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Devastating Miller leads Cape prospect list

By Jim Callis
August 13, 2004

CHICAGO--The top of our annual Cape Cod League prospect rankings often resembles the top of the subsequent major league draft list. All six of the draft-eligible players on BA's 2003 Cape Top 10 list went in the first round of the 2004 draft.

Rice righthanders Philip Humber (Yarmouth-Dennis), Jeff Niemann (Harwich) and Wade Townsend (Wareham) went off the board in the first eight picks, as did Vanderbilt lefty Jeremy Sowers (Wareham). Oklahoma lefty David Purcey (Orleans) and Boston College righty Chris Lambert (Chatham) were the 16th and 19th overall choices.

Pro teams will have to wait an extra year before they can get their hands on this summer's No. 1 prospect, however. That's because Chatham lefthander Andrew Miller is just entering his sophomore year at North Carolina.

Miller turned in two of the Cape's most talked-about performances in 2004--neither of which counted in the league's official stats. He struck out the side four times in four innings against Falmouth before the game was called because of fog, then needed just 15 pitches to fan the side in order during the all-star game.

1. Andrew Miller, lhp, Chatham (North Carolina)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
2-0 0 2.03 7 40.0 19 9 9 26 48
Had he been signable, Miller would have been an early first-round pick out of high school in 2003. Scouts are marveling that his stuff has continued to improve, as he overmatches hitters with a 94-96 mph fastball and an 82-85 mph slider. The scary thing is that he'll get even better as he fills out his 6-foot-6, 190-pound frame and improves his command.

"His arm is so electric," Chatham manager John Schiffner said. "His breaking pitch is devastating when it's on, and his fastball is amazing. He was unbelievable in the all-star game."

Miller won his only two decisions but had a 2.03 ERA and struck out 48 in 40 innings, though he walked 26 and hit 10 batters.

2. Tyler Greene, ss, Orleans (Georgia Tech)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
33 125 23 37 7 3 1 13 .296 .413 .424
Scouts voted Greene, who played with Team USA last summer, the winner of the league's official top-prospect award. A defensive standout with questionable hitting skills in high school, he's now a rare five-tool shortstop.

"He was skinny and couldn't handle the bat in high school," an American League scouting director said, "but he's a beast now." His arm, hands and range are all above-average, though Greene got a little lackadaisical on routine plays this summer. He made 16 errors in 32 games.

3. Craig Hansen, rhp, Harwich (St. John's)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
1-1 10 0.00 20 22.1 9 3 0 2 41
Hansen's numbers are as sick as the combination of his mid-90s fastball and high-80s slider. He didn't allow an earned run, had a 41-2 strikeout-walk ratio in 22 innings, and the league hit .120 against him. His delivery, control and changeup may allow him to become a big league starter.

4. Dallas Buck, rhp, Falmouth (Oregon State)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
4-1 0 0.77 10 58.1 26 8 5 20 65
Buck didn't light up radar guns like some of the other Cape arms, but no one beat his 0.77 ERA. His low-90s fastball and slider dance around bats, and he has a lively changeup as well. The only knock on him is that his delivery could be cleaner.

"His stuff is like David Cone's," a National League scouting director said. "He has a really live, hard slider and just wicked, wicked stuff. His stuff is so electric. It's moving everywhere."

5. Stephen Head, 1b/lhp, Chatham (Mississippi)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
31 118 11 32 5 1 3 15 .271 .333 .407
Head had one of the best pure swings on the Cape and hit .271-3-15 upon joining Chatham after being released by Team USA. He's still learning to drive the ball for power, but there's little doubt that it eventually will come, and he's also a solid defender at first base. Head, who has good command of decent stuff, had six wins and five saves for Mississippi this spring but didn't pitch for Chatham.

6. Mark McCormick, rhp, Wareham (Baylor)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
2-1 0 0.93 6 38.2 20 6 4 17 47
McCormick was also No. 6 on this list a year ago, and he still has the same 94-98 mph fastball and tantalizing curveball. He still needs to show more life with his heater and more consistency with his curve. And he still hasn't allayed command and makeup concerns that have existed since his high school days. McCormick went 2-1, 0.93 with 47 strikeouts in 39 innings for Wareham before departing the Cape with a bicep strain in his pitching arm. He didn't pitch again after being clocked at 101 mph in a one-inning stint in the all-star game.

