Cape Cod League Top 30 Prospects
Ranaudo, Springer stand out this summer
CHICAGO—The best opportunity to watch the top Cape Cod League prospects in action came not during the July 28 all-star game at Fenway Park, but rather a month earlier when the Brewster Whitecaps visited the Wareham Gatemen.
Brewster's Anthony Ranaudo and Wareham's Matt Barnes, the two best pitchers on the Cape, squared off on June 26. Barnes reached the mid-90s while striking out 14 over seven innings, but took the loss because he gave up a run in the fourth. Mixing a plus fastball and curveball, Ranaudo allowed just one hit in 6 2/3 scoreless innings in what became a 5-3 Whitecaps win.
Ranaudo struck out Wareham's George Springer, the league's top athlete and position prospect, three times in three at-bats. The lone hit Ranaudo surrendered was a fourth-inning double to Alex Dickerson, who batted .500/.553/.706 in nine games and fell six plate appearances shy of qualifying for this list.
All four players left the Cape before the all-star game, Ranaudo after he had successfully boosted his stock on the heels of a disappointing spring and the others to join Team USA. League managers and pro scouts alike felt that the Cape didn't have its usual high caliber of starting pitching, as many of the top arms went to Team USA (Gerrit Cole, Sonny Gray) or took the summer off (Matt Purke, Taylor Jungmann).
1. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Brewster (SIGNED: Red Sox).
Ranaudo entered the year as the top pitching prospect for the 2010 draft. Then he came down with a stress reaction in his elbow after his first start, missed a month and struggled with his command and mechanics when he returned. He went 5-3, 7.32 for Louisiana State and slipped to the 39th overall pick.
Ranaudo joined Brewster in hopes of getting back on track and did exactly that, allowing no earned runs in 30 innings over five starts. The 6-foot-7, 230-pounder operated at 92-94 mph with his fastball and worked down in the zone with his heater and curveball, a plus pitch at times. He signed with the Red Sox for $2.55 million at the signing deadline.
"In his last start, he was easily the best pitcher I saw on the Cape," an American League scouting director said. "He was up to 95, sitting at 94-95 in the sixth inning, and he stayed on top of his curveball. It was as good as he's ever been."
2. George Springer, of, Wareham (Jr., Connecticut)
Harwich outfielder Brian Goodwin was the only player who could challenge Springer for having the best tools in the league. Springer, No. 27 on this list a year ago, is a year more experienced and has more polish.
Six-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Springer generates explosive bat speed with his ultra-quick hands and wrists. His speed and arm are easy plus tools, and he's a fine defender in center field. He'll need to make some adjustments in pro ball, because his swing gets long and he often gets caught out in front on offspeed pitches, but his upside is undeniable.
"He was the most live, athletic player I saw on the Cape," a National League scouting director said. "There's too much swing and miss to him, and sometimes his swing gets big, but he has life in his bat, has power, he can throw, he can run and he has a chance to stay in center field."
3. Matt Barnes, rhp, Wareham (Jr., Connecticut).
Barnes showed arm strength but not much else in his first Cape stint last year. The 6-foot-4, 203-pounder was a more complete package in his encore, with more velocity on his fastball and a more reliable curveball and changeup. His secondary pitches, command and mechanics all need more work, but his performance with Wareham and Team USA put him in the mix to be an early first-round pick in 2011.
"He was 90-92 as a freshman here, but he was inconsistent," Wareham manager Cooper Farris said. "This summer, he was 94-95 every fastball, and it was real easy. He's dominant when his curveball and changeup are on."
4. Jed Bradley, lhp, Wareham (Jr., Georgia Tech).
Bradley tied for the league strikeout lead (44 in 44 innings) despite not pitching in the final two weeks and going home after the all-star game. The 6-foot-3, 203-pounder stood out as the best lefthander on the Cape, commanding three pitches with ease. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and peaks at 95, and he backs it up with a hard-80s slider and an effective changeup.
"He threw three pitches for strikes and I thought he was the most advanced pitcher there," the AL scouting director said. "He has the type of body you want to buy into as a pitcher."
5. Andrew Susac, c, Falmouth (So., Oregon State).
Susac hit just .260 with two homers for Oregon State as a part-time regular in the spring, but he answered any questions about his bat by leading the Cape League with a .500 slugging percentage. Six-foot-1 and 200 pounds, he has good bat speed and big raw power.
