Devastating Miller ranks atop Cape Cod League prospect list
by Jim Callis
CHICAGO—The top of our annual Cape Cod League prospect rankings often resembles the top of the subsequent major league draft list. All six of the draft-eligible players on BA's 2003 Cape Top 10 list went in the first round of the 2004 draft.
Rice righthanders Philip Humber (Yarmouth-Dennis), Jeff Niemann (Harwich) and Wade Townsend (Wareham) went off the board in the first eight picks, as did Vanderbilt lefty Jeremy Sowers (Wareham). Oklahoma lefty David Purcey (Orleans) and Boston College righty Chris Lambert (Chatham) were the 16th and 19th overall choices.
Pro teams will have to wait an extra year before they can get their hands on this summer's No. 1 prospect, however. That's because Chatham lefthander Andrew Miller is just entering his sophomore year at North Carolina.
Miller turned in two of the Cape's most talked-about performances in 2004. He struck out the side four times in four innings against Falmouth before the game was called because of fog, then needed just 15 pitches to fan the side in order during the all-star game.
1. Andrew Miller, lhp, Chatham (North Carolina).
Had he been signable, Miller would have been an early first-round pick out of high school in 2003. Scouts are marveling that his stuff has continued to improve, as he overmatches hitters with a 94-96 mph fastball and an 82-85 mph slider. The scary thing is that he'll get even better as he fills out his 6-foot-6, 190-pound frame and improves his command.
"His arm is so electric," Chatham manager John Schiffner said. "His breaking pitch is devastating when it's on, and his fastball is amazing. He was unbelievable in the all-star game."
2. Tyler Greene, ss, Orleans (Georgia Tech).
Scouts voted Greene, who played with Team USA last summer, the winner of the league's official top-prospect award. A defensive standout with questionable hitting skills in high school, he's now a rare five-tool shortstop.
"He was skinny and couldn't handle the bat in high school," an American League scouting director said, "but he's a beast now." His arm, hands and range are all above-average, though Greene got a little lackadaisical on routine plays this summer.
3. Craig Hansen, rhp, Harwich (St. John's).
Hansen's numbers are as sick as the combination of his mid-90s fastball and high-80s slider. He didn't allow an earned run and had a 41-2 strikeout-walk ratio in 22 innings, and the league hit .120 against him. His delivery, control and changeup may allow him to become a big league starter.
4. Dallas Buck, rhp, Falmouth (Oregon State).
Buck didn't light up radar guns like some of the other Cape arms, but no one beat his 0.77 ERA. His low-90s fastball and slider dance around bats, and he has a lively changeup as well. The only knock on him is that his delivery could be cleaner.
"His stuff is like David Cone's," a National League scouting director said. "He has a really live, hard slider and just wicked, wicked stuff. His stuff is so electric. It's moving everywhere."
5. Stephen Head, 1b/lhp, Chatham (Mississippi).
Head had one of the best pure swings on the Cape. He's still learning to drive the ball for power, but there's little doubt that it eventually will come, and he's also a solid defender at first base. Head, who has good command of decent stuff, had six wins and five saves for Mississippi this spring but didn't pitch for Chatham.
6. Mark McCormick, rhp, Wareham (Baylor).
McCormick was also No. 6 on this list a year ago, and he still has the same 94-98 mph fastball and tantalizing curveball. He still needs to show more life with his heater and more consistency with his curve. And he still hasn't allayed command and makeup concerns that have existed since his high school days.
7. Daniel Carte, of, Falmouth (Winthrop).
Carte began the summer in an 0-for-19 slump and ended it as the Cape's MVP. He led the league in homers (11), RBIs (38) and slugging percentage (.560), and he became the sixth player ever to reach double figures in longballs and steals (13). Not physically imposing at 6 feet and 190 pounds, he does damage with quick hands and strong forearms. His other tools are solid across the board.
8. Ryan Mullins, lhp, Chatham (Vanderbilt).
He's not as scary as Miller, but Mullins was the Cape's most polished pitcher and trumped his Chatham teammate in ERA (1.82 to 2.03) and K-BB ratio (9.1 to 1.8). Mullins, the top prospect in the New England Collegiate League last summer, has three solid pitches: an 86-91 mph fastball he throws to both sides of the plate, a slider and a changeup.
9. Cliff Pennington, ss, Falmouth (Texas A&M).
A 5-foot-11 scrapper, Pennington was an easy choice for the league's 10th player award. He led the Cape in steals (21), showed good discipline and some pop from both sides of the plate, and got the job done defensively with a strong arm and nice range. He also helped lead Falmouth, which went 0-5 before he arrived, to the Western Division title.
10. Kevin Whelan, rhp, Wareham (Texas A&M).
The Cape's saves leader (11) and reliever of the year, Whelan pitched just nine innings and was primarily a backup catcher at Texas A&M this spring. He's similar to Hansen but less polished. Whelan touches 96 mph with a four-seam fastball and has a two-seamer that dives so much it gets mistaken for a splitter.
You can reach Jim Callis by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.