Cape Cod League Notes Week Seven
The Cape Cod League regular season came to a close earlier this week, which means the waning days of the summer season are upon us. The race in each division came down to the final game as Bourne defeated Cotuit in a winner-take-all game for the President’s Trophy, awarded to the team with the best regular season record, and the West Division crown. A late season slump saw Yarmouth-Dennis finish 0-7-1 over its final two weeks of the season and yield the East Division to the defending league champions Brewster.
With the closing of the regular season schedule the league announced its award winners with Cotuit’s Tommy Troy (Stanford) winning best pro prospect while Matt Shaw (Maryland) of Bourne took home the Pat Sorenti Award which is given to the league's most valuable player. Shaw, detailed in the last edition of Cape Cod League Notes, finished the season as the league’s batting champion with a .360 batting average.
After last week’s article detailed a group of standout hitters, this week we discuss some of the standout pitching prospects from this summer. Below are 10 pitchers who stood out for their performance over the course of the Cape Cod League season.
Jackson Baumeister, RHP, Florida State (Hyannis—2023 Eligible)
One of the top pitching recruits to get to campus this spring, Baumeister headed to Hyannis after a mediocre season with Florida State. He made six starts on the Cape with the Harbor Hawks, though his debut heavily tarnished his overall line, as he gave up four earned runs against Wareham on June 16 without recording an out. In his remaining five starts Baumeister allowed just six earned runs over 21 innings—good for a 2.57 ERA. Baumeister mixes four pitches in a fastball with two-seam and four-seam variations, a curveball, slider and changeup.
In his final Cape Cod League start of the summer Baumesiter went four innings, allowing three runs, four hits, two walks and five strikeouts as he faced 18 batters on the day. All of Baumeister’s trouble came in the second inning where he allowed a double, two singles and two walks as Falmouth scored all three of its runs against Baumeister during the frame. The other three innings Baumesiter was perfect, setting down the side in order in the first, third and fourth innings, striking out three of the final five batters he faced. Baumeister showed the depth of his arsenal, attacking hitters with five different pitch shapes in and around the zone.
Baumeister's arsenal is quality but lacks a true out pitch, with his curveball, slider and changeup all showing the ability to miss bats in flashes, but all were plagued by inconsistent shape and power. His four-seam fastball is his primary offering with strong movement and release qualities. Baumeister’s four-seam shape is very much in-line with what many view as the modern fastball, as Baumeister gets on average 19-20 inches of induced vertical break, a number well above major league average. What’s unique isn’t the vertical movement itself but the ability to generate that movement from a low release height. That combination of qualities allows Baumeister to create a flat angle as his fastball approaches the plate, making it more difficult for hitters to get on plane with the pitch. His velocity was below-average, however, sitting 92-93 mph early before backing up to 89-91 mph over the final few innings. He also showed two-seam shape which was an effective pitch when thrown inside to righthanders, but is more of a change-of-pace look than a primary part of his arsenal.
He pairs his fastball with three secondaries with his curveball seeing the most usage. It’s a slow breaker in the mid 70s with a tremendous amount of depth, getting over a foot of drop with horizontal tilt as well. The vertical separation between his fastball and curveball is tremendous but the breaking ball didn’t seem to fool too many batters. It more often than not was more effective freezing hitters but didn’t get as many swings. He commanded the pitch well throughout the summer with a strike rate in the low 60s, a high number for a curveball with that depth. He mixes in a changeup against lefthanded hitters that flashed above-average when executed but was inconsistent out of the hand, particularly early. He showed a slider as well at 80-82 mph with sweepy shape but he showed less confidence in the pitch than his curveball or changeup. Overall there’s a starter’s tool kit here with a smooth lower-effort operation and projection remaining in his long 6-foot-4 frame.
