Cape Cod League Top 30 Prospects
Southern California shortstop Grant Green leads the way
CHICAGO—Eleven players went from the Cape Cod League in 2007 to the first round of the draft in June, including top-10 choices Buster Posey, Yonder Alonso, Gordon Beckham, Aaron Crow and Jason Castro. While the Cape remains the top summer destination for college talent, it probably won't have as profound an effect on next year's draft.
Scouts and managers project just three players as first-round picks in 2009: Chatham shortstop Grant Green, Harwich outfielder Dustin Ackley and Falmouth righthander Ben Tootle. Tootle projects as a reliever, and the consensus was that the overall quality of pitching wasn't up to the Cape's usual standards. The league produced six pitchers who went in the first 10 picks in the 2006 draft, and four who figured in the top 10 choices in 2004.
The statistics provide hard evidence. The league batted .250/.337/.347 and posted a 3.64 ERA—all the highest figures this decade. While the diminished pitching did inflate offensive numbers, no one questioned the bats of Green or Ackley. Green was one of four Cape Leaguers to reach double figures in both extra-base hits and steals . Ackley played just 12 games before leaving to have Tommy John surgery, but he torched pitchers at a .415/.586/.707 clip.
1. Grant Green, ss, Chatham (Southern California).
Green spent 2007 with Yarmouth-Dennis' championship team, shuttling around the infield while Beckham played shortstop. After moving to Chatham, he established himself as the top college position prospect for the 2009 draft. He reminded John Schiffner, his manager, of another Chatham infield star who won league MVP honors in 2005.
"To me, he's Evan Longoria, that's who he is. He's a legitimate five-tool player," he said.
A premium offensive player at a premium position, Green has improved his strength and plate discipline while continuing to maintain a solid whole-field approach. Though he's bigger than most shortstops at 6-foot-3 and 205-pounds, he has the range, arm and actions to remain there. He'll need to cut down on his errors after leading the league with 17 in 35 games there.
"He's somewhere between Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria," a scouting director said. "Green can stay at shortstop and he has the same instincts and lateral movement as Tulowitzki. His bat is comparable to both."
2. Dustin Ackley, of, Harwich (North Carolina).
Between a late arrival from the College World Series and an early departure to have Tommy John surgery, Ackley spent just two weeks on the Cape. He was the most devastating hitter in the league while he was around."He can flat-out hit," Harwich manager Steve Englert said. "The ball seems to stay on his bat forever, and he has some juice . . . I've never seen a two-strike hitter like that."
A crosschecker said that Ackley had the best bat control he's ever seen. He consistently squares balls on the barrel of the bat and maintains exceptional balance at the plate.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is also a good athlete with plus speed, and scouts are anxious to see if he'll be able to move from first base to center field at North Carolina now that his arm is healthy.
3. Matt Harvey, rhp, Chatham (North Carolina).
Many of the league's best pitching prospects won't be eligible for the draft until 2010, and many of them worked as relievers this summer. Both were true of Harvey, who had a light workload after pitching extensively at the CWS. He projects as a starter.
Harvey isn't a finished product and has some effort in his delivery. Some scouts didn't think he was as good as he was in high school, where he once ranked as the top arm in the 2007 prep class. Nevertheless, his 90-96 mph fastball, 82-84 mph hammer curveball and ideal 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame are hard not to love.
"With that curveball and fastball, I think he's the best prospect in the league," Yarmouth- Dennis manager Scott Pickler said. "He needs some more fastball life, but it's still 94."
4. Ben Tootle, rhp, Falmouth (Jacksonville State).
Tootle was a relative unknown before Braves scout Brian Bridges, a former Falmouth pitching coach, tipped off the Commodores about him. Now Tootle could be a first-round pick next year.
Though he stands just 6-foot-1 and 180-pounds, he had the most consistently dominating stuff in the league. He threw his 94-98 mph fastball by all comers and buckled righthanders with a hard slider. He needs to improve his fastball life and command, and must tighten his breaking ball so it's more effective against lefties, but he looks like a late-inning reliever. "He had easy velocity and the best slider in the league," Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy said.
