Cape Cod League Top 30 Prospects
The Cape Cod League remains college baseball's premier summer circuit, but talent evaluators weren't overwhelmed by the prospect crop this year. If reviews of Team USA and the Cape League prove correct, the first round of the 2010 draft will be dominated by high schoolers.
"It just didn't have the impact players it did in the past," a National League scouting director said. "You couldn't point to any one guy and say that there's any wow factor there."
"The talent level is the worst it's been since I've been coaching up here," said Mike Roberts, who has managed Cotuit for six seasons and had two previous one-year stints with Wareham. "Major League Baseball has signed more guys out of high school, and you can see where it's making a major dent on college baseball."
The Cape League wasn't bereft of talent and did serve as a coming-out party for several players. Yarmouth-Dennis' Chris Sale didn't draw a lot of attention at Florida Gulf Coast, but now could be the first lefthander drafted next June. After working just eight innings as a freshman at Vanderbilt, Wareham righthander Jack Armstrong hit 96 mph during the league's all-star game at Fenway Park.
Righthander Jesse Hahn, who won four games in his first two seasons at Virginia Tech, reached 98 mph for Chatham. Falmouth outfielder Todd Cunningham won the batting title at .378, 39 points better than he hit with metal bats at Jacksonville State.
1. Chris Sale, lhp, Yarmouth-Dennis (Jr., Florida Gulf Coast)
Sale won the Cape's pitcher of the year award after tying for the league lead with four victories and topping the Cape with 57 strikeouts and 55 innings. He was also the East Division's MVP at the all-star game, where he required just six pitches to work a perfect inning.
Sale has a lean 6-foot-6, 185-pound frame and comes at hitters from a low arm slot. His fastball sits at 90-93 mph, features good life and should continue to add velocity as he fills out. His changeup gives him an effective weapon against righthanders, while his breaking ball needs refinement.
"He throws strikes from a low-three-quarters angle and makes it difficult on guys," an American League scouting director said. "I saw him up to 95 in the all-star game, and he showed me he can command three pitches."
2. Zack Cox, 3b, Cotuit (So., Arkansas)
After hitting .266 as a freshman on Arkansas' College World Series team, Cox stopped trying to pull everything and let his lefthanded power come naturally. He hit .344 for league runner-up Cotuit and was the West Division's all-star MVP, accounting for all three of the game's runs with a triple and single in two at-bats.
"He's an outstanding offensive player," Roberts said. "He hits the ball the other way as well as any player I've coached on the Cape."
The 6-foot, 215-pound Cox must show more patience (three walks in 23 games) and prove he can stay at third base. He has a plus arm and has pitched for the Razorbacks, but he'll need to improve his hands and range as a draft-eligible sophomore next year.
3. Alex Wimmers, rhp, Bourne (Jr., Ohio State)
The Big Ten Conference co-pitcher of the year, Wimmers arrived late but was the ace of a pitching staff that led Bourne to its first-ever championship. Including the playoffs, he had a 1.04 ERA and struck out 46 in 26 innings.
Solidly built at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Wimmers had the most polished stuff on the Cape. He works with a 90-92 mph fastball, and both his changeup and his curveball drew votes from league observers as his best pitch.
4. Jedd Gyorko, 3b/2b, Brewster (Jr., West Virginia)
Cox has the advantages of batting lefthanded and owning a little more natural strength, but Gyorko was the best pure hitter on the Cape. He recognizes pitches well, employs a sound two-strike approach and uses the entire field.
"He has a little hitch in his swing but he has the strongest hands in the league," Brewster manager Tom Myers said. "He's a smaller version of Kevin Youkilis."
Both scouting directors compared Gyorko to another all-star, Dan Uggla, but disagreed on whether he'd fit better at second or third base. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has fringy speed and range to go with a decent arm.
5. Bryan Morgado, lhp, Bourne (Jr., Tennessee)
After the White Sox added $117 million in contracts by acquiring Jake Peavy and Alexis Rios, they opted not to give an over-slot bonus to Morgado, their third-round pick. They may come to regret that decision, because he had the most electric stuff of any lefty in the league.
Following a rough spring at Tennessee, Morgado still battled his command and delivery at times with Bourne. But at his best, the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder showed a low-90s fastball that touched 95, a tight slider and the makings of a useful changeup. Though he was draft-eligible as a redshirt sophomore—he missed 2007 following Tommy John surgery—he's still just 20.
"He was the best pitcher in the league, the most complete pitcher in the league," Chatham manager John Schiffner said. "Velocity, makeup, breaking ball—it's all good."
6. Jack Armstrong Jr., rhp, Wareham (So., Vanderbilt)
Armstrong had as much upside as any Cape pitcher. The son of a former big league all-star, he sits at 93-95 mph with his fastball early in starts. At 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, he throws on a steep downhill plane and didn't allow a home run in 35 innings.
