After three weeks, college summer league standings and statistics have begun to shake-out even though several players have yet to report to their respective teams around the country—most notably those still fighting for a College World Series title in Omaha.
In Cape Cod, the Harwich Mariners have gone on a tear, winning seven of their last eight and all four of their games last week to improve their record to 10-4 and take a commanding first-place lead over Orleans in the Eastern Division. The Mariners’ winning ways have been the result of a good bullpen and timely hitting, both of which were showcased in their first contest of week three—last Tuesday against Cotuit.
Tied at one heading into the bottom of the seventh, Harwich's Billy Burns, a Mercer junior outfielder, knocked a one-out double to spark a three-run rally. DH Andrew Rash, a sophomore at Virginia Tech, capped the run with another double. Carter Capps, Seattle’s supplemental third-round selection out of D-II Mt. Olive (N.C.), and Grant Gordon, a sophomore righthander from Missouri State, threw 2 2/3 innings in relief to back a standout performance by starter Tanner Perkins, a big southpaw out of Western Kentucky.
Perkins threw six innings without allowing a run, setting up Capps to earn his first win of the summer. Darnell Sweeney, a sophomore middle infielder from Central Florida, led the Harwich bats with a 3-for-4, three-RBI night in the win.
There are plenty of hot hitters in every college summer league, from Cape Cod to Alaska and everywhere in between, but over the last few months, no one has been hotter than Howard JC outfielder Tyler Collins.
Collins—who transferred to Howard after one year at Baylor, where he hit .404 in 29 games for the Bears—dominated NJCAA Division I competition this spring. He led the country with 19 home runs and finished second with a .488 average and 82 RBIs en route to the National player of the year award. Collins also stole 16 bases, hit a school record 34 doubles, and was awarded the Rawlings Gold Glove award for his defense in left field.
“I never thought (winning national player of the year award honors) could really happen,” the sophomore said. “But after the season, I looked at the numbers and thought, ‘Wow, I had a pretty good year.’ It’s a real honor and really incredible.”
By Michael Kanen
The first weekend of Omaha offered pitchers duels, clutch home runs, and late game drama, but it wasn’t the only great college baseball going on around the country.
Out on the Cape, the Orleans Firebirds launched themselves into first place in the Eastern Division, winning four straight to improve their record to 6-2-1. Coming into the weekend, the Firebirds had struggled to put runs on the board, being shut out twice, and scoring more than two runs just once in the team’s first five games.
That all began to change late Friday night, as Orleans knocked home six runs in the final three frames to squeak by Falmouth, 7-4. Down a run in the top of the seventh, Jacksonville State junior Ben Waldrip, a hulking 6-foot-6, 245-pound lefthanded hitting first baseman, used every bit of his size to even the score with his first home run of the summer. Orleans got right back at the sticks in the eighth after Illinois State southpaw Kenny Long sat the Commodores down in order, extending their lead to 4-2 on a two RBI single by Arizona junior Steve Selsky.
There were only two games on the Cape Cod League slate last night, and both were tight affairs.
The star of the night was without a doubt Wareham’s Justin Amlung, a redshirt sophomore from Louisville who should be an interesting draft-and-follow this summer after being selected in the 39th round by the Reds. Amlung was 10-2, 2.31 this season, garnering first-team all-Big East recognition. The former walk-on who has blossomed into the Cardinals ace delivered his second gem of the young summer season, throwing six shutout innings against Orleans to stage a 3-0 win for the Gatemen.
Through 12 innings, Amlung has allowed just one earned run and three hits while striking out eight. Although his stuff isn’t overwhelming, as evidenced by his 80 strikeouts in 105 innings pitched this spring, Amlung has found ways to get hitters out.
The night’s other match-up, Hyannis vs. Falmouth, had more suspense. Hyannis won its league-leading fifth game of the season, thanks in part to a walk-off single from Harbor Hawk third baseman Richie Pedroza.
While the broader eye of the baseball world turns its attention to Omaha for the College World Series and national introduction of TD Ameritrade Park this weekend, there is still plenty of college baseball going on in other parts of the country.
