Baseball America is pleased to present Cape Cod League video this summer courtesy of OnDeck Digital, an exciting new company founded by former Southern California star and major leaguer Randy Flores. OnDeck is filming Cape League games in high definition from multiple camera angles, allowing customers to watch at-bats in a split screen that shows every pitch from behind the plate and from the side, alongside a panel displaying the game situation and pitch velocity. Customers can watch entire condensed games, or choose to only view clips of a particular player. For more information, visit OnDeckDigital.com.
Injuries have hit the Chatham Anglers hard during their 14-20 start, forcing them to stack their lineup with lefthanded hitters. As a result, the Anglers have faced one lefthanded spot starter after another.
Righthanded slugger A.J. Murray (Georgia Tech) has feasted on all the southpaws, while lefthanded power hitter Chris Shaw (Boston College) has also benefited from the extra at-bats against lefties, making significant progress against them. Shaw leads the Cape Cod League with six homers through 135 at-bats, while Murray is tied for second with five long balls in 132 at-bats.
Shaw, a rising junior right fielder/first baseman for Boston College, has emerged as one of the breakout stars of the summer. Murray, a senior first baseman for Georgia Tech, is rehabilitating his prospect stock after going undrafted at the end of his quiet junior year. Together, they form the most dangerous power-hitting duo in the Cape League.
Shaw hit just .165/.266/.305 as a freshman in 2013, but he did flash power potential, as six of his 27 hits were home runs. He followed it up with a strong summer in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, where he ranked as the No. 8 prospect, though he was still vulnerable against lefthanded breaking balls. Shaw took a big step forward this spring, hitting .329/.393/.502 with six homers and 18 doubles, and he is hitting .281 this summer. Though he has 29 strikeouts and 11 walks, Shaw’s approach has gradually improved this summer, especially against lefties.
“He’s staying closed more, being more patient,” Chatham manager John Schiffner said. “They're trying to go away from him, and he's going the other way a lot. He’s had a very solid summer. He's a big boy. And he's strong, a beast.”
At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Shaw’s calling card is his provocative power potential, which rates among the best of any player on the Cape. He could hit enough to profile at first base, but he has become an adequate defender in right field, increasing his value.
“His issue is foot speed—he doesn't run well,” Schiffner said. “The area he covers, he covers fairly well. He's not going to cut the ball off in the gap, but if it's in his neighborhood, he's catching it, and he has a very good throwing arm. He’s a good athlete.”
Murray doesn’t profile as well, as a 6-foot-1, 215-pound righthanded-hitting first baseman, but his raw power has intrigued scouts since his high school days in New Jersey. He has hit just nine homers over the last two years as an everyday player at Georgia Tech, but Schiffner said he came to the Cape with something prove this summer, and he has made a statement with his bat. He was hitting .331 and tied for the league lead with five homers before three straight hitless days dropped him down to .303.
“He's been strong throughout the summer,” Schiffner said. “As soon as he got here, he started hitting, and pretty much hasn't stopped. There’s no question he came here with the intent to possibly sign. The thing is, there's a lot of 6-foot righthanded-hitting first basemen with some power. He's going to have to take it to the next level next year.”
Schiffner said Murray has mashed against lefties but handled righties well too. Notably, he hit a game-winning opposite-field home run against power-armed Hyannis righthander Ian Gibaut.
“He goes oppo fine. He likes to pull, obviously, and he’s getting the opportunity to pull because he has seen so many lefties,” Schiffner said. “He’s really worked on his hitting. He’s a very, very strong kid.”