5. Brandon Workman, rhp, Wareham (Texas).
A swingman for Texas as a freshman, Workman was the best prospect among the Cape's starting pitchers, though he won't be draft-eligible for two more years. He led the league with 67 strikeouts in 55 innings, thanks to a 90-92 mph fastball and a 12-to-6 curve.
Workman has a strong 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame, and he has made some progress in smoothing out his delivery. He still needs to refine his mechanics, as well as the consistency of his curveball and his changeup.
6. D.J. Lemahieu, ss, Harwich (Louisiana State).
LeMahieu, who'll be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2009, has an athletic 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame that reminds some scouts of Cal Ripken Jr. He hit for average and gap power for much of the summer before tailing off after coming down with mononucleosis.
LeMahieu has a projectable body and swing, though some observers question his ultimate power and position. Those who like him think he'll be a home run threat once he learns to pull more pitches, and they say he can stay at shortstop rather than moving to third base.
"I think he has a strong chance to play shortstop," the crosschecker said. "He has a big frame but he's fluid, has a good first step and some length in his stride that gives him very good range."
7. A.J. Pollock, of, Falmouth (Notre Dame).
The league MVP, Pollock finished second in the batting race (.377) and first in hits (61), doubles (15), total bases (90) and slugging percentage (.556). He's a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder with pure hitting ability and solid physical tools. His instincts help his average speed play up in center field, and it's possible that he could handle second base.
"It's a simple approach with strong hands, bat speed and a compact swing," one scout said. "He's close to average or better in all five tools. He won't excite you like Grant Green, but he's a good athlete with a chance to play center field."
8. Brett Jackson, of, Cotuit (California).
Jackson is still a work in progress who batted .238 with 39 strikeouts in 40 games. But if he continues to develop next spring, it wouldn't surprise scouts if he blossomed into a first-round pick. He's a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder with a lively bat, good speed and the ability to play anywhere in the outfield.
"He has the body of J.D. Drew," Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said. "He's not as strong at the same age, but he can really run and has a very respectable arm."
9. Jeff Inman: rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis (Stanford).
A sophomore, Inman hinted at his potential by striking out 13 against eventual champion Harwich in his final start of the season. He had three pitches working in that game, a low-90s fastball with late life to go with a good curveball and a changeup.
A 6-foot-3, 190-pounder, Inman throws strikes but lacks consistency with his command and the quality of his pitches.
10. Brad Stillings, rhp, Orleans (Kent State).
Stillings posted a 0.82 ERA despite a mediocre 14-12 K-BB ratio in 22 innings. Inconsistency may lead to a future as a reliever. He has a quick arm and uses his 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame to leverage his low-90s fastball down in the zone when he's going well. His slider has its moments but also flattens out, and he needs better command of his changeup.
11. Robbie Shields, ss, Cotuit (Jr., Florida Southern)
Scouts didn't get a good look at Shields, who was one of the Cape's more dynamic hitters (.349/.431/.605) until he cracked his right wrist and partially tore ligaments in his thumb on a headfirst slide. He has good bat speed and plenty of pop for an infielder. Though he has a strong arm, his speed and defensive actions are just average, so he may have to move off shortstop to second or third base in the future.
"He was the best all-around player in the Cape for the first two weeks of the season," said Roberts, who compared Shields to Aaron Hill. "He would have been one of the top five players in the league had he been healthy."
12. Ben Paulsen, 1b, Hyannis (Jr., Clemson)
Opponents considered Paulsen a more dangerous threat than teammate Chris Dominguez, who led the Cape in homers. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Paulsen finished second in the homer race with eight, showing the ability to work counts and drive the ball to all fields. He still needs to make more contact and improve against lefthanders, but he has good balance at the plate and squares a lot of balls.
"He had as good a swing as anybody in the league," Bourne manager Harvey Shapiro said.
13. Matt Thomson, rhp, Orleans (Jr., San Diego)
A setup man on a loaded San Diego pitching staff during the spring, Thomson opened the summer in the same role before becoming one of the best starters on the Cape. He uses his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame to pound the bottom of the strike zone with his 91-93 mph fastball. He backs up his heater with a solid curveball and changeup.
