2022 Cape Cod League Notes Week Four
Over the last few weeks the Cape Cod Baseball League has shed its early season coat for a new look across the league. Several draft-eligible players that were selected in this week’s draft left weeks ago, Team USA invitees have slowly started to trickle into the league again after tryouts, and the turnover across most rosters has been immense.
Each week new players are joining teams leading to a scramble by Cape GMs to find replacements. The shakeup of the draft is starting to settle as we head into the final few weeks and rosters seem to have taken their final form over the last few days.
As for the regular season divisional races, there’s plenty of intrigue as the West Division looks to be a dog fight over the final few weeks. The early leader, Cotuit, has been overtaken by the surging Hyannis Harbor Hawks, and the Hyannis roster has really been clicking on all cylinders. Bourne presents a threat to both Hyannis and Cotuit as it’s just five points off from the Kettleers and six from the Harbor Hawks with just one game left against each club over the season’s final two days. There’s a clear favorite in the East Division in Kelly Pickler’s Yarmouth-Dennis squad as it’s seven points up on second-place Brewster.
Below are scouting reports and breakdowns on some of the most impressive performers on the Cape.
Magdiel Cotto, LHP, Kentucky (Hyannis—2023 Eligible)
An imposing lefthander with loud stuff but command questions who made 15 appearances for Kentucky this spring, Cotto has taken a step forward this summer and performed well for Hyannis over the first several weeks. He’s made seven appearances with only one real blemish, a 2.2-inning outing where he allowed three earned runs on June 16. In the month since that outing Cotto has allowed just two earned runs over 18.1 innings with 21 strikeouts to eight walks.
On July 8 Cotto went 5.1 innings against Falmouth, holding the Commodores scoreless for the first five frames before Alex Mooney got a hold of a high fastball and drove it out in the bottom of the sixth. Cotto dominated with his fastball, sitting 94-96 mph from the left side with a tighter gyro-type slider at 83-86 mph. He mixed in the changeup as well, snapping off a few above-average changeeups with heavy arm-side run. Cotto showed the makings of a real three-pitch mix with power and solid movement profiles. He needs to continue to improve the command of his arsenal, but he’s shown improved feel and execution throughout the summer. He’s a rare power lefthander with a three-pitch mix and starter ceiling.
Mitch Jebb, SS, Michigan State (Hyannis—2023 Eligible)
The speedy Michigan State infielder first surfaced on the Cape as a member of the Cotuit Kettleers during the preseason. After an early season roster crunch for the Kettleers Jebb was released and immediately signed by West Division rival Hyannis. After taking a few games to settle in, Jebb has been among the most consistent hitters in the league. He’s among the Cape leaders in batting average, hits, runs, doubles, triples, walks and stolen bases, using his plus bat-to-ball skills and speed to impact the game offensively.
It’s an unusual setup at the plate as he gets deep into his back leg with his knee fully bent before uncoiling with a long stride forward and slingshotting his bat through the zone. It’s a heavy line drive-focused swing that looks to shoot the gaps and use his wheels to make plays. Jebb isn’t overly physical but is a plus athlete that does everything fast. He’s a plus to double-plus runner with instincts to use his soles on the bases. He has plenty of bat speed despite being limited in terms of power. Offensively, whether he can add power is the one question surrounding his profile. Defensively, he has range but his arm will likely limit him to second base long term.
He’s a twitchy and athletic player who makes things happen at the plate and on the basepaths. Jebb is an excellent table setter with the ability to get into scoring position with ease.
Grant Taylor, RHP, Louisiana State (Brewster—2023 Eligible)
A freshman for the Tigers this spring, Taylor made a handful of starts for Brewster before being shut down for the summer. Taylor is a physical righthander with a heavy rock back, longer arm action and a vertical release point. He saw limited work for LSU this season, pitching 31 innings across 17 appearances.
On July 12 Taylor made his final start for the Whitecaps at Yarmouth-Dennis. He went six innings, allowing an earned run on four hits, striking out 12 and not walking a batter. He mixed a kitchen sink worth of pitches, but primarily worked off of his fastball and curveball. His four-seam fastball sits 93-94 mph, touching 95 mph with heavy bore, and it generated swings and misses throughout the outing. He showed strong command for the fastball as well in this outing, locating at the top and bottom of the zone and showing no fear when it came to locating in on lefties.
His primary secondary was a jaw-dropping curveball at 77-78 mph with over 20 inches of drop at its best. It was a higher-spin offering, clocking in at 2,500-2,600 rpm. He mixes in a cutter, slider and changeup, all showing unique shapes and giving him three different pitch shapes and velocity bands to mix off of his fastball and curveball. Beyond just the depth of Taylor’s arsenal, he commanded everything extremely well.
