BOSTON—It’s raining steadily now, and play has been halted here at the Cape Cod League all-star game. The Fenway Park groundscrew has covered the infield with the tarp here in the middle of the fifth inning, and I think it’s very unlikely any more baseball will be played tonight, judging by the doppler radar. For the record, the West leads 3-0 on the strength of two RBIs from Cotuit third baseman Zack Cox (Arkansas) and four innings of one-hit ball from four different pitchers.
Cox was the big winner tonight, impressing several scouts that I spoke with. He got the West on the board with an RBI triple over the center fielder’s head against Rob Rasmussen (UCLA) in the first inning, and he knocked an RBI single to left field in the second inning against Kyle Blair (San Diego). Cox was due to lead off the bottom of the fifth before play was stopped. [...] Continue Reading »
BOSTON—Conditions were not conducive to big displays of power at Fenway Park this afternoon. A thick, drizzly fog settled in around the ballpark, and the wind was gusting in from center field, knocking down a number of drives toward the Green Monster in left. But Harwich’s Connor Powers (Mississippi State) connected for three home runs over the monster in the opening round of the Cape Cod League’s home run hitting contest, then slugged two more in the championship round to defeat Cotuit’s Connor Rupp (Texas), who substituted for Kevin Patterson (Auburn).
"That wind was killing a lot of balls today, but that’s what you go for," Powers said, referring to his strategy to take aim at the Green Monster. "I’m not going to the opposite field—I’m looking to pull it. It’s definitely something I’ll never forget."
Powers is the second Mississippi State slugger to fare well in the Cape’s home run derby in three years, joining Mitch Moreland, who put on a show in Wareham in 2007 before losing to Luke Murton in the finals. Powers said afterward that he was going to call Moreland, who is now playing for Double-A Frisco in the Rangers system. [...] Continue Reading »
BOSTON—Greetings from Fenway Park, where the Cape Cod League’s all-star festivities are about to get rolling with the home run derby. It’s foggy and a bit chilly, and it’s been drizzling lightly on and off all afternoon, but I’m hopeful we can, in get the derby and the game (which starts at 7) before it starts raining significantly.
For the record, I’m taking Brett Eibner (Arkansas) in the home run derby—I want a righthanded hitter with power, and Eibner fits the bill. One scouting director I spoke with agrees with me, but two coaches I chatted with before the game like Jedd Gyorko (West Virginia), who is not oversized by has very quick wrists. I don’t see a lefty like Hunter Morris (Auburn) or Kevin Patterson (Auburn) faring particularly well here unless they can get in a groove to the opposite field. Then again, I believe the lefthanded-hitting Ken Griffey Jr. won the home run derby here at Fenway in 1999, so you never know.
The Cape Cod League has announced the rosters for next Thursday’s all-star game at Fenway Park. The Cape’s showcase event is the closest thing there is to a college baseball all-star game, and as usual the rosters are loaded with talent.
The East Division roster is led by starting pitcher Rob Rasmussen (UCLA), who is 2-0, 0.96 for Orleans this summer. The West Division counters with Brandon Workman (Texas), who is 1-0, 1.86 for Wareham. The West appears to have more thunder in its lineup, with Kyle Roller (East Carolina), Zack Cox (Arkansas), B.A. Vollmuth (Southern Mississippi), Brian Fletcher (Auburn) and Ryan Cuneo (Delaware) all representing power threats. The East, though, has an athletic, fast lineup led by speedsters Gary Brown (Cal State Fullerton) and Blake Kelso (Houston).
Gates open Thursday at 3 p.m., with the six-player home run derby slated to start at 5:15. The all-star game starts at 7. Baseball America will be on hand for all the festivities.
Falmouth coach Jeff Trundy perfectly summed up Todd Cunningham’s Cape Cod League season thus far: "He’s opened up a lot of eyes up here."
Perhaps no player in the Cape has had more of a breakout summer than Cunningham, who was tied for the league lead in batting (.385) and was the circuit’s sole leader in on-base percentage (.473) through Monday. A prototypical table-setter with above-average speed and plenty of patience, Cunningham had six stolen bases in seven tries and sported a tidy 10-12 walk-strikeout ratio. He’s also a switch-hitter who avails himself well from both sides of the plate, though he’s better as a lefthanded hitter.
