Looking At Hot Starts On The Cape

Editor’s Note: BA intern Peter Wardell is spending the summer in the Cape Cod League, where he will take a weekly look at which players are hot and have a report here on the College Blog. This first CCBL hot sheet takes a look at the top performers up to this point of the summer season. Statistics reflect performance through Monday, July 2. Hot sheets from here on out will look at weekly performances.

1. Phillip Ervin, cf, Harwich Mariners (Jr., Samford)

By The Numbers: .364/.462/.873, 8 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 17 R, 16 RBI, 6 BB, 8 SO, 5-for-5 SB

Ervin has gotten off to a torrid pace on the Cape this summer. Through just 15 games, the rising junior has mashed a league-leading eight home runs, a number that has already eclipsed the season-ending totals of both the 2011 and 2010 CCBL home run champions. At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Ervin doesn’t possess a typical power hitter’s frame, instead utilizing lightning-quick hands, good bat control and patience at the plate. “He’s a very disciplined hitter,” said Harwich manager Steve Englert. “He has a great approach and is just playing relaxed.”

While it’s his offensive outburst that has garnered the attention of scouts thus far, Ervin’s performance in center field has been notable as well. He is an above-average runner with good instincts and a strong, accurate arm. He’s displayed adequate route running and good range, giving him the potential for five average to above-average tools.

2. Aaron Blair, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis (Jr., Marshall)

Statistics: 3-0, 0.50, 18 IP, 3 GS, 12 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 25 SO

Blair has had an outstanding start of his own, earning back-to-back CCBL pitcher of the week honors to open the summer. After striking out eight over five innings on Opening Day, Blair has thrown a pair of gems against Brewster, including a 10-strikeout, one-walk performance on June 28. The rising junior has shown solid feel for pitching, an impressive three-pitch mix (fastball, curveball, changeup) and confidence to throw any of his offerings in any count. “He preps himself the right way,” Y-D manager Scott Pickler said. “He doesn’t take pitches off and attacks the zone. His competitiveness is what makes him so tough.”

3. Robert Pehl, 2b/of, Yarmouth-Dennis (So., Washington)

Statistics: .455/.523/.745, 7 2B, 3 HR, 14 R, 14 RBI, 7 BB, 13 SO

Blair’s Y-D teammate, Robert Pehl has been one of the biggest surprises three weeks into the summer, leading the CCBL with his .455 batting average and seven doubles, while ranking near the top in both runs and RBIs. As of July 2, the rising sophomorehad posted multi-hit games in six of his last seven starts while showing good strike zone knowledge and patience. “He does a great job of using his hands,” Pickler said. “He relaxes at the plate, he’s confident up there and it’s worked out for him.”

4. Tony Kemp, cf, Cotuit (Jr., Vanderbilt)

Statistics: .324/.468/.568, 3 2B, 3 3B, 13 R, 7 RBI, 10 BB, 7 SO, 8-for-11 SB

The 5-foot-6, 165-pound Kemp has quickly established himself as one of the league’s most dynamic talents, while batting leadoff and playing center field for the Kettleers. Since going 0-for-2 in his first game on June 17, the rising junior has reached base in 11 straight contests, reaching more than once in eight of them. Kemp has shown impressive athleticism both in center field, where he displays above-average range, and on the basepaths, where his eight stolen bases rank third in the CCBL.

5. Sean Manaea, lhp, Hyannis (Jr., Indiana State)

Statistics: 0-1, 3.06, 18 IP, 4 G, 3 GS, 8 H, 10 R, 6 ER, 6 BB, 29 SO

Manaea, a rising junior at Indiana State, has gotten off to an early lead in the CCBL strikeout race, fanning 29 through 18 innings. While his ERA may indicate otherwise, the 6-foot-5, 215-pounder has been dominant on the mound thus far, holding opposing batters to a .129 batting average, best in the league. “He’s pretty electric,” Hyannis manager Chad Gassman said. “When he’s putting it where he wants to, he’s been pretty tough to beat.”

6. Austin Wilson, rf, Harwich (Jr., Stanford)

Statistics: .355/.487/.968, 5 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B, 9 R, 12 RBI, 6 BB, 11 SO, 1-for-1 SB

A bit overshadowed by Harwich teammate Phil Ervin, Wilson has gotten off to a hot start of his own, crushing five home runs in his first nine games. Wilson, who struggled in the Cape last summer, has looked much more comfortable in his second go-around. “We won a championship with him last year so guys look to him as a leader,” Englert said. “He’s been through it before. He knows what to expect and how much of a grind it is.” In addition, the rising juniorhas proven to be a solid right fielder, displaying a plus arm and above-average speed.

7. Kevin Ziomek, lhp, Cotuit (Jr., Vanderbilt)

Statistics: 1-0, 1.72, 16 IP, 3 GS, 11 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 25 SO

After an uneven spring, Ziomek has gotten off to a strong start in the Cape, dominating through his first three outings. The rising junior has struck out eight in each start and has allowed just three extra-base hits thus far. In his most recent start at Bourne on July 1, Ziomek struck out nine, while allowing three hits and walking just one in 6.1 innings of work.

8. Aaron Nola, rhp, Harwich (So., Louisiana State)

Statistics: 2-0, 0.82, 11 IP, 2 GS, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 15 SO

After earning second-team freshman All-America honors at LSU, Nola has impressed early on in the Cape, earning a pair of victories while giving up just one run. In his summer debut against Hyannis on June 19, Nola struck out 10 and allowed just two hits over five innings. The rising sophomore followed it up with another solid outing at Y-D, striking out five and showing tremendous composure and confidence while pitching down 1-0 throughout most of his outing. “He’s a really competitive kid,” Steve Englert said. “He pounds the strike zone and really just knows how to pitch.”

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