The Cape Cod League remains the premier college summer circuit, but this year it wasn't the pitcher's haven to which players and scouts have grown accustomed.
With the league using Diamond balls with harder cores than in the past—Bourne manager Harvey Shapiro called them "baseballs on steroids"—offensive numbers exploded. Teams averaged 5.11 runs per game, up from 3.87 in 2011, and combined for 384 home runs after hitting 159 a year ago. Harwich set a league record with 64 homers, while Wareham outfielder Tyler Horan (Virginia Tech) tied the wood-bat mark with 16 long balls.
Even with balls flying out of parks and an overall lackluster crop of arms, one pitcher easily stood out. Hyannis lefthander Sean Manaea emerged as a candidate to go at the top of the 2013 draft, winning the Cape's top prospect award from scouts and earning the same honor from Baseball America.
1. Sean Manaea, lhp, Hyannis (Jr., Indiana State)
The Cape pitcher of the year, Manaea led the league in innings (52), strikeouts (85) and opponent average (.119) while ranking second in ERA (1.22).
"I saw maybe four balls squared up all year off him," Hyannis manager Chad Gassman said. "It was almost like he put it on autopilot and said, 'I'll see you in the eighth inning.' "
Manaea's fastball velocity continues to rise, and he worked at 94-96 mph most of the summer and hit 98 in a relief appearance. He has late life on his fastball that makes it explode on hitters and elicit swings and misses. There's still room for more projection in his 6-foot-5, 215-pound frame.
He throws from a lower three-quarters arm slot, so he's not always consistent with his secondary pitches, but both have the potential to be plus offerings. He tightened his slider and gained more faith in his changeup, which he throws with a splitter grip that gives it tough downward movement. His delivery adds deception without detracting from his ability to fill the strike zone.
2. Colin Moran, 3b, Bourne (Jr., North Carolina)
The nephew of former No. 1 overall pick B.J. Surhoff, Moran will challenge for the same lofty draft position in 2013. He added to his reputation as the best pure hitter in college baseball by topping the league with 42 RBIs after ranking No. 7 on this list a year ago.
The 6-foot-3, 209-pounder has a smooth line-drive swing from the left side of the plate and currently focuses on hitting line drives up the middle rather than worrying about power, which should come down the road. He has the bat speed and strength for at least average pop, if not more. He's not a quick-twitch athlete but should be able to stay at third base, where he shows a solid arm and has improved his footwork.
"He's a very solid hitter who makes good adjustments," Wareham manager Cooper Farris said. "He's always on an even keel, never too high or too low. He just has good at-bats every time."
3. Phil Ervin, of, Harwich (Jr., Samford)
Ervin was the league's hottest hitter in June, homering eight times in 14 games. He tailed off afterward, in part because he bruised his left hand after getting hit by a pitch, but still won the league MVP award and was the only Cape player to reach double figures in homers (11) and steals (10).
Ervin isn't especially big at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, but he drives the ball with a quick, efficient righthanded stroke. He's a plus runner who takes good routes in center field, and he showed off a 90-92 mph fastball in a three-inning stint on the mound. Two Cape observers called him a better version of former Falmouth outfielder Barrett Barnes, a Pirates supplemental first-round pick in June.
"I'm not sure he has the power he showed on the Cape, but I'd bet on him over (Austin) Wilson and (Aaron) Judge because he's more consistent," an American League scouting director said. "He's a very good hitter with a very good swing and he lets the ball travel really deep. He played well in center field too."
4. Austin Wilson, of, Harwich (Jr., Stanford)
No position player on the Cape could match the ceiling of Wilson, who also was one of the league's most improved players from a year ago. After hitting .204/272/.301 and ranking 25th on this list in 2011, he batted .312/.436/.623 before departing in mid-July with a strained oblique.
"His tools were as good as anyone's up there," a National League scouting director said. "He had a lot of strikeouts, but he can run and throw and he has a lot of power."
An athletic 6-foot-5, 245-pounder, Wilson is loaded with bat speed and huge raw righthanded power but still has to show he can make consistent contact after fanning 33 times in 77 at-bats. Though he didn't chase as many pitches this summer, he must improve his selectivity and pitch recognition and prove he can catch up to good fastballs. A solid runner who played center field for Harwich, he profiles as a right fielder with a cannon arm.