He needs to improve his breaking ball, command and mound presence, but he's young and the raw ability is there.
"He really made strides in his ability to pitch," the NL scouting director said. "I got him up to 96. He still has a ways to go with his breaking ball, but he showed a really good changeup. When it all shakes out, he might be the class of the league."
7. Brandon Workman, rhp, Wareham (Jr., Texas)
Workman ranked fifth and was the top starting pitcher on this list a year ago, when he led the Cape in strikeouts. He wasn't as sharp this summer, posting a 5.06 ERA and looking a bit tired after Texas' run to the College World Series finals.
Some evaluators still liked him better than Armstrong, and the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Workman has better command and poise. He doesn't throw as hard, though he works at 90-92 mph and touched 96 in the all-star game. He had one of the better 12-to-6 curveballs on the Cape, but it was more inconsistent this summer.
8. Jesse Hahn, rhp, Chatham (Jr. Virginia Tech)
Two of the Cape's hardest-throwing relievers were Virginia Tech teammates Hahn and Mathew Price (Harwich). Hahn was limited by tendinitis in his middle finger, but he was still the only Cape pitcher to reach 98 mph.
Hahn usually operates at 95-96 mph and has the room to add a lot of strength on his 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame. If he can improve the consistency of his hammer curveball, control and overall performance, he'll be a first-round pick next June.
9. Todd Cunningham, of, Falmouth (Jr., Jacksonville State)
Cunningham won the Texas Collegiate League batting title at .310 last summer, a prelude to leading the Cape in hitting and on-base percentage (.458). Several league observers were surprised that he won the league's top-prospect award, as voted by scouts, but no one denied his hitting ability.
"He barrels up so many balls," Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy said. "He doesn't have any holes in his swing from the right or left side. He's exceptionally mature with his approach. He knows his strengths. When he gets ahead in the count, he knows what to do."
Cunningham is similar to 2008 Cape MVP A.J. Pollock, whom the Diamondbacks drafted 17th overall this year. He's a gifted hitter and is athletic but lacks a second standout tool. The 6-foot, 200-pounder has gap power and good speed, plus the chance to stick in center field.
10. Jorge Reyes, rhp, Orleans (SIGNED: Padres)
Reyes had an enigmatic career at Oregon State. He was College World Series Most Outstanding Player as a freshman, terrible as a sophomore and up and down this spring. After the Padres drafted him in the 17th round, he helped his cause with a 1.06 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 34 innings for Orleans, earning a $200,000 bonus at the signing deadline.
Six-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Reyes pitched down in the strike zone with a 90-91 mph sinker that touched 94. His plus slider and command both looked better than they did with the Beavers.
"After I saw him, I called our area scout and supervisor out there and asked him why I wasn't given his name to see in the spring," the NL scouting director said. "He was good, at least a second-round talent."
11. Brett Eibner, 1b/of/rhp, Wareham (Jr., Arkansas)
Eibner was the most physically gifted player on the Cape. He's an athletic 6-foot-3, 205-pounder who had as much raw righthanded power as anyone in the league. Though Eibner isn't a switch-hitter, Trundy said he saw him put on a jaw-dropping batting-practice show from the left side of the plate one afternoon.
Eibner runs well enough and has more than enough arm strength to play right field, though he saw more time at first base for Wareham. Some scouts think he has a brighter future on the mound, where he has a 92-94 mph fastball and shows some aptitude for a slider/cutter. He's still raw in all phases of the game and still seeks consistency in making contact, commanding the strike zone and executing his secondary pitches.
"He's one of the best specimens in the league as far as athletic ability," Wareham manager Cooper Farris said. "He has all five tools they're looking for. It's just a matter of when it's going to snap and all come together."
12. Zach Cone, of, Cotuit (So., Georgia)
Three of the most toolsy if unrefined Cape prospects were Georgia teammates: Cone, fellow Kettleer Justin Grimm and Falmouth righthander Cecil Tanner. Though he's a righthanded hitter, Cone is similar to 2008 Cotuit outfielder Brett Jackson, whom the Cubs drafted 31st overall in June.
The 6-foot-2, 204-pound Cone can't match Eibner's pitching prowess, but he has similar power potential and arm strength to go with superior speed and the ability to play all three outfield positions. He'll have to learn to be more patient at the plate (42 strikeouts, five walks) and more aggressive on the bases (10 steals in just 12 tries).
"He was the top position player in the league for me," the NL scouting director said. "He's raw, but he's a quick-twitch athlete with bat speed and he hits good pitching. He improved over the summer and started to use his tools better."