Most collegiate summer leagues got underway last week, and many teams and players have already started to stand out among the pack.
In the Cape Cod League, the Cotuit Kettleers are looking to build off their 2010 championship. Like most teams on the Cape, the Kettleers have seen drastic turnover throughout their roster, and one of the few returnees, Vanderbilt sophomore outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, has yet to report as the Commodores look to advance in their first CWS appearance.
In the early going, the Kettleers have ridden the hot bats of two Cape rookies who began to make names for themselves this spring. Baseball America first-team All-American Victor Roache has picked up right where he left off with Georgia Southern after leading the nation with 30 home runs with 84 RBIs. Through six games, the sophomore outfielder is 9-for-18, with three doubles and a home run. The lone round-tripper was a clutch three-run shot in the seventh inning, down 2-1, in last night’s match-up with Bourne.
The Kettleers offense has also been boosted by Georgia Tech freshman outfielder Kyle Wren, who is off to .421 start with four stolen bases. Wren manned center field for the Yellow Jackets this spring while hitting .340 in the leadoff spot.
Summer college baseball is wrapping up around the country. A few notable championships were decided this weekend—in the Cape Cod League, Coastal Plain League and National Baseball Congress World Series.
In the Cape, the Cotuit Kettleers won their first title since 1999 with a 6-0 win against Yarmouth-Dennis in the decisive third game of the championship series on Friday. Cotuit capitalized on four Y-D errors and got a brilliant relief outing from righthander Nick Tropeano (Stony Brook) after starter Brady Rodgers (Arizona State) left with a back strain in the third inning. Tropeano, the top prospect in the Atlantic Collegiate League last summer, retired the first nine batters he faced and finished with seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 hitless innings of relief.
“There was no doubt in my mind that if Nick Tropeano finished that ballgame, the Cotuit Kettleers were going to win,” Cotuit coach Mike Roberts told the Cape Cod Times. “(He) is one of the greatest competitors I've ever seen in collegiate baseball in my 30-plus years of coaching. He is Long Island tough.” [...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball's collegiate national team fell just short of its fourth straight V FISU World University Championships title this weekend in Tokyo, as Cuba overcame a pair of late deficits in the gold-medal game to stun the Americans, 4-3, in 10 innings.
"It was one of the greatest games I've ever watched, I think," Team USA coach Bill Kinneberg said Tuesday, after returning from Japan. "The intensity of both teams, the play of both teams, just the way it unfolded was really something. It was just too bad somebody had to lose, and it was really too bad we came out on the losing end of it. I don't know if I've ever seen a team of mine play with that emotion and that intensity for 10 innings."
After Drew Maggi (Arizona State) broke a scoreless tie with a solo homer in the top of the eighth, Cuban star Alfredo Despaigne answered with a game-tying solo homer of his own in the bottom of the frame against USA closer Noe Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton), who had entered in relief of starter Gerrit Cole (UCLA). Cole had scattered 10 hits over seven shutout innings.
Lefthander Nick Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton) rescued his Titans teammate from a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the ninth to force extra innings. International tie-breaker rules allowed each team to start its 10th inning with runners on first and second and no outs. Team USA finally got to Cuban starter Miguel Gonzalez (who struck out 14 over 9 2/3 innings, throwing 151 pitches) for two runs in the top of the 10th, but Despaigne answered again in the bottom of the inning.Unknown Object
With one out, Despaigne cranked his second homer of the game—a walk-off, three-run shot against Nick Ramirez. It came on an 0-and-1 changeup.
"He's really a mature hitter," Kinneberg said of Despaigne. "Nick threw him a changeup the first pitch, and he looked kind of bad on it. As good a hitter as he was, we threw it to him again, and he really made a tremendous adjustment on it. Nick threw a good pitch, but his strength took over on that. It was really a great at-bat by him."