5. Kevin Ziomek, lhp, Cotuit (Jr., Vanderbilt)
Ziomek lacked consistency with his stuff and his command last spring but made strides with both with Cotuit. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder gave up just five runs and six walks in five starts, showing the makings of three potential above-average pitches before departing a month early. He went 3-0, 1.27 in five starts spanning 28 innings.
"Manaea and Ziomek were the best pro prospects on the mound, without a doubt," Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said. "He showed an average-to-plus fastball, breaking ball and changeup in his last three starts before he went home. He had such a good changeup that his 91-93 mph fastball exploded on hitters, and his breaking ball froze guys."
6. Aaron Judge, of, Brewster (Jr., Fresno State)
Judge is a powerful 6-foot-7, 250-pounder, prompting two Cape observers to compare him to NBA star Blake Griffin. He's capable of displaying massive righthanded pop, such as when he homered twice in one game against Stanford first-rounder Mark Appel in March and won the TD Ameritrade college home run derby in July.
However, Judge hit just two homers in his other 57 games for Fresno State last spring. He did hit five homers this summer while batting .270 for the Whitecaps. The top prospect in the Alaska League in 2011 despite not hitting a home run, he's still raw at the plate, struggles to get to quality inside pitches and is almost patient to a fault, waiting for a perfect pitch to crush. A center fielder for Brewster, he fits best in right field with his solid speed and arm strength.
"He's similar (physically) to Giancarlo Stanton," the NL scouting director said. "Big, tall, long limbs, long arms, big power. How much contact he'll make and how much power he'll get to is the question."
7. Jeff Hoffman, rhp, Hyannis (So., East Carolina)
Undrafted out of an upstate New York high school in 2012, Hoffman wowed scouts by hitting 95 mph at the Cape all-star game and rocketed up draft boards for 2014. With his 6-foot-4, 182-pound frame and clean arm action, he's extremely projectable and already works at 91-93 mph with his fastball. He also has a big breaking 11-to-5 curveball and flashes a changeup with some fade.
"He's young, he's loose, he can spin the ball and he has velocity," the NL scouting director said. "All the pieces are there. He has one of the better upsides in the league."
8. Colby Suggs, rhp, Wareham (Jr., Arkansas)
Suggs stood out the most among the Cape's bullpen arms, posting a 1.37 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 20 innings. He also contributed two wins and two saves in the playoffs as Wareham won the championship. Solidly built at 6 feet and 225 pounds, he throws a heavy 93-95 mph fastball that touches 97 and backs it up with a hard slurve that gets some swings and misses. His delivery doesn't feature much effort, though he can improve the consistency of his breaking ball and control.
"He's big and solid, so powerful," Farris said. "His legs are so strong, he might have a chance to start too."
Another member of Harwich's Murderer's Row, Jones won the league's home run derby after replacing Wilson. He's a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder with big-time bat speed from the right side of the plate, and he also has plus speed, solid arm strength and the ability to play center field or second base. An outstanding athlete, he's also an enigma because he has an all-or-nothing approach that detracts from his plus raw power and his ability to make contact. His 55 strikeouts in 139 at-bats ranked second in the league.
"I don't know if he'll figure it out but if he does, he'll be pretty good," the AL scouting director said. "He has tools and he's so athletic. He just puts too much pressure on himself."
After turning down $2 million as a seventh-round pick of the Padres in 2010, Vanegas has yet to bust out in two years with Stanford and Yarmouth-Dennis. He gets hit more than he should—Cape Leaguers batted .319 against him—because his control and command haven't caught up to his pure stuff. But his upside remains undeniable, as he operated at 93-95 mph with his fastball and turned his slider into a more effective 83-85 mph cutter before leaving with a tweaked back.
"He's Brandon Morrow with more polish at this level," said Yarmouth-Dennis manager Scott Pickler, who had Morrow for two summers. "He's up to 97 and he started throwing a good cutter up here. His body and work ethic were so much better this year."
11. Tom Windle, lhp, Brewster (Jr., Minnesota)
Shoulder tendinitis limited Windle last spring, but he was fully healthy and looked like a potential first-round pick on the Cape. The 6-foot-4, 202-pounder went 3-2, 2.35 with 47 strikeouts and just seven walks in 38 innings. He throws an 88-94 mph fastball on a steep downward plane and flashes a plus slider and promising changeup. Some scouts worry about recoil in his delivery, but his frame, control and command all lend themselves to Windle being an asset in a rotation.
