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Harwich Mariners 2022 Cape Cod League Preview

While the Mariners season ended in a postseason defeat at the hands of the eventual Cape Cod League champion Brewster Whitecaps, the Mariners and field manager Steve Englert had one of the strongest squads on the circuit in 2021. Led by Cape Cod League MVP Brock Wilken of Wake Forest and Jordan Beck of Tennessee, the Mariners had a fearsome lineup from top to bottom.

Let’s get the bad news for the rest of the CCBL out of the way first. Wilken is returning for a full summer with Harwich and will once again spearhead the Mariners attack. Wilken will have plenty of protection in the lineup with NC State slugger LuJames Groover III and Boston College slugger Joe Vetrano offering a power alley few CCBL squads in history can match. 

Behind the plate the Mariners welcome back 2021 summer standout Tate Levins. His high energy play, experience behind the plate and powerful bat should provide the Harwich staff with one of the better catchers this this summer. While the infield corps feature the aforementioned Wilken, Vetrano and Groover, there’s plenty of depth on the dirt, including Wake Forest’s Danny Corona, Kansas State’s Nick Goodwin, and Division III superstar Ryan McCarty, a shortstop from Penn State-Abington who hit .529/.591/1.164 with 27 doubles, 29 home runs and 22 stolen bases over 44 games.

The pitching staff is led by returning draft-eligible righthander Eric Reyzelman of LSU, who made four starts for the Mariners in 2021, striking out 36 batters to just six walks over 23.2 innings of work. While Harwich is likely to lose Reyzelman and a group of other draft eligible pitchers like Old Dominion’s Noah Dean and Duke’s Billy Seidl, the Harwich staff is deep with talented underclassmen.

Leading the charge are Miami’s Gage Ziehl, UNC Wilmington’s Hunter Hodges, local two-way talent Jonathan Santucci of Duke, and the Georgia duo of Jaden Woods and Liam Sullivan. That group is backed by a deep core of pitchers from mid-majors and power five conferences, providing Englert with a bullpen chock full of options.

Field Manager: Steve Englert

Home Park: Whitehouse Field (Built: 1969): A beautiful slice of Americana, Harwich, like Chatham, has a Norman Rockwell feel to it. The stands and bones of the park are more traditional of a high school field than other parks, but the playing surface, recent field lighting upgrade, and signature scoreboard make it one of the highest caliber parks on the Cape. No field in the East Division of the Cape has the grand entrance of Whitehouse, an area with an arbor of leafy trees down a path to enter the park. The concession stand and press box is housed in an iconic Cape-style structure. The concessions at Whitehouse are arguably the best in the league with homemade cookies and root beer floats. It's one of the best fan experiences on the circuit.

Last Cape Cod League Championship: 2011

HItters To Know

Brock Wilken, 3B Wake Forest (2023 Eligible): Wilken played in every game for Harwich last summer, DHing just a single time. He hit and hit for power the entire summer, putting him high on 2023 draft lists. After an inconsistent season for Wake Forest, Wilken returns to Whitehouse Field with the intent of once again raising his stock. Few players play with the level of intensity and competitiveness of Wilken while packing the kind of thump the broad-shouldered third baseman does in his bat.

Joe Vetrano, 1B Boston College (2023 Eligible): A two-way player for the Eagles as a freshman, Vetrano converted to a position player only, starting 48 games at first base for the Eagles. The powerful lefthanded slugger hit .309/.386/.572 with 13 home runs this spring. He should team up with Wilken and Groover to form a formidable middle of the order for Harwich.

LuJames Groover III, 1B/2B/OF NC State (2023 Eligible): After spending his freshman season at UNC Wilmington, Groover transferred to NC State for his sophomore campaign. He hit .364/.440/.568, hitting for power and striking out just 15.6% of the time. Groover offers positional versatility as well, having spent time at first base, second base, third base and the outfield corners during his collegiate career. During the season, Groover should get work at a variety of positions but could see extended time in the outfield for Harwich.

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Pitchers To Know

Gage Ziehl, RHP Miami (2024 Eligible): Last summer Ziehl ranked No. 469 on the BA 500 list as a physically mature prep righthander from New York. He honored his commitment to Miami and pitched out of the pen for the Hurricanes, making 30 appearances this spring. He struck out 52 batters over 35.2 innings and sat 93-95 mph on his high-spin four-seam fastball. He pairs his heater with a sweepy slider at 82-84 mph, giving him a deadly combination to attack hitters.

Jonathan Santucci, LHP/OF Duke (2022 Eligible): Local boy makes good as a two-way star on the Cape. The headlines could write themselves for Santucci, a highly regarded recruit that landed at Duke this spring despite several potential suitors last July. Santucci is still very much a development project, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, but showed great promise on the mound and is up to 95-96 mph from the left side. The Lemonister native should do it all for Steve Englert’s club—pitching, hitting, and playing some outfield. It’s impressive to consider Santucci’s overall upside for a Cape club that has to weather the storm of Team USA invites, the July draft and just normal mid-season shutdowns, injuries and wear and tear. A player like Santucci offers Englert a wild card in his deck.

Hunter Hodges, RHP UNC Wilmington (2023 Eligible): It was an odd season for Hodges out of the Seahawks bullpen. His 4.11 ERA over 30.2 innings looks solid on the surface and his 51 strikeouts over that period look excellent, but his 33 walks, more than a batter an inning, is tough to stomach. With another year until Hodges is draft-eligible he’ll look to reign in his big stuff. He sits 90-92 mph on his fastball with a ton of ride and explosive life as it enters the zone, as well as two high-spin breaking balls that range anywhere from 2,900-3,100 rpm on any given throw. He has projectable, high-octane stuff that could play in a variety of roles.

Sleeper: Ryan McCarty, SS Penn State-Abington (2022 Eligible): The numbers that McCarty put up with Division III Penn State-Abington are eye-popping. A fifth-year player, McCarty hit .529/.591/1.164 with 89 runs, 91 RBI, 27 doubles, 29 home runs and 22 stolen bases. To add to what can only be described as “video game” numbers, McCarty walked 36 times while striking out just 13. McCarty is a prime underdog, as an older, Division III player looking to prove it against some of college baseball’s elite.

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