The Cape Cod League is filled with some of the best talents in college baseball, including the vast majority of early college picks in the June Rule 4 MLB entry draft. Besides the strong level of competition, the Cape also gives scouts a wooden-bat based look at prospects who normally play with metal. The league plays in mostly pitcher friendly parks and offense isn’t easy to come by generally, but this season saw an explosion of runs. It appears the balls were slightly juiced, though players are also more comfortable playing with wood these days since they regularly use BBCOR bats. This year’s Cape League lacked the consensus top names of last year (Appel, Gausman, Zunino) but featured a surprisingly deep and interesting group of players.
I live only about an hour from Cape Cod so I get a chance to see a good amount of the action. Chris asked me to share some of my observations from the 2012 season, which I’ve done below.
Three Pitchers You Already Know
Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State – The big southpaw from Larry Bird’s alma-mater dominated the Cape League this summer. Manaea struck out 85 batters in only 51 2/3 innings and did so in a year when the Cape saw an unprecedented explosion of offensive numbers. He features a sneaky, explosive low 90′s fastball, a dive-bomb split change and a promising slide piece. With size, present stuff, present velocity and projection left; Manaea has positioned himself to have a chance at being the first name called in June.
Aaron Blair, RHP, Marshall – Blair raised his stock on the Cape as much as any pitcher not named Manaea. Blair features a strong three pitch mix and a mature approach to the craft of pitching. The big, physical righty locates and mixes his pitches well and keeps hitters off balance. Blair showed up at Yarmouth-Dennis and was the early talk of the league with a fastball suddenly sitting low 90′s. He complements the heater with a strong, late biting power curve and a change-up he throws for strikes with good arm speed. Blair has set himself up for early round consideration with a strong Spring.
Colby Suggs, RHP, Arkansas – Suggs is a burly power reliever who already sits mid 90′s and touches higher. The fastball has late, explosive life but Suggs doesn’t always know where its going and sometimes works up in the zone with it. As tough as hitters find Suggs’ fastball, his power curve is almost equally impressive. It’s easy to envision Suggs pitching in the late innings for a major league team – and it likely won’t take him long to get there. Suggs may arguably be the most major league ready prospect in the entire 2013 draft. He’ll compete this Spring with Notre Dame RHP Dan Slania to be the first relief only prospect to come off the board.
Three Pitchers You Might Not Know But Should
David Whitehead, RHP, Elon – The righty from small Elon University in North Carolina has very good size and a durable frame. Whitehead flashed some good low 90′s velo and knows how to pitch off his FB. His secondaries are unspectacular but Whitehead makes up for it by keeping the ball down and locating. There’s certainly appeal here to major league teams as a workhorse type who gets ground balls and keeps the ball in the park. Whitehead might be a late bloomer with pro instruction as well.
Jon Keller, RHP, Tampa – Another solidly built pitcher, Keller recently transferred from Nebraska to Division II University of Tampa (along with fellow 2013 draftee Zach Alvord). Keller was 90-93 with his fastball when I saw him but I was told he had been mid 90′s earlier in the Cape season. Keller’s height and high arm slot creates a nice downward plane that helps keep the ball down, but it also deprives the pitch of having much natural run. Keller also throws an 11-4 curve and a low 80′s change that lack consistency.
C.K. Irby, RHP/OF, Samford – Much as Georgia Southern teammates Victor Roache and Chris Beck took the 2011 CCBL by storm, Samford teammates Irby and Phil Ervin wowed scouts in the summer of ’12. Irby is a solid two-way player with some pop and a little athleticism… but I saw him pitch more and thought he was a little more interesting as a pitcher. Irby was extremely effective in relief for Harwich, striking out 41 batters in 25 2/3 innings. On the mound, Irby was generally 91-92 in my viewings and he attacks the strike zone, working fast and staying ahead of batters. He also throws a little cut slider and a low 80′s changeup. Irby profiles as a bulldog reliever with some effort and deception in his mechanics.