7. Daniel Carte, of, Falmouth (Winthrop)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
43 159 30 49 5 1 11 38 .308 .402 .560
Carte began the summer in an 0-for-19 slump and ended it as the Cape's MVP. He led the league in homers (11), RBIs (38) and slugging percentage (.560), and he became the sixth player ever to reach double figures in longballs and steals (13). Not physically imposing at 6 feet and 190 pounds, he does damage with quick hands and strong forearms. His other tools are solid across the board.

8. Ryan Mullins, lhp, Chatham (Vanderbilt)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
5-1 0 1.82 7 54.1 37 12 11 7 64
He's not as scary as Miller, but Mullins was the Cape's most polished pitcher and trumped his Chatham teammate in ERA (1.82 to 2.03) and K-BB ratio (9.1 to 1.8). Mullins, the top prospect in the New England Collegiate League last summer, has three solid pitches: an 86-91 mph fastball he throws to both sides of the plate, a slider and a changeup.

"He dominates the game and you don't know it," Schiffner said. "He'll three-hit you with 12 strikeouts before you realize it."

9. Cliff Pennington, ss, Falmouth (Texas A&M)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
39 148 26 41 8 1 3 20 .277 .368 .405
A 5-foot-11 scrapper, Pennington was an easy choice for the league's 10th player award. He led the Cape in steals (21), showed good discipline and some pop from both sides of the plate, and got the job done defensively. He also helped lead Falmouth, which went 0-5 before he arrived, to the Western Division title.

"Cliff is one of those kids who makes any team better," Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy said. "He does so many things. He has great range, he's a tough out at the plate, he has a strong arm and he runs well. The most impressive thing might be that he never takes a pitch off."

10. Kevin Whelan, rhp, Wareham (Texas A&M)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
2-2 11 0.42 18 21.2 9 4 1 6 31
The Cape's saves leader (11) and reliever of the year, Whelan pitched just nine innings because he was the backup catcher at Texas A&M this spring. He's similar to Hansen but less polished. Whelan touches 96 mph with a four-seam fastball and has a two-seamer that dives so much it gets mistaken for a splitter.

11. Robert Ray, rhp, Wareham (Texas A&M)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
2-1 0 1.93 15 32.2 21 10 7 18 57
The third straight Aggie on this list, Ray blossomed on the Cape just like his Texas A&M and Wareham teammate Whelan. Long, lean and projectable at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, Ray features a 91-92 mph fastball that plays bigger than its velocity because it seems to explode at the plate. He flashes a plus curveball and average changeup, and scouts expect him to get better. In 33 innings, he fanned 57 batters.

12. Chris Leroux, rhp, Falmouth (Winthrop)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
2-1 2 2.08 19 26.0 13 6 6 9 38
A Devil Rays ninth-round pick out of high school and a member of the Canadian junior national team as a catcher, Leroux also spent much of his first two years at Winthrop behind the plate. Falmouth recruited him as a catcher but quickly moved him to the mound to take advantage of his 91-96 mph fastball and plus slider. He's still not convinced his future is as a pitcher, but that's his ticket to going in the second or third round next year.

13. Zach Ward, rhp, Harwich (Gardner-Webb)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
2-3 0 1.05 9 42.2 27 12 5 22 57
Ward finished eighth in NCAA Division I with 12.0 strikeouts per nine innings as sophomore, then legitimized himself by continuing to blow away hitters on the Cape. He carves up hitters with a heavy two-seam fastball, a 92-94 mph four-seamer and a crisp slider. His short arm action bothers some observers and sometimes causes his stuff to drop off in the middle innings. That still didn't stop an AL scouting director from labeling Ward as a possible first-round pick.

"He throws cannonballs," Harwich manager Steve Englert said. "Everyone thinks it's a splitter, but it's a fastball. It just dives."

14. Mark Hamilton, 1b, Falmouth (Tulane)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
37 130 14 33 5 0 7 29 .254 .349 .454
A work in progress who got better as the summer wore on, Hamilton has the power teams want in a first baseman. A solid 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, he had one of the prettier swings on the Cape. He also was the league's most impressive freshman hitter, finishing third in home runs (seven) and RBIs (29).

