Cape Cod League Notes Week Three
Over the first three weeks of the Cape Cod League season a few storylines have started to play out. Cotuit started the season 9-0-1 before finally losing to Harwich on the second Friday of the season. Subsequently, the new-look Hyannis team has emerged as the Kettleers primary competition in the West Division. Hyannis’ all-around strengths positionally and its pitching staff deep with quality arms have helped the Harbor Hawks roll off an impressive 5-2-3 stretch over their 10 ten games.
On the other side of the Cape, Cape legend Kelly Pickler and Yarmouth-Dennis sit atop the West Division with 27 points. Reigning Cape League champion Brewster is on the Red Sox’s heels. It’s shaping up to be an exciting finish as the final rosters on the Cape begin to take shape.
This post focuses heavily on 2022 and 2023 draft-eligible players from Cotuit, Falmouth, Harwich, Orleans and Wareham.
2022 Draft-Eligible Players
Brooks Baldwin, OF, UNC Wilmington, Cotuit (2022 Eligible): Over the first three weeks of the Cape League season, Baldwin has been arguably the league’s MVP. A twitchy, switch-hitting outfielder that can handle first base and shortstop in a pinch, the reigning CAA conference player of the year has a truly utilitarian skillset. He’s an undersized but wiry-strong player, with a linear swing designed to pepper line drives to the gaps. He’s unlikely to deliver much in the way of home run power long term but has enough bat speed to get to double digits home run totals. His left handed swing is superior to his righthanded swing, as he’s more consistently able to get to his power from the left side. He takes an aggressive, contact-focused approach and doesn’t walk with much regularity. He’s not prone to wild chases, but doesn’t miss opportunities to put anything in or around the zone in play. He’s an above-average runner, but his baserunning and overall baseball skills play up due to his instincts and feel for the game. This is where Baldwin excels. He has a natural sense for the moment and provides solid fundamentals in all areas of the game.
He’s best in right field defensively, where he tracks the ball well off the bat and has the arm to keep runners honest. He can handle center field and first base with competency and started at shortstop when called upon with Cotuit this week. There’s a Swiss army knife element to Baldwin’s game. After turning down the Giants in the 15th round of last July’s draft, Baldwin has done a nice job of raising his stock both this spring and summer.
Ryan Ritter, SS, Kentucky, Cotuit (2022 Eligible): A standout for Cotuit last summer, Ritter returned to the Cape League after a solid but inconsistent spring at the plate. Ritter has grown into more power year over year, tripling his home run total from the previous summer. He showed a loftier bat path at the plate, which allowed him to elevated more effectively, but also saw the infielder trade contact for power. He was a dead-red hitter during his time on the Cape pre-draft, showing struggles against spin, while he had a lot of well-struck fastballs served up on the inner half of the plate. There were highs and lows with Ritter as he destroyed opposing pitching one night and struck out multiple times the next. This inconsistency bled over into the field where the usually surehanded Ritter struggled late in his time on the Cape, mishandling some typically automatic plays at short. Despite the warts, Ritter showed some of the highest highs early in the season, with spectacular plays at short and some of the hardest hit balls in play over the first few weeks.
Hogan Windish, 2B, UNC Greensboro, Wareham (2022 Eligible): A four-year player at UNC Greensboro, Windish hit .370/.485/.681 with 16 home runs over 58 games for the Spartans. He was a third team All-American this season and was named the Southern Conference player of the year. A square-bodied righthanded hitter with natural feel for the barrel and a direct powerful swing, Windish doesn’t sell out for power at the plate but has compact strength and the ability to drive the ball to his pull side. He showed some swing and miss against good spin and was fairly aggressive, but he didn’t expand wildly. Overall, it was a solid balance of contact and power from a simple, clean swing. Defensively, he played out of position in the outfield after spending a majority of his time at second base this spring. The outfields of the Cape are shallow, particularly in the corners—where Windish spent a majority of his time. He did make a few starts in center field, which came as a surprise. Whether Windish can be developed as a corner outfielder or if it was simply a Cape blip remains to be seen. He’s an interesting bat-first prospect a team may target in the later rounds of the draft.
