One of the most stressful elements of covering the Cape Cod League during the summer is manipulating your schedule in the right ways to cover as much ground as possible. With a never ending carousel of players coming in over a two month period, it’s impossible to see everyone. Even with a week vacation on the Cape and living just an hour drive from the bridges it was a struggle. This is one of the reasons I’m thankful each year for the CCBL All-Star Game. While it’s a showcase, and you aren’t getting multiple inning looks at pitchers, you do at least get some feel for pitch mix, delivery, spin and velocity. It’s imperfect as each arm only works an inning, but it’s a good way to fill the gaps on players you might have missed. Additionally, you can add a couple more looks at guys you’ve seen.
Today we’ll focus on those pitchers from which I got my first looks, standouts from the circuit like Ian Bedell of Missouri and Wareham, Noah Skirrow of Liberty and Orleans, and Franco Aleman of Falmouth and a really complicated collegiate affiliation (2019 FIU -> 2020 St. John’s River State -> 2021 Florida(?)) to name a few. Overall it was a good group and a lot of fun to edit, evaluate, and detail over the last two weeks.
P.S. - I’ll have a hitters post coming later this weekend, before we wrap up our Cape Cod League Baseball coverage with a Top 100 ranking. Enjoy!
Ian Bedell, RHP Missouri (Wareham Gatemen) - A standout over the course of the summer for the Gatemen, as Bedell posted a 0.58 ERA over six starts. More impressively the Missouri right-hander only allowed 17 hits and 3 walks over 30.2 innings while striking out 37. Bedell mixes three pitches all average or better, with the best of the bunch being his changeup, which paired well with his fastball to keep hitters off balance in each at bat. The changeup showed nice run and fade, and generated a pair of swings and misses in his inning or work.
Facing three good left-handed batters (Wyatt Young, Daniel Cabrera, and Austin Wells) in his inning of work, Bedell started each at bat off with his secondaries, using changeups on his first pitches to Wyatt Young and Daniel Cabrera. He went back to consecutive fastballs on Young before hanging a slider that was whacked into right for a base hit. To Cabrera he went changeup, changeup, getting a swinging strike on the second pitch before forcing Cabrera into a double play on his third pitch with a well placed fastball. The coup de grâce being his at bat versus Austin Wells. He made the Arizona catcher look silly, starting him off with a slider, before attacking him with a fastball at 93 and then changeup at 83, getting back to back swinging strikes, he then went back to the fastball. The first, a ball at 92 high and to the armside, followed by a 93 mph to the outer part of the plate for an ugly swing and miss to end the inning.
Bedell was one of the better pitchability types I caught this summer with the ability to locate his fastball to both sides of the plate, and pair it with a duo of secondaries he can land for strikes. He works low in the zone and all three of his offerings generate a fair amount of groundball contact, giving him a nice combination of groundballs and at least average bat missing ability. If I were to pick nits within his pitch mix, I’d knock the fastball for being pretty straight, and his slider looked inconsistent and slurvy. The strength of his changeup and ability to command his arsenal lends some questions as to how he’ll fair against more advanced hitters in pro-ball. His advanced sequencing was too much for many of the Cape League hitters that rarely see such an advanced arm.
Mechanically Bedell doesn’t have any massive red flags in terms of effort or movement. He shows great balance on the mound and gets nice drive from his back leg, utilizing a high leg lift that contracts into his torso, before push off. There’s a funky hitch in his plant leg before landing, but to the naked eye it looks to aid his extension. It’s not the most athletic or fluid delivery, but he repeats well and nothing I saw hampered his ability to throw strikes consistently.
Noah Skirrow, RHP Liberty (Orleans Firebirds) - A solidly built right-hander, with a barrel chested frame that should require some maintenance. Skirrow has a deep arsenal of offerings he can draw from, highlighted by two distinct breaking balls with above-average to plus spin rates. He showed his changeup off the plate to left-handed batters, and it was effective in stealing a couple of strikes against Darren Baker. His fastball worked low in the zone with some downhill plane. For a sinker the spin rates were good sitting in the 2200-2400 range. It’s an average offering sitting 90-92 touching 93 a couple of times over his inning of work. His curveball flashed plus with 12-6 shape and lots of vertical break. The pitch sits in the mid-to-high 70s with spin in the high 2600s, hitting 2700+. He went to his low 80s slider less frequently than his curveball, but when used it looked like an average or better pitch. It’s a sweepy slider that showed two-plane movement.
His mechanics were pretty clean from the windup, with a leg lift and average extension. He delivers the ball from a higher three quarters slot, that’s borderline over the top. From the stretch, Skirrow changes much of his setup. He leans forward before each pitch as he checks the runner, before using a quick move to home. It’s a very stripped down version of his motion. He short strides, rushing through his mechanics. This led to firmer secondaries and less fastball control, particularly to his armside.
Overall I like the pitch mix, the body, and the potential to be a starter. I am concerned by his motion from the stretch and how it played down a very well balance pitch mix.