15. Micah Owings, of/rhp, Bourne (Georgia Tech)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
16 58 4 20 2 0 2 10 .345 .367 .483
Owings dropped from a Rockies second-round pick out of high school to a Cubs 19th-rounder in 2004, because his signability as a draft-eligible sophomore was in question. Also uncertain is what position he'll play as a pro.

W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
1-1 1 0.69 4 13.0 10 1 1 3 19

Owings' ceiling is higher as a corner outfielder because he can hit baseballs further than most. But he also has a long swing and is overly aggressive at the plate, so he can be pitched to. He's a safer bet on the mound, though his 89-90 mph sinker and OK slider may make him nothing more than a setup man. The one constant in both roles is his bulldog attitude.

16. Justin Maxwell, of, Cotuit (Maryland)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
17 57 10 15 4 0 1 3 .263 .382 .386
Maxwell was the Cape's biggest success story in 2003. After Bourne signed him out of a tryout camp, he emerged as the best athlete in the league, not to mention a possible first-round pick.

His encore wasn't as pleasant, as he missed the entire spring at Maryland when an errant pitch broke the ulna in his right arm during preseason drills. Trying to make up for lost time with Cotuit, he got into just 17 games before another hit by pitch broke his right hand and ended his summer. Before he got hurt, Maxwell showed the same solid-or-better tools across the board he did a year ago.

17. Jacoby Ellsbury, of, Falmouth (Oregon State)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
28 110 20 27 2 3 1 7 .245 .376 .345
The fastest player on the Cape, Ellsbury understands that his role is to get on base rather than hit home runs. While he'll probably never hit for much power, one NL crosschecker says he needs to get stronger in order to handle quality fastballs. Though he played left field for Falmouth, Ellsbury is a quality center fielder who can go get balls in the gaps.

18. Matt Antonelli, 3b, Falmouth (Wake Forest)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
42 150 26 42 3 0 2 13 .280 .413 .340
Very athletic for a third baseman, Antonelli drew comparisons to David Bell and Jeff Cirillo and even played shortstop before Pennington joined the Commodores. An outstanding defender with arm strength and quick reactions, he also shows a short stroke and fine discipline at the plate. His power potential is evident in batting practice, though he'll need to add strength.

19. Mike Costanzo, 1b/rhp, Hyannis (Coastal Carolina)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
44 167 25 39 8 1 6 30 .234 .296 .401
Costanzo did it all in the season-ending victory that put Hyannis in the playoffs. He brought the Mets back from a run down with a two-run homer in the eighth. After he surrendered the tying run in the ninth, he pitched a scoreless 10th and scored the winning run in the bottom half.

W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
1-1 4 0.00 13 15.2 7 3 0 9 24

Though Costanzo didn't allow an earned run in 16 innings thanks to a 90-91 mph and a 12-to-6 breaking ball, pro clubs are more interested in his bat. He had one of the best bodies (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and some of the best loft power on the Cape, though he needs to close some holes in his swing. With his arm strength, converting him to a catcher would be an intriguing possibility.

20. Clete Thomas, of, Harwich (Auburn)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
33 116 17 28 5 3 3 15 .241 .341 .414
If Thomas, an unsigned fifth-round pick out of high school, can make some adjustments at the plate, he can be a five-tool player. His 6.5 speed in the 60-yard dash makes him an asset on the bases and in right field, and he has plenty of strength in his bat and arm. But his timing looked off this summer, as he didn't incorporate his lower half in his swing and allowed balls to get deep on him too easily.

21. Jensen Lewis, rhp, Falmouth (Vanderbilt)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
4-0 0 1.73 8 52.0 36 10 10 15 53
A setup man for Falmouth last year, Lewis allowed just 10 runs in eight starts this summer. His fastball ranges from 89-94 mph, his slider varies from flat to sharp and his changeup is effective. He's a strike-throwing machine who works quickly, changes speed and keeps the ball down in the zone. His feel for pitching allows him to win without his best stuff.

22. Kyle Bono, rhp, Chatham (Central Florida/signed with Red Sox)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
1-0 7 0.00 12 15.2 5 0 0 5 22
Bono didn't surrender a run in 12 appearances and shackled Cape hitters to a .100 average before signing with the Red Sox for $432,000, a record for an eighth-round pick. "Every pitch was an aspirin," Englert said. "He threw everything by us."