12. Dan Slania, rhp, Cotuit (Jr., Notre Dame)
The league's relief pitcher of the year, Slania led the Cape with 10 saves while posting a 39-4 K-BB ratio in 30 innings. He doesn't have the cleanest body (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) or delivery, but he overmatches hitters with a low-90s fastball that tops out at 97 mph and draws comparisons to Jonathan Broxton. Slania also throws a short slider in the low 80s and mixes in an occasional changeup.
13. Chad Pinder, 3b, Chatham (Jr., Virginia Tech)
"He's the closest thing I've seen to Evan Longoria since Evan Longoria," said Chatham's John Schiffner, who managed Longoria in 2005. While that statement contained at least a grain of hyperbole, Pinder was the most athletic member of the league's deep crop of quality third-base prospects.
Six-foot-2 and 192 pounds, Pinder hit .278/.345/.532 with four homers in just 79 at-bats. He has a sound righthanded swing and drives the ball well to the opposite field, showing the potential for average power. A solid runner, he moves well at third base and has soft hands and a strong arm. He played the first half of the season with a sports hernia before leaving to have surgery.
14. Eric Jagielo, 3b, Harwich (Jr., Notre Dame)
Harwich broke the Cape record with 64 homers, and while teammates Ervin, Wilson and Jones rank ahead of him on this list, scouts believe Jagielo is the best long-term power threat on the club. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound lefthanded hitter finished second in the league with 13 homers, though he got overanxious toward the end of the summer when teams started pitching around him. He has the arm strength for third base but will have to improve his agility and consistency.
"The ball explodes off his bat," Harwich manager Steve Englert said. "He has power to all fields. He has the best potential for consistent power on our team."
Robbins was the best of the Cape's position players who had just completed their first year of college. The 6-foot-2, 196-pounder is a prototypical right fielder with a pretty lefthanded swing to go with power potential and arm strength. His speed and defense are fringy but don't detract from his profile.
"I really like him," the NL scouting director said. "He's a natural hitter who understands how to hit. He hits lefthanders and righthanders, and he's going to have at least solid-average power."
16. Trey Masek, rhp, Falmouth (Jr., Texas Tech)
Masek had the best arm among the 2013 draft-eligible righthanded starters on the Cape, working at 92-93 mph and peaking at 95 mph with his fastball. He'll also display a sharp curveball at times, and he has a short cutter/slider and a changeup as well. He throws strikes but has some stiffness to his delivery that costs him command, and his 6-foot, 185-pound frame doesn't give him great plane or angle on his pitches.
17. Mike Mayers, rhp, Bourne (Jr., Mississippi)
Mayers came to the Cape after a full spring in Ole Miss' rotation, when he logged 92 innings. He posted a 42-7 K-BB ratio in 28 innings, pitching on a once-a-week schedule before wearing down and heading home early.
He has a more athletic and projectable body (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and a better delivery than Masek, and Mayers' stuff lags only slightly behind. He features a 90-93 mph fastball and an average curveball and changeup.
18. Michael O'Neill, of, Falmouth (Jr., Michigan)
While Cotuit's Patrick Biondi won the Cape's batting title at .388, O'Neill is the Michigan outfielder who profiles best as a big league regular. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder posted the fastest 60-yard time (6.36 seconds) at the league's Fenway Park workout, has a quick righthanded bat with some pop and may be able to play center field despite deferring to Biondi with the Wolverines. O'Neill can be too hard on himself—like his uncle Paul, a five-time all-star with the Reds and Yankees—and needs a more consistent approach at the plate.
"There's a lot to like," Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy said. "He just tries to do too much at times and needs to mature. But the tools are great. He hit a home run against Wareham, a line drive to left field that got out quick. It looks like a 2-iron when he squares it up. He can really put a charge into it."
Next to Manaea, Blair was the Cape's most dominant starter, leading the league in ERA (1.17) and winning both of his playoff starts. Though he's 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, he's more about finesse than power. He has fine command of all three of his pitches: an 89-92 mph sinker, a solid changeup and a fringy curveball.
20. Michael Wagner, rhp, Chatham (Jr., San Diego)
After he finished second in NCAA Division I with 19 saves last spring, Wagner started for San Diego in regional play and will move to the Toreros rotation in 2013. He looked good prepping for that role with Chatham, showing an 88-92 mph fastball that hit 94 along with a slider that has some bite and the makings of an effective changeup. His 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame and delivery are conducive to starting, though his arm slot can get low, which affects his slider.
