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Cape Cod League Top 30 Prospects

By Jim Callis
August 15, 2002

CHICAGO—Freshmen rarely make a huge impact in the Cape Cod League. In most cases, they’re facing tougher competition than ever and they’re fatigued after their first college season.

Baseball America began rating the best Cape Cod League prospects in 1990, and future No. 1 overall draft picks Darin Erstad, Kris Benson and Pat Burrell weren’t able to claim the top spot after their freshman years. In 1999, Mark Teixeira became the first to do so.

Fresh off his first team Freshman All-America selection as a two-way player, UCLA first baseman Wes Whisler followed in Teixeira’s footsteps this summer. In a league that doesn’t showcase power, Whisler’s pop at the plate easily stood out. He batted .309-6-16 and led the Cape with a .512 slugging percentage. He also won the league’s official top prospect award, voted on by pro scouts.

"Whisler centers the ball well, uses the whole field and has so much power and upside," a National League crosschecker said. "He did himself a favor by performing the way he did."

It was a good summer for talent on the Cape. There wasn’t much in the way of catchers or middle infielders, but the overall crop ran deeper than usual. Here’s our Top 30, based on discussions with league managers and scouts:

Whisler
Wes Whisler
1. Wes Whisler, 1b, Yarmouth-Dennis (UCLA)
Whisler had easily the most raw power in the league, with Cotuit third baseman Lee Mitchell (Georgia) his closest rival. Most everyone loved Whisler’s lefthanded swing and the strength packed in his 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame. He doesn’t try to overpower the ball and is a decent athlete for his size. Whisler didn’t get a chance to showcase his pitching skills because he felt a twinge in his elbow the one time he took the mound.

2. Tim Stauffer, rhp, Chatham (Richmond)
After earning first-team All-America honors and carrying Richmond to a school record for victories during the spring, Stauffer led the Cape with 67 strikeouts in 63 innings. He threw three-plus pitches for strikes: a fastball that reaches 94 mph and runs down and in on righthanders, a curveball and a changeup. He relentlessly pitched inside, and the only thing scouts were skeptical about was his height (listed at 6-foot-2).

3. Matt Murton, of, Wareham (Georgia Tech)
Murton also ranked third on this list in 2001, when he won an MVP award, RBIs title and championship on the Cape. He wouldn’t have returned to the Gatemen for another championship had he not broken his right middle finger while trying out for Team USA. Showing a broad base of offensive skills, Murton hit .400 in 16 games as a Wareham DH and won the all-star game home run derby. His average arm will consign him to left field.

4. David Aardsma, rhp, Falmouth (Rice)
After a year at Penn State, Aardsma transferred to Rice and did solid bullpen work for a College World Series club. But no one was prepared for his coming-out party on the Cape, where he lived at 94-95 mph and touched 97 with his fastball. Mixing in an unhittable slider, he posted a 0.68 ERA and 45 strikeouts while permitting just 12 baserunners in 27 innings.

5. Matt Brown, rhp, Bourne (California)
Brown ranked 16th on our 2001 Top 30 as a setup man, and moved up as a starter this summer. He repeated a 90-93 mph fastball and a hard curveball consistently, and his clean arm action will allow him to improve. Brown threw more over the top this year, costing him some movement, but he also trimmed up his 6-foot-5, 235-pound body.

6. Ben Harrison, of, Hyannis (Florida)
At 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, Harrison had the best pro body among the Cape’s position players. Only a below-average arm keeps him from five-tool status. "The tools are there," the crosschecker said. "He’s fun to watch."

7. Chris Ray, rhp, Bourne (William & Mary)
Ray won or saved 12 of the Braves’ 16 victories and earned a lot of comparisons to Aardsma. Using a high leg kick, Ray threw a fastball as quick as Aardsma’s and also showed an 82-83 mph slider and a plus splitter. He exerts a little more effort than Aardsma does, and his breaking ball isn’t quite as good.

