Baseball America is pleased to present Cape Cod League video this summer courtesy of OnDeck Digital, an exciting new company founded by former Southern California star and major leaguer Randy Flores. OnDeck is filming Cape League games in high definition from multiple camera angles, allowing customers to watch at-bats in a split screen that shows every pitch from behind the plate and from the side, alongside a panel displaying the game situation and pitch velocity. Customers can watch entire condensed games, or choose to only view clips of a particular player. For more information, visit OnDeckDigital.com.
In the first game of their opening-round series against Yarmouth-Dennis, the Firebirds handed the ball to ace righthander Kolton Mahoney (Brigham Young), the BFC Whitehouse Outstanding Pitcher of the Cape Cod League this summer. After going 3-2, 1.93 and tying for the Cape League lead with 47 strikeouts in 37 innings (along with just 12 walks) in the regular season, Mahoney saved his best for the playoffs.
Mahoney racked up 13 strikeouts over seven innings of four-hit, shutout ball to lead Orleans to a 3-0 win against Y-D in the opener.
“There was no way I was going to let them score, especially in a game like this," Mahoney said afterward, per the Orleans website.
A 6-foot-1, 193-pound righthander, Mahoney has power stuff, but talent isn't the only thing that has made him a staff leader for the Firebirds. The 22-year-old posted a 2.42 ERA in relief as a freshman in 2011, then went on a two-year Mormon mission. He returned last summer, then went 6-6, 3.97 as a starter this spring. He was drafted in the 23rd round by the Brewers but elected to boost his stock in the Cape and next year for BYU. His maturity has been a huge asset for Orleans.
“We're lucky to have him," Orleans coach Kelly Nicholson said. “He's a great kid. He's older, and he's got a fresh arm. No doubt, he's been a positive presence in the clubhouse; he takes some of the younger guys under his wing. He's got a lot of presence on the mound."
He's also got a lot of stuff. Mahoney's fastball sat at 92-94 during his inning at the Cape League all-star game, and he showed a pair of quality breaking balls in his 80-81 slider and his 76-77 curve. Nicholson said he usually sits around 90-92 as a starter but can touch more when he needs to.
“I think his slider is his strikeout pitch," Nicholson said. “I'd guess that 30 to 35 of his strikeouts this summer were sliders. But he commands the fastball really well, and it's four pitches for strikes."
Orleans lefthander Kyle Twomey (Southern California) also stands out for his fastball command. His feel for this pitch and his projectability helped him rank No. 62 on the BA 500 out of high school and got him drafted in the third round by the Athletics, but his college career has had ups and downs thus far. He went 2-8, 5.55 in the USC rotation as a freshman, then posted a 4.63 ERA for Orleans last summer.
He spent most of this spring in the Trojans bullpen, posting a 3.11 ERA, and he continued to improve this summer, split between starting and relieving. In 14 appearances (five starts) for the Firebirds, Twomey went 2-0, 2.23 with 39 strikeouts and 10 walks in 40 innings. Reducing his walk rate has been a big key; last summer he issued 15 free passes in 23 innings.
“It's been fun to watch; he's really cut down on his walks. He's really made a lot of progress from last summer to this," Nicholson said. “It's his confidence level and his command of the fastball. A year of being on the Cape has done him a ton of good. I think he's realizing he can pitch off of his fastball. The fastball slides and it sinks, it's down, and it's good—90-92 and comes out easy. I think what he's learned to do is not try to go to the black; it's white-on-white, keep the baseball on the white part of the plate, kind of down the middle and let it do what it's going to do. He's making 'down' a priority rather than 'in and out.'"
Twomey's No. 2 pitch has been his changeup since high school, and it still is. He has advanced feel for it and has shown the ability to use it as a strikeout pitch against very dangerous righthanded hitters. But his curveball and slider remain works in progress.
“He really slows down on his breaking stuff. He just needs to learn to have the same type of arm speed, the same type of body language as he has with his fastball and throw it with conviction," Nicholson said. “The curveball is still big and loopy, the slider shows flashes. He threw some good sliders his last outing. His secondary stuff is coming. He's got a great work ethic and a great attitude, and he comes to the part every day as a good teammate. He's come up here and really worked."