21. Alex Blandino, ss, Yarmouth-Dennis (So., Stanford)
Blandino was the best of a lean crop of Cape middle-infield prospects, showing a solid righthanded bat and arm strength to go with some gap power and decent speed. However, scouts don't think the 6-foot, 190-pounder has the quickness for shortstop and envision him as an offensive second baseman. He didn't play at shortstop as a Stanford freshman and moved to third base when Cardinal teammate Danny Diekroeger arrived in Yarmouth-Dennis.
22. Corey Littrell, lhp, Harwich (Jr., Kentucky)
Littrell's 45-11 K-BB ratio in 32 innings provided a better indication of his upside than his 5.06 ERA. He's an athletic 6-foot-3, 195-pounder who commands his 88-93 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and flashes a plus slider. He also throws a curveball for strikes and blends in a changeup, with the only knock against him a little wrist wrap in the back of his delivery.
23. Matt Boyd, lhp, Orleans (Sr., Oregon State)
A 13th-round pick in June, Boyd turned down the Reds and boosted his stock at Orleans. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder hit 96 mph as a reliever and operated at 89-92 as a starter. Almost exclusively a reliever at Oregon State, he showed the ability to throw four pitches for strikes (fastball, slider, curveball, changeup) and mix them effectively as a starter.
"He's really changed himself," an NL crosschecker said. "Last year on Team USA, he looked like a lefty specialist. Now he looks like a lefty starter."
24. Conrad Gregor, 1b, Orleans (Jr., Vanderbilt)
Scouts liked Gregor's lefthanded bat and athleticism more than that of former Vanderbilt first baseman Aaron Westlake, a Tigers third-round pick in 2011. Gregor has a balanced approach and excels at working counts, leading the league with 38 walks. He has plus power in his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame, and he tapped into it more consistently on the Cape (eight homers) than he has at Vanderbilt (six in two seasons).
25. Jared King, of, Falmouth (Jr., Kansas State)
King has more athleticism than most 5-foot-11, 220-pounders. He has plus speed as well as above-average power from the left side, his stronger side as a switch-hitter. He plays full-steam ahead and showed an average arm before an elbow injury ended his Cape season in mid-July.
"I was pretty intrigued by him and his ability to impact the baseball," the AL scouting director said. "He's a switch-hitter who looks like a bull."
26. Dylan Covey, rhp, Orleans (Jr., San Diego)
A 2010 first-round pick by the Brewers, Covey hasn't shown much consistency in two years at San Diego or on the Cape. At his best, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has a 92-95 mph fastball and an above-average curveball. He might be destined for the bullpen, however, because he battles his delivery and command, and he came down with a tender arm late in the summer.
Scouts liked Brown more as a hitter when he came out of high school a year ago, but now they think his future is brighter on the mound. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder is still raw as a pitcher, but he's an athletic lefthander with two plus pitches in his 90-94 mph fastball and his low-80s slider. A draft-eligible sophomore in 2013, he also offers lefthanded power and center-field skills, but he hit .169 with 35 strikeouts in 65 at-bats for Chatham.
"I think he could really make a jump this spring if he really gets a chance to pitch," the NL crosschecker said. "I saw him up to 94. He has plus arm strength, no question, and flashes a plus slider."
With his 6-foot-8, 245-pound frame and a 91-94 mph fastball that touches 96, Buchanan can be intimidating and unhittable. He limited opponents to a .143 average and struck out 23 in 17 innings. His hard curveball, command and mechanics all need work, so he may be limited to a relief role.
29. Daniel Aldrich, of, Orleans/Cotuit (SIGNED: Yankees)
Undrafted despite being eligible as a redshirt sophomore in 2012, Aldrich matched his spring total with 11 homers on the Cape and signed as free agent with the Yankees for $150,000. His uppercut lefthanded swing and all-out approach leads to some swings and misses, especially against breaking balls, but scouts love his power, bat speed and strong wrists. They thought he was more athletic than many of the Cape's top sluggers, projecting him as a right fielder with an average arm.
"He scares the hell out of you," Shapiro said. "He swings hard at everything and he has an uppercut, but he hits. He's swing and miss, but he'll launch one too. He might be the scariest guy in the league."
30. Tyler Horan, of, Wareham (Jr., Virginia Tech)
Another undrafted sophomore-eligible, Horan had a monster summer, tying the Cape's wood-bat home run record (16) while also leading the league in slugging (.717) and OPS (1.127). The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder generates well above-average lefthanded power, though scouts are wary that he does so more with strength than bat speed and wonder how he'll handle better pitching. He moves OK in the outfield, with his arm best suited for left field.