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2018 Cape Cod League Top 10 Prospects

Image credit: Andrew Vaughn, shown hitting, was the Cape League's top prospect in 2018. (Photo courtesy of Caroline O'Connor)

Wareham swept through the Cape Cod League playoffs to win its first championship since 2012, defeating Chatham in the finals.

The Gatemen went 6-0 in the playoffs, led by third baseman Austin Shenton (Florida International). He homered three times in six playoff games and was named MVP of the championship series.

The Cape’s strength was sluggers at corner positions. Andrew Vaughn, Spencer Torkelson and Matt Wallner were just a few of the league’s standouts who fit that profile. Pitching was down this summer, a reflection in part of the overall 2019 class. Still, the league figures to again produce several first-round picks for the 2019 draft.

To be eligible for this ranking, position players must have played 15 games or taken 50 plate appearances, and pitchers must have appeared in at least five games or thrown 16 innings.

To see the rest of the list…

1. Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Wareham (Jr., California)

Vaughn had a sensational sophomore season at Cal and won the Golden Spikes Award after hitting .402/.531/.819 with 23 home runs. A veteran of USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, he was invited back again this summer. But because Cal did not reach the NCAA Tournament, Vaughn was able to spend the first couple weeks of his summer on the Cape, where he hit .308/.368/.654 with five home runs in 14 games. He was the Cape’s home run leader when he left and despite his early departure, just 12 players in the league hit more home runs.

Vaughn has done nothing but hit in college, and that didn’t stop during his time with Wareham. He is very disciplined at the plate and does a good job of consistently barreling up the ball. He has plus power and has learned to get to it well.

Vaughn presents one of the most interesting profiles of any player in the draft class. He has established himself as one of the best hitters for the 2019 draft, but he is also a righthanded-hitting first baseman listed at 5-foot-11, 215 pounds. That puts extra pressure on Vaughn’s bat, but if he keeps hitting the way he has been, it won’t hold him back much.

2. Spencer Torkelson, OF/1B, Chatham (So., Arizona State)

Torkelson took college baseball by storm this spring and led the nation with 25 home runs. He earned a spot on Team USA, but still spent most of the summer hitting in the middle of Chatham’s lineup. He hit .333/.472/.704 with seven home runs in 25 regular season games with the Anglers and added three more homers in six playoff games.

Torkelson has well above-average raw power and has consistently shown the ability to get to it in games. The righthanded hitter generates impressive bat speed with his quick hands and the strength in his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame. Like many young power hitters, Torkelson has some swing-and-miss in his game, and he struck out 22.6 percent of the time on the Cape, but he also walked about as much as he struck out.

Torkelson played first base at Arizona State this spring, but he worked exclusively in right field for Chatham. He’s a work in progress in the outfield, but he has enough athleticism to give him a chance to stick there with more experience. His bat will play at any position, and while talk of him being the top overall pick in 2020 is premature, he’s established himself as one of the best hitters in the college ranks.

3. Will Holland, SS, Hyannis (Jr., Auburn)

Holland started his summer with Team USA but was unable to break through in a crowded infield. He arrived in Hyannis in early July and showcased an impressive skill set over the next two weeks before his summer was brought to an end when he was hit on the wrist by a pitch.

Holland is toolsy and this year established a strong track record for performance. He’s an aggressive hitter who struck out 14 times in 51 plate appearances with Hyannis, but he can put a charge into the ball. He has more power than his 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame suggests, and he produces a lot of hard-hit balls. He is a plus runner who knows how to use his speed on the bases.

Holland can make highlight-reel plays at shortstop and has both the range and arm strength for the position. Much like he is at the plate, he is still a bit raw defensively, but his tools will play at shortstop if he can smooth out some of the rough edges.

4. Alek Manoah, RHP, Chatham (Jr., West Virginia)

Manoah has mostly worked out of the bullpen over the last two years for West Virginia, but this summer he was one of the best starters on the Cape. He went 3-2, 2.70 and led the league with 48 strikeouts in 33.1 innings.

Manoah strikes an imposing figure on the mound at a listed 6-foot-7, 270 pounds and has the fastball to match. He pitches in the mid-90s and can touch 98 mph in shorter stints. His slider is his best secondary pitch and has the makings of a plus offering. He also mixes in a good changeup.

Manoah fills the strike zone and holds his velocity well, giving plenty of indications that he can remain in the rotation. He figures to become one of the highest drafted players in West Virginia history, with a chance to become the program’s first first-rounder since 1997.

5. Ryne Nelson, RHP, Yarmouth-Dennis (Jr., Oregon)

Nelson was a two-way player at Oregon this spring, playing shortstop and closing games for the Ducks. He has one of the most electric arms in the country. He touched 99 mph this spring and focused on pitching this summer at Yarmouth-Dennis.