A draft-eligible sophomore in 2011, Susac has the tools to stand out behind the plate but must work harder on his defense. He has a strong arm but throws from his knees too often. He struggles to receive good velocity at times, and sometimes seems to lose concentration.
"If he's not a catcher at the major league level, I don't know who is," Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy said. "The kid does too many things well. Physically, he has every attribute a kid needs to make it to the big leagues."
6. Brian Goodwin, of, Harwich (So., North Carolina).
The highest-ranked player on this list who's not eligible for the 2011 draft, Goodwin has all the tools to be one of the top picks in 2012. His raw power and speed are plus-plus tools, and he could stick in center field if he improves with experience. Though the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder still has more work to do, he has made significant progress in his first year out of high school, particularly with his strength and swing.
"He had some of the best tools in the league," Harwich manager Steve Englert said. "He's just very raw right now. Once he matures and learns the game, he's got a chance to be pretty good. The ball explodes off his bat when he barrels it."
7. Deven Marrero, ss, Cotuit (So., Arizona State)
Marrero would be the top shortstop prospect in the 2011 draft, but he won't be eligible until 2012. He's a quality defender with a strong arm, soft hands and solid range, though he can get too cute on occasion. He has quick hands that give him surprising power for a 6-foot-1, 172-pounder, and he has average speed.
"He was definitely the best shortstop in the league," a second NL scouting director said. "He's a good player, though he has too much style at times. He hit well for me and he can dial it up against good velocity. I saw him hit a long home run, which surprised me. He has fringe speed but great instincts, so it plays better than the stopwatch."
8. Austin Wood, rhp, Cotuit (Jr., Southern California).
Marrero and Wood teamed to help Cotuit win its first Cape championship since 1999. Wood pitched his way out of the rotation at St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC in the spring, but was dominant for the Kettleers. He led the league in opponent batting average (.144) and ranked second in ERA (0.74).
Wood has the size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and arm strength (a mid-90s fastball that reached 99 mph during the playoffs) scouts covet, and he made progress with his changeup. He's not a finished project, however, as his heater can get straight and he doesn't have great feel for his slurvy slider. The Rays drafted him in the fourth round in June but declined to give him sandwich-round money, so he opted to transfer to Southern California.
"He's the best pitching prospect in the league," Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said. "He sat at 95-96 every game out and looked like a young Josh Beckett. After he goes to Southern California, he could be one of the first five or 10 picks in next year's draft."
9. Jason Coats, of, Bourne (Jr., Texas Christian)
Coats may have raised his profile more than anyone in the league. After setting a Texas Christian record with 99 hits and helping the Horned Frogs reach the College World Series for the first time, he was one of the best all-around hitters on the Cape.
Six-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Coats has a sound approach and swing, allowing him to make consistent quality contact, and he made good adjustments against breaking pitches. His best power currently goes to the opposite field, and he'll have more once he learns to turn on pitches. A good athlete with average speed and arm strength, he profiles as a corner outfielder.
10. Lex Rutledge, lhp, Harwich (So., Samford)
Dominant as a freshman closer at Samford, Rutledge was just as overpowering as a starter for Harwich. He made four appearances for the Mariners before leaving for the Team USA trials, then opted not to return to the Cape after failing to make the cut.
Though he's not big at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Rutledge has a quick arm and as much stuff as any Cape lefthander. His 90-94 mph fastball and hard slider are at least the equal of Bradley's, though Bradley commands his pitches better. Rutledge goes after hitters but doesn't always locate his pitches where he wants.
11. Anthony Meo, rhp, Bourne (Jr., Coastal Carolina)
"Meo has as good an arm as anyone in the league," Bourne manager Harvey Shapiro said, and scouts agreed. Meo sits in the mid-90s and touches 97 mph with his fastball, and he pushes his slider into the upper 80s at times. He would rank higher on this list if his arm action and delivery weren't concerns, and if he didn't lack fastball life and overall command.