There's no shame in losing to Despaigne, who is the best player in Cuban baseball right now. The 24-year-old outfielder is a veteran of the 2008 Olympics (when he homered against Stephen Strasburg in a Cuban rout of the USA in the semifinals) and 2009 World Baseball Classic. In 2008-09, he hit 32 home runs in Cuba's Serie Nacional, breaking the league record. He nearly won the league's triple crown this past season, when he became the third player to repeat as Serie Nacional MVP.
So Team USA had to settle for the silver medal, but it took a heroic performance from Cuba's best player to keep the younger Americans from the gold.
Team USA finished its summer tour with a 16-3 record, including two losses against Chinese Taipei immediately after the Americans landed in Asia. The team rebounded nicely from those losses, splitting the four-game series against the Taiwanese and then outscoring its five opponents 46-10 to reach the FISU finals. That run included quality wins against Canada in pooly play and Japan in the semifinals.
As usual, pitching was Team USA's greatest strength. The team's 11-man pitching staff posted a 1.22 combined ERA with 188 strikeouts and 41 walks in 162 innings. Six different pitchers posted sub-1.00 ERAs in 11 or more innings, led by lefthander Tyler Anderson (1-0, 0.00 in 16 innings over three starts) and righty Sonny Gray (3-0, 0.38 in 24 innings over five appearances, including the semifinal win against Japan). Gray and Cole (2-0, 0.72) turned in their second straight dominant summers with Team USA.
"Our pitching was really good throughout the summer," Kinneberg said. "We gave up some runs against Chinese Taipei in the tournament, that was really the only game we gave up any significant runs whatsoever. Our pitching and defense were really good. I think we struggled at times offensively, and mainly because of the type of pitching we were seeing. When we saw average pitching or below average pitching we hit pretty good. But we saw really good pitching from Korea (early in the summer in North Carolina), and really good pitching from Japan and Cuba obviously, and Chinese Taipei had some good arms. Offensively I thought we were a little bit shy, and without Anthony (Rendon), that probably hurt us a little bit on the offensive side."
Still, the Americans rebounded after Rendon—BA's 2010 College Player of the Year—suffered a major ankle injury in the second game of the summer. Team USA brought in Jason Esposito (Vanderbilt) to play third base, and he provided superb defense as well as extra energy and intensity. Team USA was plenty athletic—the outfield alone contained a trio of legitimate five-tool center fielders in George Springer (Connecticut), Jackie Bradley Jr. (South Carolina) and Mikie Mahtook (Louisiana State)—and had a bit of power (most notably from Bethune-Cookman's Peter O'Brien and Springer, two of the summer's biggest breakout players). A third breakout star—versatile infielder Ryan Wright (Louisville)—might have been the team's MVP. Wright led all regulars with a .361 average and delivered clutch hit after clutch hit.
The infield defense was strong, thanks to the steadiness of shortstop Nolan Fontana (Florida), second baseman Drew Maggi (Arizona State), Esposito and Nick Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton). Team USA posted a solid .976 fielding percentage.
It was a well-constructed club, though it fell just short of its No. 1 goal. But Kinneberg praised the character and toughness of his team and said he regarded the summer as a success.
"It was really a pleasure for me to be around these guys," Kinneberg said. "We asked them at the beginning to come play hard every game, play the game right, and they did it. I thought the tour was competitive all the way through, with the Koreans and then the Japanese in Omaha, then going to Taiwan was a good experience for us. That got us more ready for the tournament because we were in Asia and continued playing that style of baseball. It was shorter than the other tours I've been involved in, which may have been a good thing too. Our starting pitchers did not overthrow, everybody got kind of the same number of at-bats.
"You always tell your team to leave it on the field, and we did."
USA Baseball's collegiate national team is heading to its fourth straight gold-medal game at the V FISU World University Baseball Championships. Team USA beat host Japan in Tokyo, 4-2, in Thursday's semifinal to earn a showdown against Cuba for the gold on Saturday.
Righthander Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt) continued his tour de force summer, earning his third win with seven strong innings. He allowed his first two runs of the summer—one earned—in the first two innings, but he shut out Japan for the next five innings. He allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out six, improving to 3-0, 0.38 with a 37-4 strikeout-walk ratio in 24 innings this summer.