8. Brian Snyder, 3b, Cotuit (Stetson)
Snyder’s 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame doesn’t fit the pro blueprint for third basemen, but he opened eyes with his all-around play. Snyder used the entire field and hit .294-4-21 with 15 steals. The all-star game MVP, he’s also more agile than expected at the hot corner.

9. Pete Stonard, of/2b, Cotuit (Alabama)
Stonard didn’t secure a Cape roster spot until the late spring, then rewarded the Kettleers with a batting title (.348) and MVP performance. He’s a line-drive, on-base machine who runs well. He lacks some arm strength, and opinion was divided on whether he’s better suited for center field or second base as a pro.

10. Jeremy Sowers, lhp, Wareham (Vanderbilt)
The Cincinnati Reds’ 2001 first-round pick, Sowers joins Whisler as the only freshmen on the Top 10. Observers thought the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder looked somewhat worn down, but he still led the Cape with 65 innings. He repeats his delivery exceptionally well, allowing him to throw his 88-90 mph fastball, plus curveball and developing changeup wherever he wants. He also had the best pickoff move in the league.

11. Lee Mitchell, 3b, Cotuit (Georgia)
With Snyder getting most of the Kettleers’ time at third base, Mitchell split time between there and the hot corner. He has a big league arm that played well at both positions, and he had the Cape’s best raw power this side of Whisler. Mitchell will have to tinker with his swing to make more contact and fare better against breaking stuff.

12. Anthony Gwynn, of, Brewster (San Diego State)
The son of future Hall of Famer and current Aztecs coach Tony Gwynn, Anthony made a name for himself on the Cape. As might be expected, he has a solid approach at the plate and constantly puts the ball in play with a line drive swing. However, he made a more lasting impression with his ability to run balls down in the gaps and was the best center fielder on the Cape.

13. Rodney Allen, of, Orleans (Arizona State)
Another son of a former big leaguer (Rod Sr., currently a broadcaster with the Diamondbacks), the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Allen was one of the league's better athletes. He was nearly Gwynn’s equal as a center fielder and also impressed managers with his bat, speed and makeup.

14. Jeremy Slayden, of, Falmouth (Georgia Tech)
One of six freshmen to play prominent roles on the Commodores, Slayden stood out the most despite arriving late from the College World Series and Team USA tryouts and missing time with hamstring injuries. He has a sweet lefthanded stroke with leverage that gives him power, and scouts noted that he has gotten stronger over the last year.

15. Scott Baker, rhp, Orleans (Oklahoma State)
Teammate Brian Rogers was the Cape pitcher of the year and was one of three Cardinals with better ERAs. But Baker’s combination of stuff and pitchability stood out most on a talented Orleans staff. Baker’s two best offerings are a 90-93 mph fastball and an 80-mph slider, and he also uses a curveball and changeup. He pitches down in the zone and sets up hitters well.

16. Frasier Dizard, lhp, Chatham (Southern California)
Dizard worked just six innings for the Trojans during the spring because of elbow problems. He was kept on a strict pitch count that never topped 90 on the Cape and had to leave early because of a family illness. Before he departed, he displayed a 92-mph fastball and what Chatham manager John Schiffner called the best changeup in the league. His curveball was shaky as he tried to regain confidence in his elbow.

17. Nick Touchstone, lhp, Wareham (Okaloosa-Walton CC)
Touchstone turned down the Yankees as a draft-and-follow and signed with the Angels as an 18th-rounder before the season ended. Far from a prototypical lefthander, he’s 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds and can touch 95 mph. His curveball and slider also have their moments, but he’s going to need to sharpen his breaking stuff and his command.

18. Robbie Van, lhp, Orleans (Nevada-Las Vegas)
As a lefthanded reliever, Van could be on an express route to the majors. He opened the summer on Yarmouth-Dennis as a fill-in player, and when the Red Sox ran out of roster spots he joined Orleans. Van throws a low-90s fastball and had the consensus best slider on the Cape.