Ethan Chenault, RHP, UNC Wilmington, Cotuit (2022 Eligible): A draft-eligible righthander, Chenault came on in relief June 21 and shut down Wareham over 3.2 innings, as he allowed just a single baserunner to reach on a hit by pitch. Otherwise he didn’t allow a hit or walk a batter, while striking out four. He mixed a low-90s fastball with sink and run and a sweepy slider at 82-83 mph that showed heavy break when he wanted chase swings. His command of the slider that day drove Chenault’s performance as he landed it glove side with surgical precision. His fastball drove weak contact and was located well. He showed a curveball with more depth than his slider at 80-82 mph and a few changeups at 85 mph. His lower three-quarters slot allows him to create both deception on his release and a tough angle on his pitches as well.
Mike Walsh, RHP, Yale, Wareham (2022 Eligible): A spin god from the prestigious Ivy League, Walsh came on in relief for Wareham against Cotuit and showed loud stuff, with spin rates up to 2,800 rpm on his fastball and breaking ball. He sat 92-93 mph, touching 94 mph on his fastball, but his slider at 81-83 mph was the standout. He generated up to 19 inches of horizontal break during this start with frisbee-like action at times. His command was only so-so but it was truly nasty stuff out of the bullpen. With a unique one-two punch in his fastball and slider combination that possesses intriguing analytical traits, Walsh should be a target for a team in the upcoming draft.
2023 Draft-Eligible Players
Brayden Taylor, 3B, TCU, Falmouth (2023 Eligible): Prior to heading out to Team USA trials, Taylor impressed with Falmouth. Returning after spending the 2021 season with the Commodores, Taylor showed natural hitterish instincts with discerning takes, plus bat-to-ball skills and projectable power. He hit for power without selling out, and his easy and loose hands gave him the ability to adjust to different pitch heights and shapes. With a simple setup and stride, Taylor creates a quick and explosive direct path to the ball, peppering hard-struck balls without getting out of sync. It’s as smooth a lefthanded swing as you’ll see. Taylor shows advanced plate discipline and controls the strike zone. He’s difficult to strike out and knows how to fight off bad pitches and work deep into counts. He spent all of his time defensively at third base and looked solid but unspectacular there. One of the top college hitters in the 2023 college class, Taylor is an advanced hitter with some defensive questions.
Grayson Hitt, LHP, Alabama, Falmouth (2023 Eligible): After making 14 starts for Alabama this spring, Hitt joined on with Falmouth, where he’s made four starts for the Commodores to date. A tall lefthander with a four-pitch mix, Hitt showed excellent feel for the breaking ball and enough fastball command to set up his secondaries. He mixes an upper-80s/low-90s fastball with two breaking balls in the 70s. He showed sweep on a slider and depth on a slower curveball. When he has feel for his stuff he’s able to manipulate his breaking ball shape effectively and keep hitters on the front foot despite lacking velocity. With a larger frame and fairly fluid and easy mechanics Hitt could add power to his already solid pitch shapes and develop into a solid lefthanded pitching prospect with starter traits.
Alex Mooney, SS, Duke, Falmouth (2023 Eligible): A standout prep player in Michigan, Mooney finished a solid freshman season with Duke that saw him hit .292/.393/.392 with three home runs. With a compact righthanded swing, Mooney looks to do damage from the middle of the field to his pull side, with bat speed and a direct path to the ball. He struggles with spin at times and can be overly aggressive, but showed the ability to back-spin fastballs across multiple looks. He plays hard and shows good instincts at the plate and in the field. While he hasn’t tapped into his game power, there’s projectable power in his swing and broad-shouldered frame. He moved well in the field and made a pair of athletic jumping catches, snagging liners mid air while showing off some vertical hops. Mooney runs hard down the line, but is just an average runner. He shows good instincts as a basestealer, getting good first jumps and reads off of the pitcher. He’s not an overly aggressive baserunner, but finds a second gear underway that allows him to take an extra base when needed. Mooney shows good all-around baseball skills with some refinement that needs to still come at the plate as he looks to add impact.
Kade Morris, RHP, TCU, Cotuit (2023 Eligible): Arguably the best pitcher over the first few weeks of the Cape League season, Morris left after three starts for three standout starts in Team USA trials. Morris mixes five pitches between his mid-90s four-seam and two-seam fastballs, his low-80s slider, a curveball variation with more depth than his slider and a mid-80s changeup. He used all of his arsenal to drive outs, getting lots of weak groundball contact. His ability to command his fastball to both sides of the plate and mix in his sweepy slider forced batters to swing, and he consistently hit his spots in the zone. While Morris’ fastball lacks the vertical break needed to dominate high in the zone, his two-seam allows him to play the east-west game, drive groundballs and set up his trio of quality secondary pitches. Transferring to TCU this season after two years with Nevada, Morris shows starter command and pitchability with a powerful pitch mix and an easy and fluid operation. He’s a name gaining helium this summer for the 2023 draft class.
