Cape Cod League Notes: Whisenhunt's Rust and Promise Both Apparent
In his first two starts in the Cape Cod League, East Carolina lefthander Carson Whisenhunt has shown plenty of rust from his season-long layoff, but his actual performance hasn't been as bad as his 7.71 ERA in seven innings may suggest.
A year to the day of his last official college start, Whisenhunt debuted on the Cape for the Chatham Anglers on June 12. The lefthander out of East Carolina spent the 2022 spring season on the shelf after testing positive for a performance enhancer and subsequently earning a season-long suspension from the NCAA. Whisenhunt worked three innings on 52 pitches, allowing three runs, two hits, a walk and a hit batter. He allowed a Peyton Williams home run which accounted for most of the damage he allowed on the day.
He faced a Cotuit Kettleers lineup on Sunday evening that included fellow top draft prospect Cam Collier. Whisenhunt showed his signature three-pitch mix of fastball, changeup and curveball, but worked primarily off his fastball early before mixing in his secondaries as the start wore on.
His fastball sat 93-94 mph, touching 95 mph in the opening inning. In the following two innings, Whisenhunt settled in at 92-93 mph mostly and struggled to command the pitch with consistency. He had difficulty finding the zone as he landed just 55% of his 52 pitches for strikes. While there was rust on Whisenhunt’s fastball command, his pitch shape, spin rates and velocity were in-line with his historical averages.
He opened the game by throwing exclusively fastballs to the first four hitters he faced. He then started to mix in 77-80 mph curveballs and his signature 82-84 mph changeup. The changeup showed its typical parachuting drop and seemed to get better each time he threw the pitch.
Whisenhunt started for a second time on June 20 and showed improved fastball command while allowing three earned runs on three hits in four innings. He walked one and struck out seven with a much-improved 70.2% strike percentage (40 of 57 pitches).
Expected to make another start or two with Chatham prior to the July draft, Whisenhunt will look to build off of his first two outings. He’s looked the part of a starting pitching prospect, with a clean operation and strong but lean physical frame. Improvements to his fastball command should come as he gets back into game shape.
Other Players Of Note
Cam Collier, 3B, Chipola (Fla.) JC - Cotuit Kettleers (2022 Eligible): A likely top-10 pick, the 17-year-old Collier is one of the youngest players in Cape League history. Despite his youth, Collier has held his own, hitting .286/.500/.286 with six walks and five strikeouts in five games. In between the opening of the season and the end of the second week, Collier headed to San Diego for the MLB draft combine. Collier possesses innate ability to manipulate the barrel and square up pitches to a variety of locations. It’s hit over power at the moment, but his strong frame, powerful swing and loud batting practice displays portend future plus game power. He has a strong arm at third base and clean actions. He’s not rangy but moves well to both sides and should be able to handle the position long term.
Ivran Romero, RHP, San Diego - Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (2023 Eligible): Romero is an undersized righthander with a three-pitch mix he commands extremely well. Romero’s pre-pitch antics compare to Craig Kimbrel, Hideo Nomo and Johnny Cueto. He’ll lean on his front leg and leer in with runners on, he uses an elongated stretch over his head from the full windup and will use other mechanisms to mess with a hitter’s timing. He mixed a fastball, slider and changeup and each pitch flashed average or better. His fastball sat 88-90 mph with a flat approach angle with above-average vertical ride. His changeup had heavy arm-side run and he sold it well off of the fastball, using arm speed to sell the pitch. This allowed the changeup to play up despite only 6-7 mph of separation off of his fastball. His slider was a tighter high-70s offering. He showed a knack for landing it to both sides of the plate. Romero has nice foundational pitchability that when combined with good pitch shapes plays up despite pedestrian velocity.