13. Kyle Blair, rhp, Brewster (Jr., San Diego)
The NL scouting director said Blair had better feel for his breaking ball than any pitcher on the Cape. Thanks to his slider, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder was as unhittable as anyone in the league. He had the lowest opponent batting average (.171), reached double digits in strikeouts in three straight starts and finished second to Sale with 51 strikeouts in 44 innings.
Blair falls in love with his slider too much at times, costing him command on his fastball, which is why he led the Cape with 30 walks. His heater sits at 89-91 mph and features nice run, and his changeup has its moments.
14. Leon Landry, of, Harwich (Jr., Louisiana State)
As if Louisiana State's College World Series championship wasn't enough proof, the fact that Landry lost his starting job as a sophomore this spring was another testament to the Tigers' talent, although his struggles against lefthanded pitching also factored heavily. After arriving in early July, the 6-foot, 200-pounder showed four solid or better tools—his arm is his lone weakness—and finished the summer on a 19-for-35 tear. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, the lefty hitter would have finished second in batting (.364) and fifth in slugging (.465).
"He's a stud," Schiffner said. "He was the best hitter in the league in the last two weeks. You couldn't get him out."
15. Austin Wates, of, Yarmouth-Dennis (Jr., Virginia Tech)
Wates played all but one game on the outfield corners for Yarmouth-Dennis, but he has the tools to play center. One of the faster players in the league, he consistently barrels balls from the right side with a line-drive stroke. Six-foot-1 and 186 pounds, he needs to hone his defensive instincts and has some untapped power.
"He's athletic with speed and a loose swing," the AL scouting director said. "He's a live-bodied kid who can fly."
16. Rob Rasmussen, lhp, Orleans (Jr., UCLA)
If Rasmussen were bigger than 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds—and even his listed size may be generous—he'd be a lock first-round pick for 2010. And he still could go that high because he's a lefthander with a low-90s fastball, one of the best curveballs on the Cape and an effective changeup. Orleans manager Kelly Nicholson compared him to J.P. Howell, albeit with more velocity.
"He's not real big but we've seen 5-foot-10 lefthanders like Scott Kazmir and Billy Wagner have success," the NL scouting director said. "He has a good arm and he doesn't wrestle to do it—he does it very easy."
17. Gary Brown, of, Orleans (Jr., Cal State Fullerton)
Brown drew mixed reviews from Cape observers. His proponents like the 6-foot-1, 185-pound righthanded hitter's plus-plus speed, ability to make contact and get on base and his range in center field. Despite fringy arm strength, he tied for the league lead with seven outfield assists.
His detractors think he can be pitched to, and they worry that he lacks power and won't be able to beat out nearly as many groundballs for hits when he faces better defenders.
"He's been a favorite of mine since he was in high school," the AL scouting director said. "He's a sub-4.0 runner who can steal bases, and he has life in his bat. It's just hard to profile him. My gut feeling is he goes out as a center fielder and becomes Chad Curtis, playing all over the outfield and at second base."
18. Justin Grimm, rhp, Cotuit (Jr., Georgia)
Grimm has all the raw ingredients to become a first-round pick next June. He has a fastball that sits at 91-94 mph, a sharp 11-to-5 curveball and an improving changeup. He has projection remaining in his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame and competes well.
Whether Grimm goes in the first round will depend on if he can harness his stuff. He usually throws strikes but doesn't locate his pitches well in the zone, so he gets hit more than he should.
19. Jackie Bradley, of, Hyannis (So., South Carolina)
Bradley batted just .183 in his first five weeks with Hyannis as pitchers pounded him inside, but he made adjustments and hit .380 with eight of his 10 extra-base hits in his final 18 games. Though he isn't big at 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds, his outstanding bat speed makes him dangerous from the left side of the plate.
"He had one of the quickest swings on the Cape," Trundy said. "His bat really accelerates through the zone."
Bradley is a potential five-tool player. He's a good athlete who could have plus speed and power as his body gets stronger, and he has solid range and a strong arm in right field.
20. B.A. Vollmuth, ss, Falmouth (So., Southern Mississippi)
After playing sparingly early in his freshman season, Vollmuth hit six homers in 12 postseason games as Southern Mississippi made an improbable run to the College World Series. He showed some of the best righthanded power in the Cape as well, and the AL scouting director said that Vollmuth's 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and style of play reminded him of Troy Tulowitzki.
Unlike Tulowitzki, Vollmuth won't stay at shortstop in pro ball. He made 13 errors in 27 games there for Falmouth and will outgrow the position. He still needs to smooth out rough edges in all facets of his game, but he has the bat and the arm strength to move to third base.