"Number one, he makes contact," Trundy said. "He’s always in good balance, he makes contact, and really is able to put the bat head on the baseball. He squares up the ball, he’s got good hands. He uses his lower half, but you really notice his hands because he uses them real well. He puts the ball in play with two strikes, and he runs well." [...] Continue Reading »
The Cape Cod League all-star game is the closest thing there is to a college baseball all-star game. No other game in the spring or summer can match the talent assembled on both teams in the Cape’s showcase game, which this year will take place in Fenway Park on July 23. As that date approaches, we present the first of our weekly Cape Cod League updates.
This week, let’s shine the spotlight on the Bourne Braves, off to a 10-6 start despite losing five players to Team USA and several others to injuries. As a result of those holes, Bourne coach Harvey Shapiro has had to recruit several juniors to fill out his roster, which is always a risk because those players can sign pro contracts at a moment’s notice. But in Bourne’s case, it’s worked out very well, at least for the time being.
"I have a number of juniors; I had to pick them up, because they’re the only ones available," Shapiro said. "I think that has helped us. The juniors are older, they have more maturity than freshmen, so I think that helps. I always say I’m three or four players away from being really good, three or four players away from being bad." [...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball announced its 22-player roster for the college national team, with Cal State Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon highlighting the team as the lone returnee from last year’s club.
Coach Rick Jones (Tulane) kept a bit of an unusual roster in that there is no true third baseman or second baseman on the team. Colon is one of three regular shortstops on the roster, joined by Rice’s Rick Hague—a fellow sophomore—and Clemson freshman Brad Miller. With a 22-player roster, though, flexibility is always at a premium for Team USA, and this team has several flexible players on the roster.
Hawaii freshman Kolten Wong, for example, can catch, play all three outfield positions and give second base a try. Two of the team’s outfielders, Middle Tennessee State’s Bryce Brentz and Arizona State’s Matt Newman, are both pitchers and hitters.
The team’s strength, however, is on the mound. Want hard throwers? Try UCLA’s freshman tandem of Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole, or Vanderbilt freshman Sonny Gray, or Texas Tech’s Chad Bettis. Want college performance? Lefthander Drew Pomeranz, a top candidate to be top-10 pick in 2010, had a stellar postseason for Mississippi, nearly getting the Rebels to Omaha on his own. He had 124 strikeouts in 95 innings while going 8-4, 3.40. And the team has several emerging pitchers, such as Coastal Carolina’s Cody Wheeler and Kansas’ T.J. Walz.
USA Baseball also announced Utah’s Bill Kinneberg—a two-time Team USA assistant—as the head coach for 2010. Kinneberg’s pitching coach will be Cal State Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano, in his first stint with Team USA.
Here is the roster for this summer’s Team USA College National Team.
|Chad Bettis||So.||R-R||6-0||193||Texas Tech|
|Cody Wheeler||So.||L-L||5-11||160||Coastal Caro.|
|Asher Wojciechowski||So.||R-R||6-4||205||The Citadel|
|Christian Colon||So.||R-R||6-0||185||CS Fullerton|
|Bryce Brentz (RHP)||So.||R-R||6-0||180||Middle Tenn.|
|Michael Choice||So.||R-R||6-0||180||UT Arlington|
|Tyler Holt||So.||R-R||6-0||190||Florida State|
|Casey McGrew||Jr.||L-R||6-0||175||Wright State|
|Matt Newman (LHP)||So.||L-L||5-10||170||Arizona State|
|Alternates: Jeremy Schaffer, c, Tulane; Rob Segedin, 3b/rhp, Tulane|
DURHAM, N.C.—I apologize for the infrequent updates, but the internet situation here at Durham Bulls Athletic Park has deteriorated as the crowd has swelled to see local rivals Duke and North Carolina go head-to-head. That’s because the wireless network is not password protected, and every Tom, Dick and Harry with a Blackberry or an iPhone is probably surfing the Web in the stands, eating up the bandwidth.