Lebarron Johnson, RHP, Texas (Chatham—2023 Eligible)
A strong bodied 6-foot-5 righthander, Johnson came out of the pen for an inning of work against Cotuit on July 22 and flashed powerful stuff. He sat 94-95 mph, touching 96 mph with a fastball with heavy cut and steep downhill plane. His fastball had the look and shape of a heavy groundball driver, playing up in short bursts from the pen. He showed two breaking ball shapes with a mid-80s slider that was a little tighter than his low-80s breaking ball with sweep.
Overall, Johnson is a powerful arm who likely projects best as a reliever in professional ball. His fastball and breaking ball combination could play, driving groundballs and whiffs. His performance overall this summer was inconsistent but in his penultimate appearance he flashed loud stuff and had multiple avenues to generate outs.
Brian Hendry, RHP, Oklahoma State (Chatham—2023 Eligible)
After spending three seasons at St. John’s Hendry entered the portal this summer and committed to Oklahoma State. He came on for an inning of work on July 22 against Cotuit. Hendry didn’t pitch for St. John’s in 2022 after making eight starts for the Red Storm during the spring of 2021.
He sat 92-93 mph on his fastball. It has a four-seam variation with ride when he locates it up in the zone and a sinker-like variation he throws low in the zone creating downhill plane. His breaking ball was his standout, however, sitting 80-82 mph with tremendous depth and and late horizontal break giving it a classic 11-5 shape. He utilized a full windup with a smooth, clean operation, with a little effort in his arm action.
After a year off and just two innings of work on the Cape this summer it will be interesting to see what sort of role Hendry fills for the Cowboys next spring. Without question Hendry has a signature pitch in his breaking ball and at least an average fastball but is he best in short bursts out of the pen or can he sustain his pitch quality as a starter?
Cam Brown, RHP, TCU (Chatham—2023 Eligible)
A highly rated arm in the 2023 draft class, Brown made four appearances, three of them starts for Chatham. On July 22 he made his longest appearance of the season at Lowell Park against Cotuit. He went 3.1 innings, allowing four runs on three hits, four walks and three strikeouts. He showed a four-pitch mix with two fastball variations. He showed two different breaking ball shapes as well as a changeup that flashed plus.
His fastball sat 94-95 mph, touching 97 mph at peak. He generates velocity with easy plus arm speed that allows him to generate power without exerting a high level of effort. Neither his four-seam or two-seam flashed anything beyond average movement. He didn't ride his four-seamer and his two-seamer showed acute sink and run. Despite a lack of power and unique release traits Brown has plus power in his heater, allowing the pitch to play despite the lack of movement.
His best secondary was his changeup, a firm upper-80s offering with heavy parachuting movement. In the first inning of his July 22 start at Cotuit he flashed what can only be described as an easy plus changeup. In that outing four of his six whiffs came against the pitch. It’s a good enough pitch that it should see a majority of his secondary usage, even in right-on-right matchups.
In addition to the changeup Brown also showed a pair of breaking ball shapes in a tighter, short slider at 84-85 mph and a curveball at 81-82 mph. They both featured high spin rates, but neither produced quality shape or results. He showed better feel for the slider than the curveball but neither pitch was executed well.
Execution is a problem overall for Brown as he struggled to find consistency throughout his July 22 start, coming out with a bang in the first before struggling to throw strikes over the next two innings. He seemed to lose his release point for stretches which in turn led to him yanking breaking balls and his fastball. If Brown can harness his command he has the mix necessary to start. He has a signature secondary, power in his fastball and feel for spin. Execution on a pitch-by-pitch basis is paramount for Brown's development long term.
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Ben Johnson, RHP, Georgia Southern (Cotuit—2023 Eligible)
The Georgia Southern righthander was initially a member of the Kettleers bullpen over the early part of the season. He had a standout start on July 14 in a loss to Orleans, tossing 5.2 innings of scoreless ball, striking out seven and allowing a hit and a walk. He followed that up with solid but unspectacular performances against Bourne and Hyannis. Johnson was chosen to represent the West Division in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game as he had allowed just three earned runs over 18.1 innings up to that point. In the game he came on in the second and worked a clean inning.