19. Gary Bakker, rhp, Cotuit (North Carolina)
There’s plenty of projection left in Bakker’s 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, and he drew raves for his poise. Bakker’s best pitch at this point is his curveball, though he also locates his 87-90 mph fastball extremely well. His arm speed suggests that he’ll be able to add more velocity.

20. Daniel Moore, lhp, Chatham (North Carolina)
Moore fell from 5-2, 1.02 last summer to 2-5, 3.50 this time around, yet he still has big leaguer written all over him. Extremely projectable at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, he has improved both his 89-91 mph fastball and his curveball. Several scouts were on hand for his best outing, a 13-strikeout gem against Hyannis.

21. Jim Brauer, rhp, Yarmouth-Dennis (Michigan)
Brauer turned in the Cape’s most dominating performance this summer, spinning a 14-strikeout no-hitter against Chatham. He doesn’t have a dominating pitch, though he can spot his 90-91 mph fastball, plus changeup, curveball and slider where he wants. Once he fills out his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame, his stuff should get better.

22. David Murphy, of, Wareham (Baylor)
Murphy was one of the league’s most improved players, raising his average 91 points after hitting .213 for the Gatemen in 2001. His arm strength and right-field play were also better this time around. Murphy’s swing and approach are sound, though he’ll have to show more over-the-fence power.

23. Trey Webb, ss, Bourne (Baylor)
In a down year for shortstops, Webb was considered the class of the Cape. His defense is unquestioned, as his arm, hands and glove are all assets. His makeup also was a plus, as he won the league’s 10th player award. Webb will have to get stronger and more selective to become an offensive threat; he batted just .222-0-6.

24. Brian Rogers, rhp, Orleans (Georgia Southern)
The Cape’s pitcher of the year, Rogers posted the second-best ERA in league history at 0.40, trailing only Eric Milton’s 0.21 in 1996. Rogers did it with location, repeating his delivery with ease, and a willingness to pitch inside. His slider and changeup are more impressive than his fastball, which was clocked at 85-90 mph.

25. Trey Taylor, lhp, Wareham (Baylor)
Like his teammate Sowers, Taylor was an early pick in the 2001 draft (supplemental second round, Rockies). Taylor has a tick more velocity on his 88-91 mph fastball and a better pro body at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. His changeup was his more effective pitch on the Cape, and his slurvy curveball also had its moments.

26. Chris Snavely, 2b/of, Harwich (Ohio State)
Snavely is a strong lefthanded hitter with uncommon size (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) and pop for a middle infielder. He started fast this summer, then cooled off once teams started pitching him on the outer half of the plate. He’s adequate as a second baseman and could face a move to third base or left field as a pro.

27. Jamie D’Antona, 3b, Chatham (Wake Forest)
D’Antona was easily the biggest disappointment on the Cape this summer. Managers were disappointed in his mental and physical approach, and he struggled with strikeouts (48 in 43 games) and errors (11). He has big-time power and a strong arm, but a NL scouting director noted that he’ll have to hit a lot of homers to be of much value as a pro.

28. Myron Leslie, 3b, Orleans (South Florida)
Reports on Leslie were mixed. Those who liked him saw him as a switch-hitting athlete with plus third-base skills, average speed and occasional power. His detractors thought his 6-foot-3, 200-pound body lacked some life and weren’t sure he could stay at the hot corner.

29. John Axford, rhp, Hyannis (Notre Dame)
Axford’s stuff rivaled that of any Cape starter. He has a very loose arm that delivers 92-95 mph fastballs and a curveball that’s unhittable at times. But his mechanics and release point are very inconsistent, which prevent him from throwing strikes. He went 0-3, 7.17 with 30 walks in 21 innings, yet his future will be bright if he can find command.

30. David Sanders, lhp, Wareham (Wichita State)
The fourth Gatemen southpaw on this list, Sanders finished second in the ERA race at 0.73. His fastball fluctuated from 83-85 to 88-90 mph, but his changeup and curveball were plus pitches from start to start. He could throw harder if he strengthens his 6-foot-4, 195-pound build, and he’ll need to be more aggressive.

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