The 2010 Baseball Prospectus arrived last week — a fountain of statistics and snarky player critiques. I’ve been poring through the 2010 Cotuit Kettleers roster — posted late last fall — and comparing it to the scouting reports and rankings published by Baseball America. It’s one thing to get worked up about a 31-year old All-Star who has two World Series rings and is a statistically known quantity. It’s quite another to get excited about a college freshman about to arrive on Cape Cod in three months to confront his first wooden bat and a whole lot of attention from the pro scouts.
Readers of the excellent Last Best League know that the roster a Cape Cod Baseball League manager lists at the start of the season generally has some guaranteed changes come the playoffs time in August. The College world series, Team USA, and the June Major League draft can really mess up the line ups, especially in June. But by July what you see on the fields of Orleans, Chatham, Wareham, etc. is pretty much the creme de la creme of college baseball. I’m attempting this exercise just to better educate myself for the fun to come. If I have time I’ll try to compile the rosters of the other teams just to troll for some top talent. Knowing who to focus on and having some context on the squads early on is a big benefit to spectator enjoyment — at least for me. Example was Chris Sale, the Yarmouth-Dennis pitcher ranked number one of the 2008 CCBL by Baseball America. You knew the guy was good, but only as the season wound up. This is a tough league to call because it’s freshmen and sophmore without a lot of history and statistical stories behind them. This list published post-season is what I’d to take a shot at predicting pre-season.
Let’s start with the Kettleer’s roster as it stands today, keeping in mind it will look different as the season starts. Attrition and churn can be pretty significant in June and this roster was posted in the late fall of 2009. So who knows what will be what on June 13 in Wareham on Opening Day (home opener is 6/16).
Let’s look at returning players — the Two Z’s —Zack Cox and Zach Cone — who’s nomenclature simularities along with the third Zach, Zach Maggard — drove the fans (and this scorer) a little crazy last year. Cox – a sophmore from the University of Arkansas, was the CCBL All-Star game MVP last year and is a very strong bat. He made Baseball America’s (BA) 2010 Preseason All-America College Team as the designated hitter. BA says he is the top sophmore-eligible player in this year’s draft — so he may vanish in June. In any case, I hope he returns because he’s a very energetic player on the hot corner and was Cotuit’s clutch batter last year, hitting .344 with a OBP of .365. I also had the pleasure of sitting next to his parents one game and talked to them about his prospects. Baseball America ranked him second, after Chris Sale, in last year’s CCBL. Cox is my choice for the Kettleer most likely to go pro in the near term.
Cone, a righty sophmore from Georgia, played outfield and hit .243. I am pretty sure he worked center most of the season. Very solid player, a top 50 sophmore prospect (according to BA) drafted by the Angels in ’08, and ranked 12th in the BA rankings of the 2009 CCBL players.
Now, some of the newcomers worth paying attention to:
Gerrit Cole from UCLA is a starting right-handed pitcher, a sophmore at UCLA, with a 3.49 ERA, ranked second among sophmores by BA. He was drafted by the Yankees in high school in ’08 in the first round. He has a mid- to high-90s fastball and a good change up according to BA, and had 104 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched as a freshman. This is the guy to watch this summer. Serious bad-ass. Last summer he: “Played for the USA Baseball National Team (collegiate)…went 4-0 with a 1.06 ERA in six games (five starts)…led Team USA in strikeouts (46) and innings (34.0)…issued just 10 walks and limited the opposition to a .104 batting average…helped Team USA throw a combined no-hitter in a 10-0 victory over Guatemala (July 2), registering 11 strikeouts in 5.2 scoreless innings…pitched a complete game in a 1-0 victory against Canada (July 24), scattering two hits and striking out seven batters in nine innings…that victory allowed Team USA to advance to the championship game of the 2009 World Baseball Challenge…was rated the No. 1 prospect on the USA National Team by Baseball America.”
Sonny Grey from Vanderbilt is another strong pitcher, with an ERA of 4.3 and 72 strikeouts across 59 innings. No scouting report on what he throws, but BA puts him under Cole in their 2010 pre-season All-America team (second team).
The Vanderbilt team bio says of Grey: “Went 5-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 22 appearances … Struck out 72 in 58.2 innings of work… Led the team in saves with five… Started the year as a closer and recorded four saves before moving into a starter’s role against Georgia on May 8… Named to Louisville Slugger’s Freshman All-American team”
Brad Miller out of Clemson, sophmore shortstop, is a top prospect for next year’s draft. He hit .279 in 2009 with 40 homers. His Clemson bio says:
“Talented infielder who solidified his spot as the everyday shortstop as a freshman in 2009…has an excellent eye at the plate and good speed…has walked once every 4.49 at-bats in his career, the eighth-best mark in school history…USA National Team Trials invitee for the summer of 2010.”
Adam Smith: Scottish moral philosopher and pioneer in political economics. Texas Aggie sophmore shortstop. From his team bio: “2009 (FRESHMAN): Appeared in 57 games, starting 54 (all at shortstop) … got the starting nod at short in the final 34 games of the season … ranked fourth on the team with nine home runs, most dingers by a true freshman at A&M in at least a decade … hit nearly 80 points higher in last half of season … prior to March 31, hit .217 with three home runs and 12 RBIs … since March 31, hit .293 with six home runs and 13 RBIs … went 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored vs No. 25 Texas State (May 12)”
Ross Hales: Smith’s teammate at Texas, LHP. Ranked 42 in the BA’s list of sophmore prospects. From his team bio: “2009 (FRESHMAN): An honorable mention All-Big 12 selection by the league’s coaches … second on the team with a 6-2 record and a 4.11 ERA … made 19 appearances, starting 10, and punching out 76 batters in 76.2 innings of work … picked up victory in A&M’s Big 12 Tourney finale against Texas Tech (May 22) … held the Red Raiders to three earned runs over 5.1 innings, punching out five …”
Deven Marrero: freshman from Arizona, ranked as the second top newcomer to the PAC-10 by BA. Another shortstop (Cotuit will be rich in SS this summer), BA writes: “He’s just a freshman but Marrero has premium defensive skills at shortstop ….”
Team bio: “High School: A 2009 graduate of American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida…served as team captain of the American Heritage baseball team in 2008 and 2009…was named All-State and All-County in 2008, when American Heritage won both the Florida State title and the National title.
MLB Draft: Was a 17th round selection (509th overall) of the Cincinnati Reds in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft.”
Chad Kettler: yet another shortstop (Coach Mike Roberts is going to have a very strong infield this season at the very least), this Oklahoma freshman is 23rd on the BA top college freshman prospect list, and ranked second among newcomers to the Big 12 Conference this collegiate season.
From the Sooner web site: “High School: Played under head coach Don English at Coppell H.S. … Hit .411 in 2009 en route to all-state third team honors … Ranked the top prep shortstop in the state of Texas by Perfect Game Crosschecker and No. 73 in the nation (sixth highest in state of Texas) … Ranked No. 75 in class by Baseball America in 2009 … Senior captain … Played in 2009 North Texas and Texas State All-Star games … 2009 preseason All-American … Hit .396 with 13 doubles, four homers, 28 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 2008 … Played for Dallas Tigers under head coach Tommy Hernandez in 2008 … Played for the Texas Rangers in 2008 Area Code Games.”