Johnson utilizes a three-pitch mix led by a four-seam fastball at 89-91 mph with heavy ride and late life. He can generate whiffs with the fastball when elevated in the upper quadrants but it lacks the velocity to overpower opposing hitters. His command of the pitch comes and goes as he struggled at points over his final two starts with strike throwing. His secondary pitches consist of a slider at 81-84 mph with slurvy break and spin rates in the 2,200-2,400 range and a splitter with late downward tumble.
His mechanics are fairly loose but there’s some effort in the arm action as he delivers from a high three-quarters slot. He spins off to the first base side, with his plant foot open upon release. There’s potentially some areas to clean up in Johnson’s lower half that could portend more velocity and strike throwing long term. Overall Johnson showed feel for a three-pitch mix with some athleticism on the mound. He looks like a potential option in next summer’s draft as a later day two pick.
Josh Stewart, RHP, Texas A&M (Falmouth—2024 Eligible)
As a freshman at Texas, Stewart made 10 appearances, nine in relief, for the Longhorns. Following the 2022 campaign, Stewart entered the transfer portal and committed to Texas A&M. He made 11 appearances for the Commodores this summer, all in relief. He was a noticeable bright spot in the Falmouth bullpen, as he allowed just one earned run over 16.1 innings of work with 20 strikeouts to just three walks.
Stewart’s mechanics are fairly low-effort with few moving parts and an easy arm action that delivers the ball from a high three-quarters slot. He repeats well and doesn’t struggle to replicate his release point. He deploys a four-pitch arsenal consisting of a four-seam fastball, a short slider at 82-84 mph, a curveball at 79-81 mph with more depth than his slider and a changeup. He misses bats with his fastball due to the late life and above-average vertical break he creates from his higher release point. He commands his fastball at an above-average level and shows feel for spin across his arsenal, with 2,500 rpm on his four-seam and above-average spin rates on his breaking pitches. He's a solid overall prospect with a smooth operation, command of his entire arsenal and a prototypical pitcher's build. Whether he’s transitioned into a starter over the next two seasons at Texas A&M remains to be seen.
Jay Driver, RHP, Harvard (Hyannis—2023 Eligible)
Arguably one of the nastiest pitchers to work in relief on the Cape this summer, Driver transitioned to starting over the final few weeks of the season. He worked exclusively as a reliever for Harvard this spring, making 15 appearances and striking out 45 batters to 13 walks over 28.1 innings. Over the course of the summer he’s been one of the most essential members of the Harbor Hawks' pitching staff.
Driver gives hitters an unusual look. He starts from a fairly pedestrian semi-windup before bending deep at the waist, reminiscent of a submariner pre-throw. As he drops down and drives he slings the ball from a sidearm slot with a crossfire finish. This allows the horizontal movement on his pitches to play up as Driver creates a ton of side spin on all of his offerings.
In his appearance on July 21, Driver worked a clean inning of relief, striking out two of the three batters he faced. His fastball sat 92-94 mph with natural sink and heavy run. The pitch gave batters fits throughout the inning of work. He paired his sinker with a sweepy slider in the 82-83 mph range and a devastating changeup at 86-87 mph. His changeup was unhittable when landed, with heavy tumble and fade. Driver’s changeup not only passed the eye test but his vertical and horizontal break numbers were noteworthy.
In subsequent appearances Driver showed less command, but he was overall very effective while transitioning to a starting role. Draft eligible in 2023, Driver certainly flashed top-five round stuff this summer.
Cade Boxrucker, RHP, Campbell (Bourne—2023 Eligible)
Boxrucker is a tall, slender and athletic righthander who delivers the ball from a low three-quarters, slingshot-like arm action. He starts from a semi-windup position but very deliberately moves into the stretch before each throw. There’s some effort in his arm action but he repeats his release point well and doesn't lack execution.