Outfielder George Springer (Connecticut) provided all of Team USA's offense with a first-inning grand slam. Springer leads the national team with 17 RBIs on the summer. [...] Continue Reading »
BOSTON—Pitching has dominated the Cape Cod League for decades, so it wasn't exactly big news that power arms were the big story of the league's all-star game Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
The dozens of scouts and 10,470 fans on hand were treated to stellar pitching from both sides in the West's 5-0 win against the East. Nine West pitchers worked an inning apiece in a combined six-hit shutout. The West rolled out one flame-thrower after another, starting with Cotuit righthander Austin Wood (St. Petersburg, Fla., JC) and finishing with Bourne righty Tony Zych (Louisville). Wood worked in the 93-96 mph range in his scoreless inning, but Zych out-did him, sitting at 95-97 and mixing in a nasty hard slider.
"The kid at the end was throwing 97 miles an hour, and the guys were coming back to the dugout—that's tough to catch up with, when you're throwing 97," said East manager Scott Pickler (Yarmouth-Dennis). "These guys have seen 92, 93 all year long, but when you get a 97, that's pretty tough. And those guys know how many scouts are behind them, and they're going out there and the sliders they had to hit . . . it's tough on hitters. All-star games are tough on hitters.
"When you ask these guys to go out there and perform in this atmosphere, they know they only have to get three outs, they know there's nothing else on the line, they can cut it loose." [...] Continue Reading »
BOSTON—There can be no doubt. Paul Hoilman is college baseball's home run king.
"If you want to write it that way, you can," Hoilman said. "I'll take it."
The hulking East Tennessee State slugger finished his junior year with 25 home runs—two shy of national leader Jordan Ribera of Fresno State.
Hoilman has since gotten the better of Ribera in two televised home run derbies—first at Rosenblatt Stadium on July 7, then again at Fenway Park in the home run hitting contest before the Cape Cod League all-star game. He also beat Pacific-10 Conference home run champ Ricky Oropesa in both contests.
Hoilman hit two home runs over Fenway Park's Green Monster in the first round to advance to the championship round against Oropesa (two homers in first round) and Coastal Carolina's Daniel Bowman (six). Hoilman hit three homers in the championship round to take the title, edging Oropesa (two).
At Rosenblatt, Hoilman had blasted five homers in the first round and 12 in the championship round. But that was with metal bats; this contest was with wood bats.
"It was a lot tougher here than at Omaha with the metal," Hoilman said. "I'd say it's more rewarding with wood, swinging against the Cape guys . . . I'm not calling myself the defending champ or anything, but to kind of have that target—a lot of these guys were there—Ribera, Oropesa, they were in Omaha. They're great guys, we had a lot of fun there, a lot of fun here. It's a great feeling." [...] Continue Reading »
Wilmington Sharks righthander Zach Taylor (Evansville) threw the first perfect game in the 14-year history of the Coastal Plain League on Thursday, in a 13-0 win against Fayetteville.
The rising senior needed just 117 pitches to complete the nine-inning perfect game, inducing 13 groundball outs, 10 flyouts and striking out four. His defense helped him complete the perfect game with a nice back-handed play at shortstop in the fourth inning, and a nice catch in deep left-center in the fifth inning.
"You just have to stay focused and realize you can only take care of what you can take care of," Taylor told the Wilmington Star News. "You have to let the at-bats go and just focus when you get out there."
Taylor has worked mostly in relief during his career at Evansville—he has made just 16 starts in 70 career appearances over three years. He has made nine appearances this summer, including four starts, and is 3-1, 1.82 with 22 strikeouts and five walks in 35 innings. The Aces said Taylor improved his strength and conditioning in the offseason; he now works in the upper 80s with his fastball and mixes in a very good slider.
The perfect game was even more special for Taylor because his family was in town from Fort Wayne to see him pitch. They were among the Thirsty Thursday crowd of 2,756 fans who got to witness CPL history.