Bono's heavy 88-91 mph sinker and his changeup are his two best pitches. His slider is rather ordinary, though he locates it well in the strike zone. Aggressive going after hitters, he projects as a pro reliever.

23. Justin Blaine, lhp, Yarmouth-Dennis (San Diego)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
4-2 0 2.53 12 46.1 33 17 13 15 56
After Miller and Mullins, there was no consensus on how the rest of the Cape's lefties stacked up. Most of them were finesse pitchers with good command who will fit in the back of a pro rotation. A swingman for Yarmouth-Dennis, Blaine looked better coming out of the bullpen. He pitched in the high 80s and showed a good slider, and he gave lefties fits with a cut fastball.

24. Danny Perales, of, Falmouth (Southern California)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
40 142 19 42 10 1 3 16 .296 .329 .444
Falmouth had the most talented club in the league, and Perales is the ninth Commodore on this list. His compact swing was universally admired, and the NL scouting director compared it to Jody Gerut's. Perales already uses the entire field, though like most freshmen he needs to get stronger. He's not a blazer, but he established himself well enough in center field to keep the position after Ellsbury arrived.

25. Dan Brauer, lhp, Harwich (Northwestern)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
6-2 0 1.90 8 47.1 31 13 10 20 65
Brauer isn't overly impressive on first glance. His fastball sits at 85-88 mph, and his curveball, slider and changeup don't qualify as out pitches either. But he locates all four of his pitches on both sides of the plate, keeps the ball down in the zone and lulls hitters to sleep. He shared the Cape lead in wins (six) and tied for second in strikeouts (65 in 47 innings).

"He's my favorite player in seven years up here," Englert said. "He comes out and competes every night. He can compete with anyone in the nation."

26. Adam Davis, of/ss, Yarmouth-Dennis (Florida)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
38 149 17 40 4 1 3 13 .268 .341 .369
Davis is just 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, but he's long on versatility. He played center field, shortstop, second base and third base for Yarmouth-Dennis, and his speed and arm enabled him to handle each position capably. He probably fits best in the middle infield. Scouts liked his hitting and basestealing ability, though he'll need to make more contact after striking out 52 times (second-most in the league) in 149 at-bats.

27. Matt Avery, rhp, Brewster (Virginia)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
4-1 0 1.99 6 31.2 31 11 7 10 22
Avery missed 2 1/2 weeks with a sore shoulder, but he was Brewster's best pitcher at the end of the summer and had the most upside on the Whitecaps staff. He's 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds and throws strikes with an 89-94 mph fastball, a fringe average slider and a decent changeup.

28. Chris Nicoll, rhp, Orleans (UC Irvine)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
4-1 0 1.70 9 53.0 36 14 10 15 42
Scouts noted Nicoll's improved velocity, which moved from 86 mph in the spring to 89-91 this summer, including a peak of 93 in the all-star game. His fastball is most notable for it's darting life, so the extra oomph made it unhittable at times. He also has good command of his breaking ball and changeup.

29. Matt Goyen, lhp, Brewster (Georgia College)
W-L SV ERA G IP H R ER BB SO
5-2 0 1.25 9 57.2 42 12 8 14 80
When a 6-foot-5, 220-pound lefty leads the Cape with 80 strikeouts in 58 innings, it would be natural to assume that he has overpowering stuff. Think again. Goyen won the strikeout title and the pitcher-of-the-year award with the best changeup in the league and a deceptive delivery that befuddles hitters. His mid-80s fastball peaks at 89 mph and his curveball drew mixed reviews, but his changeup makes both those pitches better.

30. Mike Bell, 3b, Wareham (Grayson County, Texas, CC)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
12 42 9 15 2 0 2 5 .357 .426 .548
In 2003, Andy LaRoche went to Wareham and parlayed a big summer into a $1 million bonus from the Dodgers. The Gatemen unveiled another promising Grayson County CC shortstop this year in Bell, but he received far less exposure. He began the summer playing with a junior college all-star team that traveled to Taiwan, and by the time he got to the Cape most scouts had moved on.

In the final two weeks, Bell hit .357 with power, ran well, showed a strong arm and did a good job after shifting to the hot corner. Wareham manager Cooper Farris said Bell reminded him of former Gatemen star Aaron Hill, who became a 2003 first-round pick and is now a rising star in the Blue Jays system. Surprisingly, Bell went undrafted in June after his freshman year at Grayson.

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