As you’d expect, this is the best crowd of the day—it’s the primetime matchup between two teams separated by just an eight-mile stretch of highway 15-501 (which runs directly behind the DBAP, as well). The seating bowl is mostly full from third base to first, and there are a number of fans down the lines as well. North Carolina fans out-number Duke fans by a wide margin, though Durham is technically the Blue Devils’ home town. There’s even a smattering of fans in the left-field bleachers, though UNC first baseman Dustin Ackley put their lives in danger in the first inning, launching a missile that landed to the left of the giant ACC tarp covering two of the bleacher sections. Then, in the sixth, Ackley homered again, a two-run shot into the second row of the left-field bleachers, closer to the line. That one tied Ackley for the ACC lead with 19 home runs. Ackley has stung the ball in all four plate appearances, singling to center field in his second at-bat and lining a ball off Duke starter Christopher Manno for a 1-4-6 fielder’s choice to drive in a run in the fourth. The Tar Heels lead 7-1 through six innings, as UNC senior righthander Adam Warren has limited the Devils to five hits.
College baseball lost its biggest fan Monday when John Wylde of the Wareham Gatemen died at the age of 70.
Wylde, as the link talks about, helped forge the current Cape Cod League by helping save the Gatemen and then making Wareham the league’s most consistent franchise. Wareham made 17 playoff trips in Wylde’s 25 years with the club, including 13 straight from 1990-2002.
Wyle helped Wareham have the best teams by knowing more about college baseball than just about anyone in the country. He followed the game with a deep passion, which you had to have to follow the game before the Internet. Wylde scoured every source, working the phones, subscribing to newspapers and hunting for leads for new players. BA’s Jim Callis tells a story of his early days here, when Wylde would call late in the summer and ask Jim to send him the stats of other summer college leagues when they were finished.
In recent years Wylde had been slowed by his liver cancer, and he yielded his post as Wareham’s team president last year. In his tenure, the Gatemen had some of the league’s biggest-name alumni, such as the 1998 squad that featured both Ben Sheets and Barry Zito in the rotation, or more recent teams that included the likes of Jeremy Sowers and Justin Masterson.
Most of all, Wylde loved the game, and that passion strengthened not only the Gatemen, but the entire Cape Cod League. He’ll be missed.
We interrupt our College Preview extravaganza to bring you one quick summer league note: The Valley League and Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate League have reached an agreement to face each other in an all-star game on July 15. The game, which will pit a team of 28 Valley stars against a team of 28 Ripken stars, will be televised on MASN and will benefit from not having to go up against any major league games that night, which is the off night that follows the MLB All-Star Game. The game will take place at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, Md., home of the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (a franchise owned by Brooks Robinson). [...] Continue Reading »
The Central Illinois Collegiate League announced Monday that it will change its name to the Prospect League and will expand from five to 11 teams in 2009. The league will now stretch from Missouri to Pennsylvania.
The existing franchises (Danville, Dubois County, Dupage, Quincy and Springfield) will play in the West Division along with an expansion franchise based in Hannibal, Mo. The East Division will be composed of five expansion teams, based in Chillicothe, Ohio; Richmond, Ind.; Lorain, Ohio; Butler, Pa.; and Slippery Rock, Pa. [...] Continue Reading »
The MINK League has attracted quality Big 12 talent in recent years, including Texas outfielder Jordan Danks and Nebraska righthander Charlie Shirek. Now it looks like the league is making a move to become the pre-eminent collegiate summer league in the Midwest.
The MINK announced it will expand from six teams to 10 for the 2009 season. The four new teams are the Sedalia (Mo.) Sluggers, the Joplin (Mo.) Outlaws, the Nevada (Mo.) Griffons, and the St. Joseph (Mo.) Mustangs. The Joplin and Nevada franchises left the Jayhawk League to join the MINK, citing travel costs. The St. Joseph franchise originally applied for membership in the Jayhawk, but withdrew that application and joined the MINK instead upon learning that Nevada and Joplin were taking that route. The 10 teams in the MINK will be split up into two divisions, helping to alleviate travel costs. There will be 34 league games followed by a playoff between the North and South divisions.