He didn’t walk a batter in his final outing, leaving few mistakes for hitters to jump on all game. It should be noted that Taylor’s July 12 start came at Yarmouth-Dennis’ Red Wilson Field—one of the best hitting environments on the Cape. He controlled the zone and the pace all game long, mixing in his deep arsenal as he ran through the Y-D lineup twice. How Taylor fits into the complicated puzzle of LSU’s roster next spring remains to be seen, but he showed his upside as a draft-eligible pro prospect for next July’s draft.
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Paul Gervase, RHP, LSU (Brewster—2022 Eligible)
Selected by the Mets in the 13th round, the 6-foot-10 Gervase made seven appearances for Brewster prior to the draft. During his time with the Whitecaps Gervase was dominant out of the bullpen, allowing just two earned runs on five hits and nine walks across 11.1 innings. He made his final appearance on July 12th tossing three scoreless innings against Yarmouth-Dennis, allowing a single hit and striking out six batters of the eleven he faced.
At six-foot-ten, Gervase easily gets extension and due his low slot is able to generate release heights in the mid-five-foot range this creates a flat plane of approach to the plate making it difficult for hitters to track. He sat just 92-94 mph but with his large frame it’s not unreasonable to think he could sit mid-90s as a reliever. He mixed in a slider as his primary secondary and it had cutter hybrid type shape. He threw strikes during this outing and got swings and misses on his fastball. Not likely a starting candidate long term but an unusual look from the bullpen that could add strength and velocity in the coming years.
Luke Shliger, C, Maryland (Yarmouth-Dennis—2023 Eligible)
After playing sparingly his freshman year, Shliger made the jump to full-time catcher for the Terrapins, starting 54 games behind the plate in 2022. He hit .349/.492/.598 with 12 home runs and 14 stolen bases. Shliger is undersized, listed at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, but is athletic and twitchy, particularly for a backstop. Despite the home run numbers this spring, Shliger has below-average power, though he has the bat speed and barrel control to ambush pitches left middle-in.
Shliger’s offensive game is predicated on his ability to control the zone and make contact with the ball in a variety of locations. His hand-eye coordination is well above-average, and he’s twitchy and stocky strong despite his smaller build. He puts the ball in play consistently and has the quickness and above-average running ability to push for extra bases on balls to the gaps. He has a strong foundational offensive profile and does a variety of things well.
Behind the plate, Shliger has displayed good overall defensive skills, as he’s a good receiver and blocker on low pitches in the dirt, moves well behind the plate and looks loose and comfortable in the crouch. He’s been excellent at controlling the notoriously aggressive basepaths of the Cape Cod League, throwing out 7-of-9 attempted basestealers. The reports back up his numbers with consistent sub-1.90-second pop times.
A good all-around player in an unusual package, Shliger is a polished hitter and defender who could hear his name called early in day two of next July’s draft. His ability to not only control the running game but receive and block make him a likely fit behind the plate long term, while his offensive game provides a ton of situational hitting and on-base ability.
Juaron Watts-Brown, RHP, Long Beach State (Falmouth—2023 Eligible)
An incredibly athletic and projectable righthander who spent last season with Long Beach State but entered the transfer portal this summer, Watts-Brown has been one of the buzzier names on the circuit with the draft-eligible sophomore providing both college recruiters and pro scouts a reason to watch. He stands a lean 6-foot-2 but appears larger due to his long limbs and high waist. It’s the type of frame that should add strength in the coming years without getting overly bulky. Mechanically, Watts-Brown is smooth with an easy semi-windup, as he has very little movement outside a moderate leg lift. He delivers from a true three-quarters slot and repeats fairly well.
His pitch mix consists of a four-seam fastball in the 93-96 mph range, a two-seam variation typically in the low 90s and a slider, curveball and changeup. His fastball is his primary pitch, and the only offering in his repertoire that projects as a plus pitch long term. It sits low-to-mid 90s with heavy vertical break, running his induced vertical break numbers upwards of 20 inches. His two-seam variation wasn’t as sharp, and there was some debate among scouts whether or not it was a two-seam or a changeup. His slider was the best of his secondaries—a little tighter than his curveball and with more power. Long term the slider projects to be Watts-Brown’s best secondary offering, a tighter, gyro-spin offering with nearly zero vertical break. He used it consistently in two-strike counts but it lacks the velocity and late dump to be a true wipeout pitch at present. His curveball has a little more depth at 79-81 mph but at times looked like a loose version of his slider.
Watts-Brown’s command of his fastball and ability to land his secondaries waned throughout his July 9 start as he dropped down to 90-92 mph on his fastball with fewer strikes as the start wore on. Overall he’s an athletic and projectable arm with the upside to add power to his arsenal in the coming years. He will need to get more definitive shapes for his secondaries long term to project as a viable starter.