Franco Aleman, RHP St. John’s River State (Falmouth Commodores) - A giant right-hander, with the ability to throw strikes and drive groundballs with his low-90s sinker. For a guy his size (he’s 6-foot-8) he has pretty free and easy, low effort mechanics. Both from the stretch and the windup, Aleman’s delivery consists of few moving parts. As he employs a simple leg lift and a slight glove raise. Though if I were to pick nits he does have a longer arm action as he delivers the ball from a low three-quarters slot. He repeated his motion with consistency and loaded up the strike zone. He showed feel for a changeup with some tumble and run. His slider was his best swing and miss pitch, getting two plane movement at its best. The pitch was inconsistent, looking slurvy at other times.
None of Aleman’s offerings are plus at the moment. Fortunately he has a few things going for him; first his size and second his command. He’s massive, but it’s an athletic build so he uses his length to his advantage. It plays up both the downward plane on his fastball and the perceived velocity. Pair that with the ability to consistently throw his secondaries for strikes and you have the building blocks of a potential big league starter.
Aleman spent his freshman season at Florida International, but transferred to St. John River St. in order to play his junior season at Florida. This does however mean he’s 2020 draft eligible. A strong showing as he carried a minuscule 1.16 ERA with 27 strikeouts, two walks, and 25 hits over 31 innings.
Jacob Palisch, LHP Stanford (Harwich Mariners) - A tall lean left-hander with a four-pitch mix, I only caught an inning of work so take this with a grain of salt, but none of his pitches were overly impressive. His fastball velocity was pedestrian at 89-90, touching 91 twice. The pitch does show some tail to the glove side, but he didn’t locate the pitch at all to his armside. His curveball showed the best of the trio of secondaries, with 12-6 shape, and some sharp break. He used it as his primary armside pitch, while using his fastball-slider combo to work the gloveside. His slider was slurvy at times and sweepy at others. An inconsistent pitch with some promise, but he’ll need to replicate his sweepy shape. His changeup showed some fade, but he only threw it a few times as a change of pace pitch. Overall he only gave up two hard hit balls, and none of his pitches were easy to barrel. The two distinctive breaking balls and fastball movement to his gloveside were a key component to Palisch’s success this season . The lefty finished with 38 strikeouts, five walks, 24 hits and a 0.77 ERA over 35 innings of work.
Joe Boyle, RHP Norte Dame (Harwich Mariners) - This is the quick and dirty Joe Boyle blurb. Jason Pennini did an excellent job covering him here in a more extended look. You could see immediately why he led the league in K/9. He threw only fastballs in his inning of work, seven of them to be exact. He threw five strikes, three of the swinging variety, induced one groundball, and a lazy flyball chopped to left. His fastball showed elite spin rates ranging from 2300-2600 rpms hitting 100 twice and bottoming out at 97. It was an easy double plus pitch by every measure. The question as to whether it reaches that grade at maturity will come down to his ability to spot it with consistency. Fun look, but certainly no big picture takeaways.
Jared Shuster, LHP Wake Forest (Orleans Firebirds) - Local boy straight from the hallowed halls of Tabor Academy and the rugged streets of New Bedrock (Bedford) Massachusetts. I would easily pick Shuster in a street fight over any other member of the CCBL just due to his hometown. New Beige don’t play, ya heard? In reality he’s one of the better local products on the circuit, hailing from Wake Forest and armed with a nice two pitch mix. IMHO it’s more of a bullpen profile than a starter, particularly when he only showed a two-pitch mix consisting of a fastball and slider. The fastball isn’t overpowering at 90-91, but I’ve heard reports that he was working more 92-93 at times this summer. The slider is a true swing and miss offering, with big sweep break, he gets lefties chasing on the outer-half, and a pitch he can backfoot to right-handed hitters. He worked off the plate to lefties and inside to righties, and didn’t show much of an ability to locate any of his pitches to the armside.
Mechanically it’s a true drop and drive delivery, with a big follow through and lots of shoulder tilt. It’s an over the top arm action, and he does a good job of hiding the ball as he closes himself off during his leg lift. The overall motion is a little choppy, and there’s definitely a below average athletic profile. Needs a third pitch and more giddy up on the fastball if he’s to make it in pro-ball.
Logan Hoffman, RHP Northwestern State (Falmouth Commodores) - A right-hander with a three-pitch mix and a fluid delivery with over-the-top arm action. None of Hoffman’s pitches missed many bats, or forced hitters to feel off balance, but he showed some feel for his secondaries and an average fastball. Didn’t seem like his best command day as he landed just eight of his 17 pitches for strikes. His changeup flashed above-average with some nice tumble and run, it was an effective offering stealing strikes from left-handed hitters to his armside. His curveball has 11-5 break with some twist at the end, it absolutely stunned Jamal O’Guinn in his at bat, striking him out with a bender on the outer-half of the plate in a 3-2 count. Overall the curveball was his best swing and miss pitch, punching out both O’Guinn and Wyatt Young in consecutive at bats.
I like Hoffman’s secondaries more than his fastball, which he had trouble spotting to his armside, consistently missing inside to right-handed hitters. Overall a decent pitch mix, good mechanics and a pair of good secondaries make Hoffman a legit bullpen option in pro-ball. Even if he’s below average size, and lacks huge fastball velocity.
Special thanks to the Cape Cod Baseball League, the Cotuit Kettleers, Orleans Firebirds, and the Y-D Red Sox for access and assistance the last two months. Best league in the world IMHO. - Ralph