BOSTON—James Ramsey had such a good time Friday night that he said he wanted to keep on playing with his new teammates—the all-stars of the Cape Cod League's East Division.
Ramsey, a rising senior outfielder at Florida State, jumped on an 88 mph first-pitch fastball from William & Mary righthander John Farrell in the fifth inning, depositing it into the right-field bullpen at Fenway Park for a solo home run. That blast earned the Yarmouth-Dennis star the MVP honors for the East, which beat the West 4-1 in the all-star game.
"You feel like you're off the ground, for sure," Ramsey said of the feeling of hitting the home run. "The best part wasn't really running the bases, it was getting back to the dugout, getting the high-fives—'I've only known you for a couple of hours, but I've seen you play for a couple of weeks now.' . . . I'm really blessed to be able to play alongside so many good players in this league."
Ramsey, like every Cape League all-star who has gotten a chance to play at Fenway Park over the last three years, got a major thrill out of playing in the major leagues' oldest stadium. Much of the lower seating bowl was filled despite a forecast that called for a chance of thunderstorms, and the official attendance was 7,007—creating a festive atmosphere.
"You're trying to soak it in—but not too much, with the rain. We were willing that away," Ramsey said. "Everybody was looking up at the sky while we were signing autographs thinking there might not be a chance."
But aside from a few very light showers, the weather cooperated, and one of the premier showcase events for college talent went off without a hitch.
Scouts came away from the all-star game satisfied, though not dazzled. One national crosschecker said the talent on display was "nothing special," but "fair." And a National League scouting director said that while this is not a banner year for talent in the Cape or elsewhere in college baseball, there are still plenty of good prospects in the Cape League.
The scouting consensus seems to be that Cotuit slugger Victor Roache (Georgia Southern) has the most upside among the players in attendance at the all-star game. Roache, who led Division I with 30 home runs this spring, unleashed a couple of mammoth home runs over the Green Monster during Friday's CCBL home run derby, though he finished with just two long balls, good enough for fourth place. He fell behind in the count in all four of hits at-bats during the all-star game, finishing a quiet 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
The players who took the best at-bats, according to a couple of scouts, were Y-D third baseman Stephen Piscotty (Stanford) and Ramsey. Piscotty went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, and even his outs were squared up. He scored the East's first run in the second, as Y-D teammate Mason Katz (Louisiana State) doubled into the left field corner, and both players scored on a pair of overthrows by West defenders on that same play.
Athletic Brewster outfielder Jason Monda (Washington State) singled home another run in the third, and Ramsey homered in the fifth to round out the scoring. Otherwise, the power arms took care of business, as usual in this game.
"When you get these starters and closers, and they can go out there for one inning and blow it out, it's pretty nice," said East head coach Scott Pickler of Yarmouth-Dennis. "They don't have to hold back or save themselves, and there's 30 or 40 scouts and they're going against the best, the adrenaline's up."
That was especially the case for one of the game's breakout arms, Brewster righthander Austin Voth (Washington). The rising sophomore sat at 92-93 and topped out at 94, to go with a nice mid-70s curveball in his 1-2-3 seventh inning.
"I felt good warming up, then my legs hurt," Voth said. "Then I got in the game and I was throwing ched(dar). I'd never hit 94 in a game before—that was exciting for me. You call that adrenaline."
Harwich righty Carter Capps (Mount Olive, N.C.), a supplemental third-round pick by the Mariners as a redshirt sophomore this spring, lit up the radar gun more than any other pitcher, sitting at 94-96 mph in the eighth inning. He also used a slurvy 80-82 mph breaking ball to record two of his three strikeouts in the inning—during which he recorded four outs, as his first strikeout victim reached on a wild pitch. A scout who has seen plenty of Capps said he was much better Friday than he was for much of the spring, but he needs to show he has a weapon against good lefthanded hitters.
Fellow physical righty Chris Beck (Cotuit/Georgia Southern) also stood out, working in the 92-95 range and mixing in an 81-84 slider and an 80-82 changeup. East starter Ryan Eades (Y-D/LSU) and Cotuit reliever Bobby Wahl (Mississippi) also reached the mid-90s for the West, while Josh Conway (Coastal Carolina) and John Simms (Rice) showed low-90s velocity as well as good feel for their secondary stuff.
For the East, righties Matt Koch (Louisville), J.T. Chargois (Rice) and Trevor Gott (Kentucky) all sat around 92-93, and Chargois touched 94-95. All three also incorporated sharp breaking balls.
In the pregame home run derby, Chatham's Richie Shaffer (Clemson) put on the best show, launching six homers over the Green Monster to win the contest. Hyannis' Adam Brett Walker (Jacksonville) and Wareham's Daniel Palka (Georgia Tech) tied for second with three apiece.
Palka, the lone lefthanded hitter in the derby, hit a pair of homers over the bullpens in right field, and another one into the pen. But Fenway is a righthanded slugger's haven, and Shaffer took advantage, peppering the Monster seats and hitting a pair of balls high into a light standard atop the Wall.
"It's an intimidating fence, but when you clear it, it feels pretty good," said Shaffer, who started his round with five straight outs before hitting homers on six of his next eight swings. "The first couple I was a little tense, maybe overswinging a little bit. Once you get the first one, you can take a deep breath and say, 'All right, I got on the board.' Then I got in a nice little groove, and it felt good."
Shaffer said he's worked hard this summer in the Cape League to improve his plate discipline and balance, and he said he's satisfied with the results of his labor, though there is always more work to be done. But Friday was more about fun than work.
"This has got to be one of the greatest places to play baseball in the world," he said. "Just being out here and standing around, it gives me goosebumps just standing here . . . There's so much history and tradition, you can't really put it into words what it's like to be out here. It's really cool standing at home plate and getting to swing and see the ball hit the Green Monster. It's something you think about as a kid. It's pretty awesome."
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