Meanwhile, the Jayhawk League will likely be left with a maximum of five teams next year, and the Texas Collegiate League already dropped to four teams last year. Expect to see plenty more talented players in the Midwest wind up in the MINK League.
The Harwich Mariners won their first Cape Cod League championship in 21 years Thursday night, beating Cotuit 2-1 in the decisive third game of the championship series. Mark Fleury (North Carolina) delivered a pinch-hit, two-run single in the ninth inning against Kettleers closer Drew Storen (Stanford), turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win for Harwich.
“Coach (Steve Englert) told me the inning before to get ready, get loose,” Fleury said in a release. “I told him I was ready. The guy (Storen) was throwing hard, I was just trying to get the bat on the ball up in the air somewhere . . . it worked out.”
Joseph Sanders (Auburn) opened the inning with a leadoff triple against Cotuit starter Nick Hernandez (Tennessee), who had kept Harwich off the board for the first seven innings. Storen followed by hitting Brian Kemp (St. John’s) and walking Chase Leavitt (Arkansas) to set up Fleury’s heroics.
Harwich got a strong start from Chris Manno (Duke), who struck out nine while allowing just an unearned run on five hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings. Willie Kempf (Baylor) followed with 2 1/3 scoreless to pick up the win in relief.
Thomasville became the first team to win three consecutive Coastal Plain League championships this weekend, beating Florence 7-4 in the final game of the Petitt Cup tournament championships. A pair of teammates from The Citadel combined to score the eventual game-winning run in the fifth, as Richard Jones singled home Chris McGuiness from second to break a 4-4 tie. A third Bulldog, outfielder Sonny Meade, put the game out of reach with a two-run homer an inning later. Patrick Dean (Boston College) picked up the win for the HiToms, working 2 2/3 innings of three-hit relief.
Thomasville was one of the most talented teams in the league (as our CPL top prospects list will reflect), and its talent won out. We’ll have recaps and top prospects lists from 19 summer leagues later this month.
The Harwich Mariners returned to the Cape Cod League championship series for the first time in 11 years in dramatic fashion. Harwich needed 18 innings to pull out a 1-0 win over Orleans on Sunday, clinching a trip to the finals against the winner of tonight’s decisive third game between Falmouth and Cotuit.
Harwich outfielder Brian Kemp (St. John’s) scored the winning run on a dropped fly ball by Angelo Songco (Loyola Marymount) in the bottom of the 18th. That ended a marathon that featured a combined 470 pitches and 20 runners left on base. Harwich got nine innings of five-hit ball from starter Billy Bullock (Florida), before Steve Kalush (Santa Clara) followed with 5 2/3 innings of stellar work. Orleans got its own heroic pitching efforts in defeat, as starter Matt Thomson (San Diego) struck out eight while allowing just three hits over 7 2/3, Adam Wilk (Long Beach State) followed with 3 2/3 strong innings of relief, and Alex Hassan (Duke) worked the final 6 2/3 after playing the first 11 innings in center field.
If Falmouth wins tonight, Harwich will host the first game of the best-of-three finals on Tuesday. If Cotuit wins, the Kettleers will host. Falmouth forced a decisive third game against Cotuit with a 6-3 win Sunday behind 5 2/3 innings of one-hit work from starter Chris Gloor (Quinnipiac).
The Hampton Whalers’ inaugural season has already been a magical one, and the summer is just halfway over. Hampton righthander Phil Klein, a rising sophomore at Youngstown State, threw the first perfect game in Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League history in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday, needing just 71 pitches to retire all 21 batters he faced in the seven-inning contest. Klein struck out six and went to three-ball counts just three times. He snared a hot comebacker off the bat of Frank Esposito for the final out, just a day after Esposito had broken up Andrew Guarrasi’s no-hitter in the seventh inning. That secured the first ACBL perfect game in the league’s modern era, which dates back to 1977, and set off a frenzied celebration on the field.
"I had a lot of fun with it, and I know everyone there had a lot of fun with it," Klein told Hamptons.com. "Everything worked out well for us–the offense came through, the pitching was good and the defense did a good job. When you’ve got all three of those things working, it’s hard to lose."