Two of the top college summer leagues—the Northwoods and Coastal Plain—played their all-star games Tuesday night in front of sizable scouting contingents in Eau Claire, Wis., and Forest City, N.C., respectively.
Duluth third baseman Cody Asche (Nebraska) earned MVP honors of the NWL all-star game, going 2-for-4 with a two-run homer to lead the North to a 7-5 win over the South. Asche, who broke his hamate bone after just 10 games in Duluth last year, is having a fine summer, hitting .318 with seven homers and 45 RBIs. His summer comes on the heels of his breakout sophomore season for the Cornhuskers, when he hit .311 with 10 homers and 58 RBIs. Asche has developed into a nice lefthanded power hitter and an improved defender at third base, and his prospect stock is on the rise.
The South got two hits—including an RBI double—from Madison first baseman Harold Riggins (North Carolina State), who is tearing up the NWL for the second straight summer. After hitting .308 with nine homers in 214 at-bats last year for the Mallards, Riggins is hitting .366 with seven homers and 23 RBIs through 112 at-bats this year.
"He's definitely a physical specimen," said an American League scout who was on hand. "He's a guy to take a close look at next year." [...] Continue Reading »
It's all-star week in several prominent summer college leagues. The Northwoods and Coastal Plain leagues will play their all-star games on Tuesday, and the New England Collegiate League kicked off the week with its all-star game Sunday in beautiful Newport, R.I.
The East team beat the West team, 10-0, as nine East pitchers comibned on a one-hit shutout. East starter Mark Appel (Stanford) was the most impressive player in the game, according to a couple of scouts who were on hand. In his scoreless first inning, the rising sophomore righthander sat at 92-93 mph and threw an 81 mph slider with short downward break and a 78-81 changeup with good arm speed and some tumble.
"He's the guy who stood out to me the most—he's pretty good," a scout with an American League club said. "He's got some down action to his fastball and gets a lot of ground balls."
Appel's teammate at Stanford and Newport, shortstop Kenny Diekroeger, also had a strong showing, going 2-for-3 for the East. [...] Continue Reading »
The Brewster Whitecaps have the best record in the Cape Cod League (19-8) thanks to a roster loaded with talent—and character.
"Every team out here's an all-star team, but the chemistry and camaraderie these guys created real fast led to our success at this point," said Brewster coach Tom Myers, the associate head coach and pitching coach at UC Santa Barbara. "These guys are taking it seriously, and that's why I'm enjoying it so much. They're playing to win. Some guys come up here and just want to showcase their talents for scouts. These guys know there are scouts there, but they want to win."
I asked Myers to break down a number of players on his team that are having big summers or emerging as sleeper prospects. Here are his thoughts:
On Long Beach State righthander Andrew Gagnon (4-0, 1.69, 35-10 K-BB in 27 IP): "Andrew Gagnon is one to watch for next year: loose arm, 89-92, pretty good feel for a changeup, his slider's in development. He pitches to both sides of the plate and he comes at guys. I think he was the Friday night guy this past year at Long Beach, and I foresee him being really good this year." [...] Continue Reading »
CARY, N.C.—Three Team USA pitchers threw a combined no-hitter in a 3-0 win against Korea on Wednesday at the USA Baseball National Training Center, but the mood on the field after the game was somber. That's because Team USA lost its biggest star, BA's College Player of the Year Anthony Rendon, to a severe ankle injury.
Rendon, a rising junior third baseman for Rice, singled in the first inning but was caught in a rundown between first and second base after a pickoff throw. He attempted to cut back toward first base to avoid a tag, and his right leg appeared to get caught underneath him. He winced, then rolled onto his chest and pounded the ground a few times with his right hand.