12. John Ruettiger, of, Hyannis (Jr., Arizona State)
The nephew of famed Notre Dame football walk-on Dan "Rudy" Ruettiger, John possesses his uncle's grit but has too many tools to be pigeonholed as just a scrapper. The league's batting champion at .369, Ruettiger has a line-drive swing, solid-average speed and good instincts on the bases and in the outfield. He split time in center field for Hyannis with Georgia State's Mark Micowski, and Ruettiger profiles best there because he only has gap power.
13. Kolten Wong, 2b, Orleans (Jr., Hawaii)
After hitting .215 with Team USA in 2009, Wong batted .341 and took home Cape MVP honors this summer. Though the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder isn't overly toolsy, he has a quality bat with some pop, and he gets the job done as a runner and defender. Roberts said at the same stage of their careers, Wong is a more advanced hitter, defender and basestealer than his son Brian, a two-time all-star with the Orioles.
"Baseball player-wise, he might have been the best guy in the league," the second NL scouting director said. "He plays the game very well."
14. Marcus Stroman, rhp, Orleans (So., Duke)
Though he's just 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Stroman has a big-time arm and drew repeated comparisons to Tom Gordon. With little effort, Stroman repeatedly delivers 93-96 mph fastballs and a low-80s curveball that was the sharpest on the Cape. He didn't allow a run in 25 innings, giving up just 10 hits and three walks while striking out 32.
"I'm not big on small pitchers but the guy has electric stuff," the first NL scouting director said. "He's got power to his breaking ball and a quick arm. I've heard the Gordon comparisons, and he's a little taller and stronger than Flash."
15. Zach Wilson, of/3b, Wareham (Jr., Arizona State)
Wilson earned Western Division all-star game MVP honors after doubling off the Green Monster, and he had one of the most respected bats in the league. With a patient approach and a sound swing, he consistently makes hard contact to all fields. Mostly a DH at Arizona State, he's a fringy athlete who looked rough at third base and decent in left field for the Gatemen.
16. Jason Esposito, 3b, Orleans (Jr., Vanderbilt)
Esposito turned down $1.4 million from the Royals out of high school and projects as a first-round pick next June. But he wasn't at his best on the Cape, batting just .246/.300/.292 before having more success as an injury replacement for Anthony Rendon on Team USA. He has solid tools across the board, but Cape observers were divided on how much success he'll have hitting for average and power with wood bats.
"I love his batting practice," the AL scouting director said. "He had one of the best swings on the Cape, but it didn't translate in games. It's a simple, loose swing with bat speed, so he should hit."
17. Tony Zych, rhp, Bourne (Jr., Louisville)
Zych led the league with 12 saves and won Cape awards for best reliever and top prospect. Scouts voted him the latter honor after he stood out more than anyone at the all-star game, where his fastball sat at 97 mph. His arm action isn't pretty, though it adds funk to his delivery and doesn't prevent him from throwing strikes. His slider is a solid second pitch.
"He can pitch in the big leagues tomorrow," Chatham manager John Schiffner said. "He's got no fear versus wood bats. In the all-star game, he threw nine pitches, and every one was 97."
18. Levi Michael, if, Harwich (Jr., North Carolina)
Michael played all over the infield for Harwich, and while he has a chance to be a shortstop, most observers thought his range would fit best at second base. A switch-hitter, he has a disciplined approach and short stroke from both sides of the plate but more power righthanded. He's quick out of the box but not as fast on the bases.
19. Logan Verrett, rhp, Chatham (Jr., Baylor)
Verrett got hit harder than any pitcher in the all-star game, surrendering three runs in one inning, but that was an aberration. For the second straight summer—he ranked No. 22 on this list in 2009—he showed a 90-93 mph fastball with good tail and sink, a slider with tilt and a changeup with fade. He throws all three pitches for strikes, and Schiffner called him a righthanded version of former Chatham star David Huff.
20. Andrew Gagnon, rhp, Brewster (Jr., Long Beach State)
Gagnon won just eight games in his first two seasons at Long Beach State before topping the Cape with five victories. He had one of the more well-rounded repertoires in the league, pitching down in the strike zone with a lively 90-93 mph fastball, a promising if not fully consistent slider and an useful changeup.
"So many guys have big arms up there and just fire away," the first NL scouting director said. "This guy can really pitch."
