Summer Collegiate Team Rankings

Allan Simpson

When In Doubt, Best to Defer To Strength of Teams on Cape

Given the very unpredictable nature of summer baseball, it often takes time for the nation’s top teams to establish themselves and move to the forefront of Perfect Game’s annual ranking of the top clubs. This year, it may be a more difficult task than normal to get an early handle on the top summer-league teams.

The Cape Cod League’s Harwich Mariners are ranked No. 1 in PG’s first in-season ranking of the Top 30 Teams for the 2012 season, but that may be more a reflection of how the team finished a year ago and how it should play when all its reinforcements arrive, as opposed to how it has played to date.

Through its first five games this season, the defending Cape Cod League champions are just 3-2, and technically in third place in the Cape’s Eastern Division—hardly the credentials of a No. 1-ranked team. But the Mariners have largely held serve to date with a depleted roster, and plenty more is expected of them in the coming weeks.

Among the reinforcements who are expected to join the team today or Wednesday are top-rated prospects like outfielder Austin Wilson and first baseman Brian Ragira, both from Stanford; second baseman JaCoby Jones and righthander Austin Nola, both from Louisiana State; and catcher Brett Austin from North Carolina State. Nola will make his debut tonight against Hyannis as the Mariners starting pitcher.

All five players are considered elite-level prospects, and their delay in joining the Mariners is a result of their team’s late participation in NCAA post-season play. A sixth player, South Carolina outfielder Tanner English, will be delayed a little longer as the Gamecocks are still alive in the College World Series.

The one Harwich player that has stood out to date and even carried the team in the early going is outfielder Phil Ervin, a rising junior at Samford. He leads the prestigious Cape League in homers (3), RBIs (8) and slugging average (1.118) through five games, while hitting .412. Righthander Corey Littrell (Kentucky) has been the dominant arm on the Mariners deep, talented pitching staff, throwing four scoreless innings while striking out eight.

While Harwich has yet to hit full stride while awaiting the arrival of several key players, it has opened the door for the Chatham Anglers and Orleans Firebirds to grab an early share of the lead in the Cape’s Eastern Division. Both teams are 4-1 in the early going, a full game ahead of Harwich.

A total of six teams from the Cape Cod League, easily the nation’s most-prestigious summer-college league, occupy spots in Perfect Game’s first Top 30 Ranking, and conceivably more teams from that league could be ranked, except that a team must have at least a .500 record overall to receive consideration. As it is, Chatham at No. 4 and the Cotuit Kettleers (3-2) at No. 5 have cracked the top five, in addition to Harwich.

Teams are ranked on the following criteria: won-loss record, league dominance, depth and quality of professional-level talent and the overall strength of the league.

Other teams to make the top five are the No. 2-ranked Newport Gulls (5-1), a perennial New England Collegiate League power, and No. 3-ranked La Crosse Loggers (15-5), which has ridden a nine-game winning streak to a share of the best record in the Northwoods League.

On the flip side, the Cal Ripken League’s Bethesda Big Train (3-9), PG’s No. 1-ranked team in 2011, continues to struggle after an abnormally slow start, while the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (0-5) remain winless after holding down first place from start to finish in the regular season in the Cape Cod League a year ago.