Klein has allowed just one earned run over his last three starts to lower his ERA to 1.16. He’ll represent the Kaiser Division in the league’s all-star game, which was originally scheduled for yesterday but was postponed by weather until July 28 at St. John’s.
We’ve got a couple of summer league notes from last week to pass along. On Wednesday, Louisville third baseman Chris Dominguez joined Frank Thomas as the only players ever to hit three home runs in a game with wood bats in the Cape Cod League. Dominguez blasted three homers for the Hyannis Mets in a 6-4 win over Falmouth, driving in five runs in the process and boosting his league-leading homer total to six. He’s added two more since, giving him eight homers for the summer–three more than second-place Connor Powers. Dominguez was a fifth-round pick of the Rockies this June as a draft-eligible sophomore, and his homer binge only increases the chances that Colorado will make a push to sign him before the Aug. 15 deadline. Of course, Dominguez’s power has never been in doubt–he’s been one of the nation’s premier power hitters for the last two years at Louisville. Dominguez has continued to strike out in bushels this summer–he has 28 whiffs and six walks in 90 at-bats–but he is batting a very respectable .278 and leading the league with a .611 slugging percentage and 14 extra-base hits.
On Friday, the Valley League announced that a 12th team will join the league in 2009. The expansion Rockbridge Rapids will play home games under the newly installed lights at Cap’n Dick Smith Field on the campus of Washington and Lee University in Rockbridge County, Va. The addition means the league will have doubled in size from six teams to 12 since 2001.
USA Baseball’s collegiate national team scored a landmark 4-1 win over Cuba in the championship game of Haarlem Baseball Week on Sunday afternoon. Cuba’s team was the same minus one player from its 2004 Olympic gold medal team and its 2006 World Baseball Classic silver medal team, and it is the same team that will represent Cuba at the Beijing Olympics next month. Sunday marked the first time a U.S. collegiate national team has beaten a Cuban Olympic team in a tournament title game, and it was the second win for Team USA over Cuba in an eight-day span, following a 1-0 win last Sunday. The Americans finished with a 7-0 record in Haarlem to improve to 14-0 overall on the summer.
"What this team has accomplished is amazing," Team USA coach Rob Walton said. "These players may not realize the significance of this victory right now, but this was a big win. To beat a team with the history of success that Cuba has is something of which these guys should be proud.”
A newcomer to Team USA played a major role in the win. Cal State Fullerton first baseman Jared Clark, who replaced injured Kentrail Davis on the national team roster last Friday, hit a tie-breaking solo homer to lead off the sixth, giving the Americans a lead they would not relinquish. Clark had made a diving catch in foul ground to end a Cuban threat in the fourth inning after Cuba had already scored an unearned run–its only run of the game. [...] Continue Reading »
John Wylde has been a Cape Cod League icon for nearly 25 years. The longtime president and general manager of the Wareham Gatemen is beloved by countless players, fans and coaches who have passed through the Cape League. Wylde, who is battling liver cancer, will be inducted into the league’s hall of fame tomorrow. [...] Continue Reading »
The Texas Collegiate League quickly established itself as one of the most talent-rich summer college baseball leagues in the country since its inception in 2004, but the league might have played its final game. According to the (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram, seven of the league’s nine teams plan to drop out, but the TCL has responded by suing the teams to prevent them from leaving. TCL teams cite high membership fees as a major obstacle to balancing the books, and one franchise claims to have lost more than $50,000 a year since the league began, according to the paper.
It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of reason for optimism that the league can survive, which is a pity because players enjoy the TCL experience and there is certainly room for a strong summer league in Texas.
UPDATE: The TCL has released this statement in response:
“The Texas Collegiate League is continually focused on providing the best summer league experience for the top professional prospects from colleges throughout the country.Â In only four seasons, TCL has become one of the premier summer collegiate leagues in the nation, and TCL plans on continuing that prestige for 2008 and beyond.Â While TCL continues to pursue its legal remedies and damages against the withdrawing teams, TCL will move forward with league expansion and will do all it can to ensure that 2008 will be another great season for everyone involved.”
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