14. Bryce Stowell, rhp, Bourne (SIGNED: Indians)
Stowell parlayed one of the best summers among Cape starting pitchers (3-1, 2.36, 58-9 K-BB in 46 IP) into a $725,000 bonus as a 22nd-round pick of the Indians. He worked at 89-91 mph and topped out at 93 with his fastball, and he did a good job of locating an improved slider and changeup. He showed more confidence than he did in 2007, when he went 1-5, 3.72 for Hyannis.
15. Shawn Tolleson, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis (R-So., Baylor)
Tolleson looked like a potential first-round pick in high school before blowing out his elbow as a senior, requiring Tommy John surgery that forced him to redshirt in 2007 at Baylor. He could regain that status as a draft-eligible sophomore next spring. Tolleson had a 5.66 ERA in five starts before finding his niche in the bullpen, showing a low-90s fastball and a hard slider while posting a 0.55 ERA in seven appearances.
16. Rich Poythress, 3b, Orleans (Jr., Georgia)
Poythress arrived late from the College World Series and left before the end of the season, but while with Orleans he demonstrated a sound approach, the willingness to hit to all fields and more power than scouts believed he had. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder moved from first base at Georgia to third base at Orleans, a la Cardinals first-round pick Brett Wallace, but Poythress didn't show enough agility to stick at the hot corner for the long run.
17. Kevin Patterson, 1b, Cotuit (So., Auburn)
Patterson is still raw but Roberts compared his offensive ceiling to that of Justin Smoak, the former Cotuit star who went 11th overall in the 2008 draft. Patterson displayed plenty of power potential with wood bats but needs to tighten his strike zone. He's an athletic 6-foot-4, 220-pounder who has enough arm strength to make catching an intriguing possibility.
"That's a tool shed right there," Schiffner said. "What a body, what a swing. Wow."
18. Craig Fritsch, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis (So., Baylor)
Fristch was inconsistent, getting tagged for an 11.32 ERA in his three losses and posting a 1.05 ERA otherwise. When he was on, he located his 91-92 mph fastball very well and also featured a good slider and a usable changeup. There's still a lot of projection remaining in his 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame.
19. Mike Bianucci, of, Cotuit (SIGNED: Rangers)
After getting overmatched at times last summer, Bianucci made more consistent hard contact in his second stint with Cotuit before signing for $175,000 as the Rangers' eighth-round pick. He still lunges at times, leaving him vulnerable to inside fastballs from righthanders, but he offers plenty of strength. A good athlete for a 6-foot-1, 215-pounder, he has average speed and solid arm strength, and it's possible that he could handle third base.
20. Brad Boxberger, rhp, Chatham (Jr., Southern California)
No. 1 prospect Grant Green and Boxberger are the only repeat players from last year's Cape Top 30, and the Southern California teammates both changed Cape addresses this summer. Boxberger moved from Orleans to join Green in Chatham, and he helped his cause by pitching at 94-95 mph in the all-star game. Boxberger also has the makings of a power slider and the makeup and resilience to close games.
21. Chad Bettis, rhp, Falmouth (So., Texas Tech)
Falmouth couldn't match its once-in-a-lifetime 2007 rotation that featured four likely first-round or sandwich picks in Aaron Crow, Christian Friedrich, Kyle Gibson and Shooter Hunt. But the Commodores did have several talented if raw starters, the most impressive of whom was Bettis, who touched 94 mph with his lively fastball and also showed a hard curveball. His size (6 feet, 185 pounds) and inconsistent command may lead to a future as a reliever rather than as a starter.
22. Tim Wheeler, of, Orleans (Jr., Sacramento State)
Wheeler may be the biggest player ever to top the Cape in stolen bases, as the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder swiped 15 this summer. Speed is far from his only tool, as he has a pretty lefthanded swing, average power and a strong arm. He hit more homers for Orleans (four) than he did in 58 games at Sacramento State as a sophomore (three), a sign that he may be starting to blossom.