Boxrucker started the Cape Cod Classic at Polar Park on July 25 and went five innings, allowing a run on three hits, three walks and five strikeouts. He showed two pitches throughout his five innings of work, pairing a fastball and slider that combine well from release height and movement profiles. His fastball sat 90-92 mph with spin rates in the 2,300-2,500 rpm range and did a good job of generating whiffs, with above-average ride and some late life. He showed a few two-seam variations as well in the same velocity range with less hop and more late run than his four-seam. His slider is tighter with some late horizontal break and tight, classic slider movement. He showed good feel for spin on the slider as well with spin rates ranging from 2,500-2,700 rpm. During the spring season with Campbell Boxrucker showed a curveball and changeup, but neither are a significant piece of his arsenal.
An athletic righthander with feel for spin, command of his primary fastball/slider combination and some projection remaining in the frame, Boxrucker was one of the most successful starters on the Cape this summer, but his lack of power or a true third pitch pose some questions for the righty as a professional prospect.
Josh Mallitz, RHP, Mississippi (Wareham—2023 Eligible)
Fresh off of a 2022 spring season where Mallitz was one of the key members of the national champion Ole Miss relief corps, “Daddy Chill” made a trio of appearances for the Gatemen. Mallitz’s longest and most successful appearance of the summer came on July 25 against Bourne during the Cape Cod Classic at Polar Park. Mallitz went 2.1 innings allowing one run on three hits, no walks and a strikeout. He showed a four-seam fastball at 92-93 mph with spin rates in the 2,300-2,500 rpm range with heavy bore, as he delivered the ball from a high three-quarters slot. The standouts of Mallitz's arsenal are his two breaking balls in a sweepy low-80s slider and a curveball in the same velocity range with more vertical break and 11-5 shape. He showed the ability to manipulate both breaking balls and play them off of the fastball, as they were both aesthetically pleasing and effective.
It was a truncated look for Mallitz but he showed feel for spin, arm speed, projectable power on his fastball and the ability to show two distinct breaking ball shapes and land each for strikes.
Roman Kimball, RHP, South Carolina (Chatham—2024 Eligible)
An intriguing prep pitcher in the 2021 high school class, Kimball went undrafted and honored his commitment to Notre Dame. When head coach Link Jarrett returned to his alma mater Florida State this offseason, Kimball entered the transfer portal and committed to South Carolina. There were few breakouts this summer on the pitching side as loud as Kimball’s, whose Cape season ended with a 2-0 record, 0.90 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 28 strikeouts, 14 walks and seven hits. In fact, Kimball didn't allow a single earned run over his first 17 innings of work this summer. He allowed two earned runs in his final appearance on Aug. 2, the official final day of the regular season. Kimball has an unusual operation that creates deception on all of his pitches, as he really gets all of his body into each pitch.
Kimball works from a semi-windup, with a slight pause before hand break. He then drops down dramatically, with as much extension as his 5-foot-11 frame will allow. Despite being smaller in stature, Kimball’s combination of his extension and height allow him to create above-average ride from a higher slot. His plant foot is unusual as his landing position is completely open, with his toe pointing toward first base. It’s a trait that’s not dissimilar from the Braves' Spencer Strider. It’s an unusual operation with a fair amount of moving parts and some effort. While Kimball’s mechanics may lack prototypical movement, his motion creates unique characteristics on his release point that puts Kimball in outlier territory.
In his penultimate start of the season Kimball went five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out seven. He mixed four pitches led by a four-seam fastball at 91-93 mph, a mid-80s changeup, a high-70s curveball and a slider with cutter-like shape at 83-85 mph. While his arsenal was well commanded his ability to vary sequencing over the course of the start was most impressive. Kimball would pitch backwards, double up on changeups and locate his fastball high and low and change eye levels with his curveball. His unique traits dovetailed nicely with his execution in this start as he stifled a strong Cotuit lineup loaded with notable lefthanded-hitting college stars.
Kimball has a unique operation that creates unusual traits, a deep pitch mix and the ability to keep hitters off balance with a great handle on the gamesmanship side of the game. He’s also a fierce competitor, showing emotion and fire with each passing strikeout or big play in the field by his teammates.