21. Mickey Wiswall, 1b, Yarmouth-Dennis (Jr., Boston College)
The Claffey Award winner as the league's outstanding prospect from New England, Wiswall ranked second in RBIs (30), third in total bases (13) and fifth in slugging (.447). The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder is a productive lefthanded hitter, though he'll have to control the strike zone better (37 strikeouts, seven walks). He's reasonably athletic for a first baseman (he played third for BC this spring), runs well for his size and plays solid defense.
22. Logan Verrett, rhp, Chatham (So., Baylor)
One league observer gave Verrett a chance to become the next version of Aaron Crow, who has been drafted in the first round twice since ranking No. 1 on our 2007 Cape Top 30 list. An athletic 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, Verrett has a quick arm that generates a 90-92 mph fastball, quality slider and effective changeup. The youngest pitcher on this list, he has good mound presence but can get too fine with his pitches at times.
23. Cameron Rupp, c, Cotuit (Jr., Texas)
Though catching was down in the league this summer, Cotuit had three interesting backstops in Rupp, Cody Stanley (UNC Wilmington) and Zach Maggard (Florida Southern). Rupp had the best bat of the trio, with huge righthanded power, the ability to hit for average and patience.
Rupp has plus raw arm strength, but there are a lot of questions about his ability to remain behind the plate. His arm plays down because of a long release and problematic footwork, and there are questions as to how well his 6-foot-2, 235-pound frame will hold up.
"The lack of athleticism is a problem with him," the AL scouting director said. "He has big-time power and he's a strong kid, but you look at him at times and he looks like he's 35 years old already."
24. Hunter Morris, 1b, Falmouth (Jr., Auburn)
The best lefthanded power prospect on the Cape, Morris finished second in the league with eight homers. Big (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) and strong, he can destroy pitches on the inner half of the plate.
Morris' approach leaves something to be desired, however, because he tries to pull everything and employs a huge uppercut in his swing. He's a decent athlete for his size and a good defender at first base.
25. Jarrett Parker, of, Brewster (Jr., Virginia)
Parker was the best hitter on Virginia's College World Series club, but he looked worn out in Omaha and even moreso after he joined Brewster. While he flashed his speed and power and drew a healthy amount of walks, his lefty swing often looked long and slow. He batted just .188 and finished the summer in a 5-for-35 slide.
Parker needs to add strength to his lean 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame. He has good range and enough arm for center field.
26. Chad Bell, lhp, Cotuit (SIGNED: Rangers)
A 14th-round pick out of Walters State (Tenn.) CC, Bell made himself some money with his Cape performance. He threw a no-hitter against Chatham on July 12, limited opponents to a .173 average and commanded multiple pitches as well as anyone in the league. The Rangers signed him at the deadline for $450,000.
Bell relied on his curveball too much at Walters State but used his fastball more with Cotuit, boosting its velocity from 86-88 mph to 89-91. He also had one of the best changeups on the Cape, and his curve is a solid pitch.
27. George Springer, of, Wareham (So., Connecticut)
Ryan LaMarre (Michigan) entered the summer as Wareham's most highly touted outfielder, but Springer outperformed him. A 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthanded hitter, Springer has one of the best power-speed combinations in the league. A prototypical right fielder, he'll be more potent at the plate once he squares balls up more consistently and refines his two-strike approach.
28. Daniel Tillman, rhp, Cotuit (Jr., Florida Southern)
Tillman didn't allow a run in 18 regular season and playoff appearances, posting a 33-7 K-BB ratio in 24 innings. He commands his 91-94 mph fastball, getting hitters to chase it up in the zone, and backs it up with a tight 78-82 mph slider.
At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Tillman is built along the lines of 2008 Kettleers closer Drew Storen, who went 10th overall to the Nationals in the 2009 draft. Roberts said the resemblance goes beyond their builds.
"Daniel Tillman will close in the big leagues," Roberts said. "He has the same closer makeup as Drew Storen. He doesn't throw quite as hard as Drew did this spring, but he misses more bats."
29. Nick Tepesch, rhp, Falmouth (Jr., Missouri)
If Tepesch puts everything together, he could make the 2010 draft the third in a row with a Missouri Tigers/Falmouth Commodores pitcher in the first round, following Aaron Crow and Kyle Gibson. He hasn't had nearly as much success as those two, but he may have turned a corner when he made a mechanical adjustment and started breaking his hands more in the center of his body at midsummer.
Tepesch has a classic pitcher's build at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, and when he's on he can reach the mid-90s with his fastball and gets out with his curveball and changeup. He still has to prove he can consistently get ahead in counts and work on the corners.
30. Dallas Gallant, rhp, Hyannis (Jr., Sam Houston State)
Gallant has had mixed success as a starter at Sam Houston State, but he looked right at home in the bullpen for Hyannis. He worked primarily with two pitches, a low-90s fastball and a low-80s slider, and he could throw harder as he fills out his 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame. He does throw across his body, giving his pitches life but also hampering his control.