2018 Cape Cod League Top Prospects 41-50
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.
41. Greg Veliz, RHP, Chatham (Jr., Miami)
A draft-eligible sophomore this spring, Veliz went undrafted after an arm injury limited him to five games and 17 innings. He returned in time to pitch on the Cape, however, and he went 2-1, 2.57 with 32 strikeouts in 21 innings out of the bullpen for Chatham.
Veliz is listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and has a quick arm. He touched 95 mph at the all-star game and sat in the low 90s. He has a hard slider that can be a plus pitch and also throws a splitter that he uses as a changeup. Veliz has primarily started for Miami but worked as a closer for Chatham. He has the size and stuff to start but his delivery may work better out of the bullpen. He showed this summer that his stuff and mentality work well in that role.
42. Garrett Stallings, RHP, Harwich (Jr., Tennessee)
Stallings made a brief but very effective appearance on the Cape to start the season before leaving for a cultural exchange in Ecuador. He started three games, throwing six innings each time (a rarity in summer ball), and went 1-0, 2.50 with 21 strikeouts and no walks in 18 innings.
Stallings throws his fastball around 90 mph and generates heavy sinking action on the pitch. He has a four-pitch mix, with his changeup the best of his offspeed offerings. He pitches with exceptional control and has averaged 1.27 walks per nine innings over the last two years with Tennessee. Because he isn’t overpowering, Stallings has to be fine to succeed, but he has the tools to start.
43. Trent Denholm, RHP, Yarmouth-Dennis (So., UC Irvine)
Denholm this spring had a solid freshman season at UC Irvine before an outstanding summer with Y-D. He gave up just one run (unearned) in 24.2 innings combined between the regular season and the playoffs. In 10 summer appearances, he went 2-0, 0.00 with 36 strikeouts, eight walks and posted a 1.01 WHIP.
Denholm doesn’t have overpowering stuff but has a good feel for pitching. His fastball sits 90-91 mph and he mixes in a good breaking ball and changeup. He has solid control and a good feel for pitching. Denholm is undersized for a righthander at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, and there will always be questions about his ability to start because of his size. But he pitched all summer as an 18-year-old, making him one of the youngest players on the Cape, and showed he knows how to get outs.
44. Chris Murphy, LHP, Brewster (Jr., San Diego)
Murphy was one of the headliners of San Diego’s strong, pitching-heavy 2016 recruiting class, and he’s been a solid contributor for the Toreros for the last two seasons. He had an impressive summer with Brewster, posting a 31-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23.1 innings.
Murphy stands out most for his power stuff from the left side. His fastball reaches 95 mph in short stints and sits around 90 mph as a starter. His slider can be an out-pitch and he works off it well. He also mixes in a fringy changeup. The knock on Murphy is his control. He has pitched with below-average control for San Diego and struggled this summer to consistently throw strikes. His control, as well as his slight frame (he’s listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds), means he may end up in the bullpen, where his fastball-slider combination plays up.
45. John Rave, OF, Chatham (Jr., Illinois State)
The Red Sox in 2016 drafted Rave out of the Illinois high school ranks but he continued on to Illinois State. He this spring had a strong sophomore season, hitting .347/.402/.571 and carried that momentum into the summer with Chatham, where he more than held his own with his more famous teammates.
Rave, listed at 6-foot, 185 pounds, combines a dirtbag mentality with an intriguing set of tools. The lefthanded batter has a good feel for hitting and makes hard, consistent contact. His power mostly is doubles pop now, but as he physically matures, he may end up with average power. He’s played center field and covers ground well in the outfield, but he’s not a plus runner. That may push him to a corner in the outfield, where there will be more pressure on his bat.
46. Hunter Bishop, OF, Brewster (Jr., Arizona State)
Bishop, the younger brother of Mariners prospect Braden Bishop, has been among the toolsiest players on the Cape in each of the last two summers. But he has struggled to turn his raw ability into production both on the Cape and at Arizona State.
Bishop has five-tool potential and great size at a listed 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, but questions about how much he’ll hit persist. The lefthanded hitter can be passive at the plate, which helps him draw walks, but also puts him behind in the count too often. He has plus raw power, but his approach means he doesn’t get to it enough in games. His speed, athleticism and arm strength all profile well in center field. Bishop is young for the class—he’ll still be 20 on draft day—and he played more football than baseball growing up. That gives reason for optimism that he’ll eventually put it all together, but at this stage he’s a raw, projectable athlete.
47. Matthew Barefoot, OF, Hyannis (R-Jr., Campbell)
Barefoot this spring hit .364/.484/.585 with eight home runs and 33 stolen bases for Campbell and won the Big South Conference batting title. He received some draft interest but went unpicked and reported to Hyannis where he continued to rake, hitting .379/.474/.521 with three home runs and six stolen bases. He won the Cape batting title, at one point had a 22-game hitting streak and led the league in hits (53) and on-base percentage.
Barefoot stands out most for his pure hitting ability. He is an aggressive hitter, but his feel for the barrel means he makes a lot of contact. His summer raised his draft stock, but there are still some limitations to his profile. He’s listed at 6-foot, 205 pounds and is a righthanded hitter primarily playing left field without plus speed or power. He may get a chance in center field in pro ball, but there will be a lot of pressure on his hittability. Barefoot throws lefthanded and has pitched some at Campbell, reportedly touching 93-94 mph, but in college he has been more focused on hitting.
48. Brady Smith, C/3B, Cotuit (So., Florida)
Smith this spring emerged as an everyday player as a freshman for Florida and stepped right into the Cotuit lineup after arriving on the Cape following the College World Series. He hit .333/.412/.431 in 23 games.
Smith has a smooth, level, righthanded swing that enables him to make consistent, hard contact. He hasn’t hit for much power yet in his college career, but as he fills out his 5-foot-11, 188-pound frame, his gap power should turn into more home runs. Smith primarily played third base for Cotuit after mostly playing first base for Florida. His upside would be greatly helped, however, if he proves he can catch, a position he has worked at some. How the rigthhanded hitter develops physically will also be something to watch over the next two years.
49. Spencer Steer, 3B/2B, Orleans (Jr., Oregon)
Steer put together a solid all-around summer with Orleans, hitting .304/.351/.481 with five home runs. He also impressed defensively at both third base and second base, a new position for him.
Steer this summer consistently put the barrel on the ball and produced plenty of solid contact. The righthanded hitter tapped into his solid raw power well and nearly matched his career home run total (six) at Oregon in 36 games with Orleans. Steer, listed at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, has a strong, compact build and has smooth infield actions. He has a strong arm and good hands, which played well at both third and second base. His versatility and all-around skill set make for an intriguing package.
50. George Kirby, RHP, Harwich (Jr., Elon)
Kirby and Kyle Brnovich formed an impressive 1-2 punch atop the Elon rotation this spring. Brnovich was invited to USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, while Kirby spent the summer in the Harwich bullpen. He threw 15 innings in 13 appearances between the regular season and the playoffs and held opponents to two runs on 14 hits and two walks and struck out 28 batters.
Kirby looks the part at a listed 6-foot-4, 207 pounds, and he has a big arm. He routinely ran his fastball into the mid-90s and he controls it well. His curveball is his best secondary offering, but it still needs to be tightened up, and he also mixes in a changeup. Kirby has some effort to his delivery that may end up pushing him to the bullpen, where his stuff plays well.