1 Harwich Mariners MA Cape Cod League 3-2
Samford OF Phil Ervin (.412-3-8), Georgia Tech 2B Sam Dove (.438-1-3), Notre Dame OF Eric Jagielo (.400-1-4) all swinging bats at .400 clip for Mariners
2 Newport Gulls RI New England Collegiate League 5-1
Gulls lead NECBL in batting (.277), ERA (2.38) behind Kansas C Alex DeLeon (.360-2-5), Arizona State OF Kasey Coffman (.368-1-7), Arkansas State RHP Daniel Wright (2-0, 1.93)
3 La Crosse Loggers WI Northwoods League 15-5
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi RHP Jacob Dorris (3-0, 1.32, league-high 33 SO), Hinds (Miss.) CC LHP Adam Gunn (3-0, 1.32), Sacramento CC RHP Bo Henning (3-0, 0.00) spark Loggers to 9-game win streak
4 Chatham Anglers MA Cape Cod League 4-1
Virginia Tech SS Chad Pinder (.412-1-6), Pepperdine OF Aaron Brown (.357-0-3), Boston College RHP Eric Stevens (1-0, 0.00) fuel Anglers fast start
5 Cotuit Kettleers MA Cape Cod League 3-2
Michigan OF Pat Biondi (.412-0-3) swinging hot stick, while Arizona State LHP Adam McCreery, Notre Dame RHP Dan Slania, Vanderbilt LHP Kevin Ziomek a combined 2-0, 0.00 with 3 BB/23 K's in 13 IP
6 Wenatchee Applesox WA West Coast League 12-3
Pitching of Gonzaga LHP Derek Callahan (2-0, 0.53, league-high 21 SO), Hawaii LHP Lawrence Chew (1-0, 0.69), Wenatchee Valley CC RHP Beau Kerns (2-0, 1.80) spark AppleSox
7 Mankato MoonDogs MN Northwoods League 15-5
MoonDogs earn share of NWL best record on strength of fast starts by IF Blair Moore (.395-1-13), Iowa C Danny Sheppard (.279-3-10)
8 Santa Barbara Foresters CA California Collegiate League 10-5
Pitching-rich Foresters move to top of CCL standings behind Southern California RHP Ian McCarthy (3-0, 0.56), Nebraska RHP Tom Lemke (2-0, 0.75)
9 Fayetteville Swampdogs NC Coastal Plain League 12-6
Two Florida D-II products have been key contributors; Tampa OF Zach Gawrych (.303-1-6) leads CPL in runs (22), Lynn 3B Sal Giardina (.286-3-18) leads league in RBIs
10 DuBois County Bombers Sel Prospect League 14-4
Bombers burst out of gate behind Indiana State OF Landon Curry (.395-0-10, 11 SB), arms of Carson-Newman (Tenn.) RHP Alex Britt (1-1, 1.37), Vincennes (Ind.) JC RHP Ty Simpson (2-0, 1.21)
11 San Luis Obispo Blues CA California Collegiate League 11-4
12 Wareham Gateman MA Cape Cod League 3-2
13 Corvallis Knights OR West Coast League 12-4
14 Keene Swamp Bats NH New England Collegiate League 5-1
15 Amsterdam Mohawks NY Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League 7-2
16 Waterloo Bucks IA Northwoods League 14-6
17 Winchester Royals VA Valley League 10-4
18 Kenai Peninsula Oilers AK Alaska League 6-1
19 Forest City Owls NC Coastal Plain League 12-6
20 West Virginia Miners WV Prospect League 13-5
21 Brazos Valley Bombers TX Texas Collegiate League 11-2
22 Orleans Firebirds MA Cape Cod League 4-1
23 Rockville Express Sel Cal Ripken Sr League 9-3
24 Edenton Steamers NC Coastal Plain League 13-4
25 Falmouth Commodores MA Cape Cod League 3-2
26 Cincinnati Steam OH Great Lakes League 6-3
27 East Texas Pumpjacks TX Texas Collegiate League 11-3
28 Liberal Beejays KS Jayhawk League 8-3
29 Palm Springs Power CA Southern California Collegiate League 12-1
30 Nevada Griffons MO MINK League 12-5

OTHERS RECEIVING CONSIDERATION: Bellingham Bells / West Coast (11-3); Newark Pilots / Perfect Game Collegiate (6-3); New York Atlantics / Atlantic Collegiate (12-1); North Shore Navigators / Futures (7-2); Oneonta Outlaws / Perfect Game Collegiate (6-3); Quincy Gems / Prospect (12-6); Regina Red Sox / Western Major (12-2); Waynesboro Generals / Valley (9-4); Winter Park Diamond Dawgs / Florida Collegiate (4-4).
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