Nelson has a power arm and electric stuff. His fastball reached 95 mph in the Cape all-star game, and he mixes in a sharp, hard slider as well as a changeup. Listed at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, he has a long, lean, athletic frame and a clean delivery.

Nelson has never started but is expected to do so at Oregon next spring. Scouts are optimistic about his ability to handle the role. Even if he ultimately fits better in the bullpen, he’ll still likely be one of the premium arms for the 2019 draft, which is short on slam-dunk starters.

6. Noah Campbell, 2B/SS, Yarmouth-Dennis (So., South Carolina)

After a solid freshman year at South Carolina, Campbell hit .364/.456/.636 with six home runs and seven stolen bases for Yarmouth-Dennis and finished second in the league in hitting.

Campbell has exciting all-around tools. He has quick hands, which are the key to making his unconventional swing work. A switch-hitter, he makes hard contact and produces solid power. He’s also a plus runner, though his swing is geared more for getting the most out of his power than letting his speed play.

Campbell still is finding a defensive home. He has played some shortstop, but his infield actions and arm need work for him to stay there. His speed makes center field a possibility, but his bat may profile in a corner, particularly if he fills out his 6-foot, 190-pound frame. Regardless of where he ends up, his package of tools makes him an exciting player.

7. Tyler Dyson, RHP, Falmouth (Jr., Florida)

Dyson opened the spring as Florida’s Sunday starter, pitching behind Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar in the rotation. A nagging shoulder injury limited him in the second half of the season, but he was able to get back on the mound and pitch well for Falmouth.

At his best, Dyson can be as electric as his former Gators teammates. He can run his fastball into the mid-90s and mixes in a sharp slider and an effective changeup. Listed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he has the size, stuff and control to start.

Dyson still needs to improve his consistency—he loses his crispness for an inning at times and things go sideways—and prove his durability in the rotation for a full spring. But if he can put it all together, Dyson can front the Gators’ rotation and follow the well-worn path from Gainesville to the first round.

8. Matt Wallner, OF, Falmouth (Jr., Southern Mississippi)

Wallner, the 2017 Freshman of the Year, reported to Falmouth after a stint with Team USA to start the summer. After an adjustment period on the Cape, he settled into the Commodores’ lineup.

Listed at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Wallner has impressive physical tools and makes the most of them. He has plus raw power but will have to become more consistent at the plate to get the most out of it. Including the playoffs, he struck out in 25 percent of his plate appearances on the Cape. He made some adjustments at the plate and became less pull-oriented later in the summer.

Wallner has above-average speed and a plus arm and looks the part of a prototype right fielder. He also has pitched for Southern Miss, and his arm strength plays well on the mound, but he didn’t pitch this summer and his future is as an outfielder.

9. Logan Davidson, SS, Falmouth (Jr., Clemson)

Over the last two years, Davidson has built a dichotomous track record. At Clemson, he has raked and looked like a future first-rounder. But hitting with wood bats on the Cape, he has now struggled in back-to-back years. This summer he hit .194/.292/.266 with two home runs and struck out in a quarter of his plate appearances.

If Davidson goes in the top three rounds of the 2019 draft, as expected, his poor Cape performance will have few precedents since 2000. His adjusted OPS+ of 58 (where 100 is average) would be the third-lowest for a player with at least 100 at-bats on the Cape the summer before his draft year in the past 19 years.

Despite his poor summer performance, Davidson’s standout tools remain attractive to scouts. Long and lean at a listed 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, the switch-hitter has above-average power and enough athleticism to give him a chance at shortstop. His swing has some length to it, which along with an inconsistent approach leads to his high strikeout rate.

Davidson has improved at shortstop over the last year, but he’ll need to further refine his infield actions and range to stick. With another solid offensive season at Clemson, he will probably go in the first round, but a pair of discouraging summers have raised questions.

10. J.J. Bleday, OF, Orleans (Jr., Vanderbilt)

A two-year starter at Vanderbilt, Bleday led the Commodores in hitting this spring. He put together a strong summer with Orleans, hitting .311/.374/.500 with five home runs.

Bleday is listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and looks the part of a right fielder. He has good pitch recognition and does a good job of consistently barreling the ball. The lefthanded hitter has a balanced swing, produces good bat speed and got to his plus raw power better this summer than he has previously.

Bleday has plus arm strength and covers ground in the outfield. Players with his profile don’t often go in the first round, but if he makes a jump with his power, like Oregon State’s Trevor Larnach did this spring, he could become an exception to the rule.

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