23. Dusty Coleman, ss, Bourne (SIGNED: Athletics)
Coleman had more all-around ability than most shortstops in the 2008 draft, yet fell to the 28th round because his extra leverage as a sophomore-eligible scared clubs off. After he hit .330 on the Cape, the Athletics signed him for $675,000. Coleman has good pop for a middle infielder, though he sometimes has trouble recognizing and hitting breaking balls. He's an average runner and defender with quality instincts.
24. Evan Danieli, rhp, Falmouth (So., Notre Dame)
Danieli pitched in more games for Falmouth (12) than he did as a highly touted freshman at Notre Dame (nine). He's still figuring out his delivery and his command, but his size (6-foot-8, 230 pounds), fastball (which peaks at 96 mph) and slider (a hard breaker with occasional tilt) could make him a first-round pick in the 2010 draft.
25. Sean Black, rhp, Harwich (Jr., Seton Hall)
The highest unsigned pick in the 2006 draft (second round, Nationals), Black is similar to Danieli in that he's a physical New Jersey high school product who hasn't put it all together yet. A strong, athletic 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, Black has a low-90s fastball that reaches 96 mph when he pitches out of the bullpen. He also has a power 12-to-6 curveball, though his command and consistency are still works in progress.
26. Nick Hernandez, lhp, Cotuit (Jr., Tennessee)
Hernandez doesn't blow hitters away, but he's a lefthander who knows how to pitch and led the Cape in wins (six) and innings (57). He repeats his delivery with ease, allowing him to locate his plus changeup, 89-92 mph fastball and average breaking ball wherever he wants. He also uses his 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame to achieve good downward plane on his pitches.
"He's like a lefthanded James Simmons," said Roberts, referencing the 2007 Athletics first-rounder whom he managed at Cotuit in 2006. "He's a little bigger, but he has similar velocity, a similar changeup and similar consistency. Both of them were born to pitch."
27. Marc Krauss, of, Harwich/Bourne (Jr., Ohio)
Krauss opened the summer as a temp player for Harwich before finding a permanent job with Bourne, coming out of nowhere to lead the league in RBIs (34) and on-base percentage (.473). He has keen strike-zone awareness and an opposite-field approach with the potential for more loft and power in his swing. He's more athletic than most 6-foot-3, 220-pounders and has some arm strength, though scouts were mixed on whether he could play as a corner outfielder or third baseman as opposed to winding up at first base.
28. Matt Bashore, lhp, Wareham (Jr., Indiana)
Bashore had a tender arm when he arrived in Wareham, so he spent the first half of the season in the bullpen and was kept on a tight leash all summer. His best outing was his last, when he worked from 88-92 mph with his fastball and showed a solid curveball and changeup as well. His arm works well and he hit 94 mph when he was at full strength during the spring, though his control and command aren't as impressive as his stuff.
29. Ryan Wheeler, 1b, Brewster (Jr., Loyola Marymount)
Wheeler (no relation to Tim) is another 6-foot-4, lefty-swinging first baseman in the mold of Ben Paulsen and Kevin Patterson. As with them, power is his best tool and he needs to make some strides with his plate discipline. He's not quite as athletic as Paulsen or Patterson, so Wheeler won't be able to play a more challenging position, but he's surehanded at first base.
30. Chris Dominguez, 3b, Hyannis (Jr., Louisville)
A fifth-round pick of the Rockies as a draft-eligible sophomore, Dominguez couldn't come to terms and instead led the Cape in homers (10) and extra-base hits (22). He was much improved over 2007, when he hit .216 with 38 strikeouts in 104 at-bats for Hyannis, but he still swings and misses too much (51 whiffs in 168 at-bats). His size (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) and cannon arm add to his intrigue, though many scouts wonder if he'll ever hit breaking balls and believe he may have a brighter future on the mound.
"If that kid makes contact, the ball has a chance to go 440 feet," said Trundy, whose Falmouth club Dominguez victimized for three homers in one game. "He's as strong as a bull. It's such easy power. His batting practice at the all-star game was ridiculous. If he gets to where he makes consistent contact, he'll be very good."