Cole Carrigg, OF, San Diego State - Yarmouth Dennis Red Sox (2023 Eligible): Carrigg is impressive physically with strength and a tall, broad frame. He’s the type of player that you’d identify just walking off the bus. He featured at a variety of positions for San Diego State this year, spending time at catcher, shortstop and center field. Carrigg has played predominantly center field for Yarmouth-Dennis, getting one start over the first few weeks at shortstop. He’s a switch-hitter with bat-to-ball skills from both sides of the plate but his splits strongly favor the left side, where he hits for more power and a higher rate of contact. It’s an aggressive approach, as Carrigg looks to put the ball in play consistently. He’s an above-average runner who can find an extra gear when needed. He's a strong all-around talent who's off to a fast start with the Red Sox this summer.
Dylan Ray, RHP, Alabama - Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (2022 Eligible): The righthander came on in relief and exited after getting hit by a comebacker directly at his pitching hand. Prior to that, Ray sat 92-93 mph on his four-seamer with ride and run, mixing in a few sinkers as well. His secondaries consisted of a tighter slider in the mid 80s and a curveball in the high 70s that he uses in lieu of his changeup. Ray has a clean arm action. He’s direct to the plate with arm speed that hints at projectable velocity across his pitch mix. He has the look of a traditional relief profile as a professional but traits that could help him develop into a reliable bullpen option at peak.
John Peck, SS, Pepperdine - Bourne Braves (2023 Eligible): A standout for the Waves this spring, Peck is one of the more prominent 2023 draft-eligible players likely to spend the summer on the Cape. So far he has flashed explosive bat speed and athleticism in the field. He’s struggled to make contact, however, with a high rate of strikeouts and whiffs in the zone. When Peck does find the barrel he shows an ability to backspin the ball and drive balls deep into the outfield. His swing decisions were solid, but he has struggled with whiffs in the zone in large part due to aggressive uppercut swings. Peck has plenty of tools and projection to dream on, but it’s a matter of refining his approach and bat path to make more consistent contact.
Prospect Report: Cam Collier Heats Up
Collier hit his first home run of the season and provided a walkoff RBI single.
Hunter Loyd, RHP, Eastern Tennessee State - Bourne Braves (2022 Eligible): The junior righthander made 13 starts for the Buccaneers this season and headed to the Cape to get some additional pre-draft work in, likely in hopes of raising his late-round stock. Loyd pitched well against a good Yarmouth-Dennis lineup, keeping hitters off balance with a three pitch-mix. His fastball sat 90-91 mph, mixing in a slider at 82-85 mph and a changeup. He did an excellent job working east to west and landing pitches on the fringes of the zone. He delivers the ball from a high three-quarters slot with heavy trunk tilt and bend in his lower half. He falls off hard to the first base side consistently as his operation at times can seem off balance. He's a righthander with solid pitchability skills and some low-hanging fruit mechanically that a professional player development department can clean up.
Tyler Vogel, RHP, Jacksonville - Bourne Braves (2022 Eligible): The draft-eligible righthander came on in relief for Bourne in this look. He showcased a long arm action and low release height from a heavy drop-and-drive operation. It’s a high three-quarter release but his ability to get downhill allows his slot and shape to play up. The fastball sat 92-93 mph on Monday but he’s been up to 98 mph this spring while sitting 93-95 mph. He mixes in a slider with cutter-like shape at 82-85 mph but mostly showed his mid-to-high-70s curveball. It’s a reliever profile but one with plenty of power behind it and room to add more velocity as his body matures.
Chandler Simpson, 2B, Georgia Tech - Cotuit Kettleers (2022 Eligible): An explosive player on the basepaths and in the field, Simpson has a contact-and-speed profile. His contact skills might be plus-plus and he’s an 80 runner, which puts him on the higher end of the scale when it comes to this type of profile. Simpson hit over .400 this spring and hasn’t slowed down on the Cape while getting in some reps for scouts before the draft. Simpson knows how to use his speed on the basepaths. His swing at the plate is geared to sacrifice power for contact, as he’s apt to go the other way. He showcases excellent bat speed, allowing him to shoot balls to the gaps and let his legs do the work. His setup isn’t conducive for power at the moment, but there’s strength and bat speed that translates to hard-hit line drives. While power may never be a part of Simpson’s game, it doesn’t need to be as his athleticism and twitch allow him to make things happen.