a hard, very late breaking curveball. Given his role, a changeup wasn’t a necessity so how that pitch develops will be a key, but Bickford’s ability to pitch primarily with the fastball, flash above average command, and pick his spots intelligently with his breaking ball - that is sure to make him an electrifying total package at the next level. All the ingredients are there for him to be a starting pitching, including a clean arm action, but it’s also nice to know he seems to have a Goose Gossage-like presence and mentality to potentially close as well.

4. Kyle Cody, rhp, Wareham Gatemen (Kentucky/JR in 2015)
During the early part of the summer, and when he was at his best, Cody may have had the strongest case for being the league’s top pitching prospect. The towering 6-foot-7 righty stumbled out of the gate in his first two starts, but then followed that up with a string of outstanding outings in a row. Armed with a low effort, downhill 92-96 mph fastball, Cody started doing a much better job of of pounding the lower quadrants of the zone with heavy life. But, his ability to mix and spot his 84-86 mph changeup was likely the biggest difference maker. He didn’t throw quite as many of his above average 82-84 mph sliders (which actually have more of a curveball break), and his changeup gave him a real weapon against lefthanded batters. For that period of time, he was as a complete a package as a scout could ask for his. He scuffled down the stretch on the Cape, giving some scouts who saw him then some pause, but if he comes out strong again in the spring, his mid-summer hot streak will be remembered. As with most tall pitchers, repeating his mechanics will be key.

5. Ian Happ, of, Harwich Mariners (Cincinnati/JR in 2015)
Happ entered the summer with high expectations placed on his shoulders, following what was an eye opening summer on the Cape in 2013. And, for awhile, he was solid but perhaps not as eye popping as some expected. In some ways, he may have been a victim of his own 2013 success, which seemed to shadow him for awhile. But, over the last couple weeks of the Cape League season, Happ took off in a big way and begun to look like a potential first round selection again. He began driving the ball to all fields from both sides of the plate, and showed off particularly impressive opposite field pop from the left side. His plus speed and athleticism are also big difference makers. The question is going to be what position he plays. His speed and above average arm is more than enough to give him a chance to play center field, but he could present a fascinating offensive profile if he can prove his hands play consistently enough at second base. Very quietly, Happy hit a robust .329 for Harwich, slugging four home runs and 12 doubles along the way. He also swiped eight bases. Ran a 6.53 60-yard dash.

6. Richie Martin, ss, Bourne Braves (Florida/JR in 2015)
There are many players, particularly hitters, who come to the Cape as freshman and struggle mightily. Martin was one of those players last summer, looking lost at times offensively. That couldn’t be further from the case this summer, however, as Martin quickly emerged as one of the league’s elite players. He showed good pull side power, including some home run thump, and was easily among the most athletic players on the Cape. His actions at shortstop have been sound and lively, although he’s going to have to be more consistent simply on the routine plays. He’s also a plus runner with the ability to change the game on the base paths. In a year where the scouting community is going to be thirsting for tools at premium positions, Martin has an enormous opportunity to fill the void if he continues to thrive offensively in the spring of 2015. His combination of bat speed, speed, and defensive value will be difficult to top in college baseball. Ran a 6.50 60-yard dash. H-1st: 4.20

7. Alex Young, lhp, Falmouth Commodores (TCU/JR in 2015)
It was a summer of answering some major questions for Alex Young. Not only did he prove he could perform in a starting role, but he answered very loudly that he could be dominant there. The owner of arguably the league’s best breaking ball, Young technically throws both a slider and a curveball, something that has gone overlooked by many observers. The curveball is a true hammer at 81-83 mph, showing hard, late action and outstanding depth for a curveball at that velocity. He’ll also throw a true slider at 82-84, a pitch that flashes 65 potential on the 20-80 scale and can be “back-footed” against righthanded batters. Young’s fastball lived mostly in the 89-92 mph range over the summer, touching as high as 93. But, it’s his command of the breaking ball, as fell as a late fading changeup in the low 80s, that make him one of the most well-rounded pitching prospects in the college ranks right now. He unquestionably has the four pitch arsenal to start, but he’ll need to continue to prove his up tempo delivery can translate there.

8. Marcus Brakeman, rhp, Hyannis Harbor Hawks (Stanford/JR in 2015)
No pitcher on the Cape threw more changeups than Hyannis’ Brakeman. And, it’s hard to argue with his success. He finished in a tie for the league lead in strikeouts with 47, and he accomplished that by throwing more changeups than fastballs. A dominant, plus offering thrown at 81-84 mph, it’s a pitch Brakeman can and will throw in any count to both righty and lefty hitters. It has outstanding tumbling action and he shows the utmost confidence in his location of it. The biggest development in Brakeman’s game, however, may be his increased fastball velocity. After being known as a pitcher who topped in the low 90s, he was consistently up to 95 mph this summer and worked consistently at 92-94 mph. And, in his outings down the stretch of the summer, he made some of his best starts and he carried that velocity deep into the game. His approach to pitching is unique, and his fringe 76-78 mph curveball will have to develop, but when he’s on he’s nearly unhittable.

9. Christin Stewart, of, Orleans Firebirds (Tennessee/JR in 2015)
Had it not been for his Team USA selection, if early indications were accurate, Stewart looked like he would have given Kevin Newman a run for his money as league MVP. The Stewart that everyone knew coming into the summer and that thrived on the Cape a year earlier was D.J. Stewart. But, Christin’s bat has made a loud impression as well, even during his early and brief stint with the Orleans Firebirds. The Tennessee outfielder has plus power that plays to all fields and his game action approach was as impressive as any college hitter for stretches of time during the summer. He hits from a wide base and gets his lower half involved very well. He has the bat speed to let the ball track and it also allows him to handle off-speed pitches well. Stewart is going to be limited to left field at the next level, be he’s a potential 30 home run lefthanded bat with a possible 55 hit tool. With the scarcity of power bats in college baseball, that could put him in the first round picture.

10. Chris Shaw, of, Chatham Anglers (Boston College/JR in 2015)
Whether great hitters are born or made is a debate that will never be fully resolved. But, Chris Shaw certainly makes a a strong case for them being made. Simply by talking hitting with Shaw for a few minutes, you can see just what a well schooled, cerebral hitter he is. He knows exactly how pitchers are attacking him and what he needs to work on to combat it. Players from northeast colleges are common in the Cape Cod League, but it’s not very often that a hitter from one of those schools vies for the title of league’s best hitting prospect. But, his ability to adapt to pitchers and handle premium velocity makes him one of the nation’s most advanced power hitters. He has a compact, balanced lefty stroke that produces immense, yet easy power to his pull side. We saw Shaw do damage against elite pitching like Jake Stinnett this spring, and he continued that this summer. In a time when power is becoming scarce at the pro level, Shaw’s lefty stroke, which in a number of ways resembles former big leaguer Garrett Anderson’s, is going to look very valuable moving forward. And, like Anderson, Shaw has a good hit tool, not just power. He is highly comparable in terms of professional profile to 2014 first round draft choice, Casey Gillaspie with his 60 power and 55 hit tool. And, his above average throwing arm gives him a solid chance to play right field at the next level, with first base as the logical backup. Shaw's eight home runs led the Cape and he has 30 home run type power at the next level. Some scouts compared him to Orioles' slugger, Chris Davis.


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