Team USA first-base coach Ed Blankmeyer, the first person to reach Rendon, said after the game that Rendon's foot was bent at an unnatural angle, and it was apparent immediately that the injury was serious. He was carted off the field and taken by ambulance to a local hospital for X-rays. UPDATE: Team USA officially announced this afternoon that Rendon has a fracture-dislocation of his right ankle and will miss the rest of the summer. He will return to Houston on Friday. [...] Continue Reading »
Following a week-long trials process, USA Baseball announced the 22 members of the 2010 college national team late Sunday night, a roster that includes UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole, Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray and Clemson shortstop Brad Miller, all of whom are repeat members from the 2009 club. Baseball America College Player of the Year Anthony Rendon also earned a spot on the roster.
Utah coach Bill Kinneberg will coach the national team this summer, in a schedule that starts Monday in Gastonia, N.C., with a game against the Coastal Plain League's Gastonia Grizzlies, followed with a five-game series in North Carolina this week against Korea. The schedule also includes a one-game international friendly against Japan's college all-star team at Rosenblatt Stadium on July 21. The summer ends in Japan at the FISU World University Championships from July 30-Aug. 7, an event the U.S. has won in 2004, '06 and '08. [...] Continue Reading »
By Bubba Brown
As the top options for collegiate summer play, the Cape Cod League and USA Baseball are annual competitors for the top collegiate talent. However, the calendar has thrown a wrench into the equation this year.
Due to a number of scheduling factors, namely the start date of the FISU World University Baseball Championships, trials for the USA collegiate national team will run much later than normal—from July 6 through July 11—which conflicts with the schedule of the Cape Cod League.
Cape players that have been invited to try out for the USA squad must decide if they want to leave their teams in hopes of making the USA team, which leaves both USA Baseball and the Cape in flux.
“We’re not happy with that,” said Eric Cambell, USA Baseball's longtime national team general manager. “We would not want to conflict, but unfortunately I think the summer window is becoming shorter and shorter for everybody. I’m not saying that makes it easier for anybody, I’m saying it seems to make it a tough process for everybody.” [...] Continue Reading »
Some technical problems with the College Blog and my own bout with the flu have resulted in a backlog of news items this week. Here’s a quick rundown:
• The Big Ten Conference announced today that its conference tournament will be held in Columbus, Ohio, through 2012. In 2009, the Big Ten played its first neutral-site tournament since 1994 at Huntington Park, home of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. The tournament will return to Huntington in 2011 and 2012, but due to a facility conflict, the 2010 tournament will be held at Ohio State’s Bill Davis Stadium. The 2009 tournament drew more than 12,000 fans, marking the tournament’s highest total attendance in the past decade.
• There was some tragic news out of Southern California on Tuesday. Long Beach State recruit James Wernke was found dead in Fullerton after going missing during the weekend. [...] Continue Reading »
The Prospect League announced Thursday that it will expand from 11 to 14 teams for the 2010 season. The new franchises joining the league are the Dekalb County (Ill.) Liners, the Terre Haute (Ind.) Rex and the West Virginia Miners.
The Liners will play at Founder’s Field in Sycamore, Ill. The Rex will play at Sycamore Field on the campus of Indiana State in Terre Haute. The Miners will play in Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley, W.V. [...] Continue Reading »
Next year, the California Collegiate League will expand from a five-team league to a seven-team league. The league voted to add two new teams—the San Luis Obispo Blues and another team that isn’t even based in California.
The second new team will be the Las Vegas Summer Baseball Club, a team that will be composed mostly of players from the Four Corners area that includes Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.
The team will be coached by Buck Thomas, a coach and part-time Angels scout from Las Vegas. Thomas started the Las Vegas Summer Baseball Club last year, and the team played independently, going 27-10.
Being on the team will provide players in the Four Corners the chance to get acclimated with the rigors of Division I or professional baseball—something Thomas felt wasn’t previously available in that area of the country.
"I just felt there were so many guys that were not getting the opportunity to prepare for the next level in Vegas, so I just went out and put that team together and put that schedule together," Thomas said. "It’s a great opportunity for those Four-Corners kids to get out. They get stuck playing (American) Legion and beating up on the same kids for four years, and then they go out to Arizona and (the University of San Diego) and whatnot and they’re not as prepared as they could be, so I think it’s a good thing."
[...] Continue Reading »
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