21. Brady Rodgers, rhp, Cotuit (So., Arizona State)
Roberts said Rodgers reminded him of another Cotuit/Arizona State pitcher, Cardinals 2010 sandwich pick Seth Blair, but was more advanced as a first-year pitcher. Rodgers topped the Cape with a 38-5 K-BB ratio in 31 innings and allowed just one run in two playoff starts covering eight innings. He throws a 90-92 mph fastball to both sides of the plate, and his curveball and changeup are both solid pitches.
22. Ryan Carpenter, lhp, Orleans (Jr., Gonzaga)
Carpenter has a 10-8, 5.46 record in two seasons at Gonzaga but has thrived against wood bats, leading the Alaska League in strikeouts in 2009 and falling five whiffs short of repeating the feat on the Cape. He's a 6-foot-5, 225-pounder who runs his fastball up to 92 mph with minimal effort. His changeup grades better than his curveball at this point, and he throws strikes.
23. Jack Armstrong, rhp, Wareham (Jr., Vanderbilt)
Armstrong ranked sixth on this list in 2009, when he threw with a lot less effort and more velocity. His fastball was down a couple of ticks to 91-93 mph this summer, though scouts still love his size (6-foot-7, 230 pounds) and arm strength. His changeup and control have gotten more consistent, but he still lacks a trustworthy breaking ball.
24. Joe Panik, ss, Yarmouth-Dennis (Jr., St. John's)
Panik was the best prospect on what many considered the league's best team, as the Red Sox went 27-17 in the regular season and advanced to the playoff finals. He consistently barrels balls with an easy lefthanded swing, and he has good control of the strike zone, some gap power and slightly above-average speed. He also has a strong arm and good feet at shortstop, and he won the Cape's sportsmanship award.
25. Aaron Westlake, 1b, Chatham (Jr., Vanderbilt)
Chatham had the two best first-base prospects on the Cape, and Westlake is a better hitter than Ricky Oropesa and also possesses good lefthanded power in his 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame. He had one of the best swings in the league and is a decent defender at first base who may be able to play left field. The Blue Jays took him in the 22nd round in June as a draft-eligible sophomore, but failed to sign him despite his strong summer.
26. R.J. Alvarez, rhp, Bourne (So., Florida Atlantic)
Alvarez was just as lethal as Zych, giving Bourne the best bullpen combination in the league. Alvarez has a lot of effort in his delivery and throws across his body, but the result is a 90-94 mph fastball with a lot of armside run. Hitters struggle to pick up his pitches, which also include a hard slurve and an effective changeup.
27. Ricky Oropesa, 1b/3b, Chatham (Jr., Southern California)
A classic feast-or-famine hitter, Oropesa tied for the Cape lead in homers (seven) and topped everyone in strikeouts (52). His strength and bat speed allow him to launch balls out of any part of any ballpark, but he also has a lot of holes in his swing and doesn't recognize offspeed pitches. He has the hands and arm to play third base, but he needs more quickness to stick at the hot corner.
28. Grayson Garvin, lhp, Bourne (Jr., Vanderbilt)
Garvin was named Cape pitcher of the year after tying Gagnon for the lead in wins (five) and edging Wood for the ERA title (0.74). His stuff isn't as impressive as his performance, but he's a lefty who uses his 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame to pitch at a steep downward angle. He does a good job of locating his 87-90 mph fastball and slurvy breaking ball, though he may need to switch to a cutter against better hitters.
29. Kevin Medrano, 2b, Falmouth (Jr., Missouri State)
A natural hitter who barrels balls with ease, Medrano batted .321 on the Cape after hitting .410 as a sophomore at Missouri State. He has plus speed, though scouts wonder if the 6-foot-1, 160-pounder ever will develop much power. He moves well in the field, though his arm limits him to second base.
30. Andy Burns, 3b, Brewster (Jr., Arizona)
Burns had one of the Cape's best tools packages, which explains why scouts remain intrigued by him despite a disappointing .211/.306/.283 line. He'll need to cut down on his strikeouts, but he has some power potential. His slightly above-average speed and good instincts helped him lead the league in steals (25 in 29 tries), and he has the arm and range to play a fine third base.
Burns transferred from Kentucky to Arizona, and NCAA rules would force him to sit out a season. Several scouts questioned the wisdom of not playing in a year he's eligible for the draft.