Nick Goodwin, SS, Kansas State, Harwich (2023 Eligible): One of the top players in the Cape not invited to Team USA trials, Goodwin showed well on both sides of the ball over the early weeks of the season. He’s not rangy at short but makes strong reads off of the bat with enough twitch to make some highlight-reel plays. The arm is average or better with a good internal clock. He’s fundamentally strong and showed good instincts around the second base bag, a good skill to have should Goodwin slide over to second base in professional ball at some point. At the plate Goodwin leans more toward an on-base-and-power-driven profile over a contact-and-approach profile. There’s some swing and miss, but Goodwin is a patient hitter. He takes his walks and looks for fastballs on the inner half to feast on. He has a knack for the barrel and shows the ability to drive the ball from the middle of the field to his pull side with regularity. His swing is simple with a moderate stride and load. Goodwin keeps his hands inside and explodes through the ball with a longer finish. There’s some concern that his path is somewhat grooved, as he struggles to adjust to quality spin. Regardless, Goodwin displays a mature approach at the plate and has game power. He’s likely to move off of shortstop as a professional but has the clean infield actions and instincts to handle second or third base.
Four Of A Kind? Examining The Candidates For The No. 1 Pick In the 2023 Draft
Just how good is this fearsome foursome? How much separation is there between them and how do the players compare and contrast with one another?
Hunter Hodges, RHP, TCU, Harwich (2023 Eligible): After spending his first two seasons at UNC Wilmington, Hodges entered the transfer portal and committed to TCU for the 2023 season. He’s a raw but tantalizing prospect as his breaking ball is up to 3,100 rpm with heavy two-plane break. His fastball sits low 90s with some ride and late jump when he commands the pitch, and both his fastball and breaking ball generate whiffs. It’s a matter of throwing enough strikes to be effective and efficient. If Hodges can turn a corner with his command he’s an intriguing prospect for an analytically-driven organization with a robust player development team. Hodges showcased one of the best breaking balls over the early portion of the Cape.
Travis Honeyman, OF, Boston College, Orleans (2023 Eligible): A twitchy and athletic outfielder with a well-rounded game on both sides of the ball, Honeyman has been one of the standouts over the early portion of the Cape League season. A native of Massapequa, N.Y., Honeyman is a freaky athletic player with twitch, speed and explosiveness in a projectable 6-foot-2 frame. He shows the ability to play an above-average center field with strong reads off the bat and the ability to close the gaps. He uses his speed well on the bases, with the ability to steal bases at a high rate, though he’s unlikely to ever be a 20-plus steal player at peak. At the plate he shows the ability to make contact with a variety of pitches. He’s a fairly aggressive hitter but he doesn’t chase at a high rate. He stands out for his plate coverage, as he shows the ability to hit a variety of pitch shapes with plenty of bat speed to catch up to velocity. With plus bat speed and a projectable frame, Honeyman projects to add strength and power as he matures. His bat-to-ball skills are strong, he shows mature swing decisions and game power with room for further growth is a strong defender. Honeyman is a five-tool player who should be a helium name coming off the Cape later this summer.
Kevin Sim, 3B, San Diego, Orleans (2023 Eligible): Powerful: that’s the best way to describe both Sim’s swing and physical stature. He stands 6-foot-2 with broad shoulders and a muscular body fairly close to physically maxed-out. His swing is powerful and explosive and he drives balls deep in the air to all fields. Sim’s swing is fairly simple, with a moderate stride, quiet load and a lofty path that avoids getting too long to the ball. He generates natural power and can punish mistakes, particularly poorly placed fastballs. He has the bat speed to handle good velocity and can adjust to spin. He works deep into counts and shows the ability to get on base. He’s had some swing and miss this summer but it’s been offset by on-base skills. Defensively he’s primarily a third baseman but played mostly first base over the early part of the Cape season. He showed solid range at first but struggled with some routine plays as well. Overall, Sim is an intriguing bat-first corner infield prospect with potential for plus game power with average to above-average bat-to-ball skills and approach.