If you could imagine baseball being played in heaven, or whichever divine afterlife you choose, what would it look like? What would the park or stadium be like? Who’s playing in the game? All-time greats? Kids? Angels? Victoria Secret Angels? While you ponder an all-model baseball game, and question if the trade off of in-game quality is worth the eye candy. Let me tell you about my heaven.
It’s always summer, the best kind of summer too, the early to mid summer here in New England. This is particularly true if you live on the coast, where the warm coastal breeze cools the humidity, and you can breath in that salty sea air. It is a place where you can spend the morning at the beach before walking over to a game at a relatively well-maintained local park. It is the kind of field where they’d hold the opening day ceremonies for your local little league.
Now for the players, imagine ten teams with rosters comprised of some of the best amateur collegiate-age talent in the country. These college players are all vying for their shot at lucrative careers in baseball. What better motivation for a player than the combination of a shot at money, fame, and the fulfillment of a life long dream? Well ladies and gentlemen, you don’t have to pretend. I have been to this divine representation of baseball. You might know it as the Cape Cod League.
Today we begin our coverage leading up to, and following the 2019 draft. With the addition of Kyler Peterson to the team, amateur scouting and coverage of the upcoming draft class will be of the highest quality in the coming months. So stay tuned.
Today I dive into the top 10 players I saw during the 2018 Cape Cod League.
1. Andrew Vaughn, 1B Wareham | School: California | Year: Jr | Draft Class: 2019
A stocky, shorter frame, square body with better athleticism than at first glance, Vaughn gets the most of his strong core, muscling up on balls over the plate. He sets up with his hand shoulder height, with his powerful, violent swing led by a big league kick. He does a good job of keeping his swing in sync despite the aggressive movements. He has an extremely fast bat, makes loud contact, and has a knack for barreling up balls. He’s patient, but he knows when to attack, readily ambushing fastballs in my half dozen looks. Vaughn has no issues with spin but due to his shorter arms I do worry he could run out of bat on pitches away. Still my concerns are minimal, professional hitter through and through, with a plan of attack. Best hitter on the Cape before joining the Collegiate National Team for the remainder of the summer. First base only profile due to lack of range and foot speed.
2. Spencer Torkelson, 1B/OF Chatham | School: Arizona State | Year: Soph | Draft Class: 2020
Prototypical middle of the order masher, with the big, muscular frame to go with it. Torkelson’s polish jumps out to you. One of the younger players in the league, his pitch recognition skills were excellent rarely looking fooled by spin. He showed rhythm at the dish, getting his bat through the zone quickly, making tons of loud contact. Slightly open stance, with his hands set shoulder height, he drops his hands in his load, letting the ball travel before looking to elevate. I got very iffy looks in the field only seeing him play a handful of balls, mostly lazy flies.
3. Noah Campbell, SS Y-D Red Sox | School: South Carolina | Year: Soph | Draft Class: 2020
A dynamic all-around talent, Campbell impresses at the plate with easy bat speed, and lightning quick hands. His frame is average in size (6’0 ft, 195 lbs listed), with the ability to add good weight. Campbell is a switch-hitter with a some what unorthodox swing geared toward getting the most of his raw power. I’d put the power at a 55 raw at the moment, with the ability to get to it in games, including homers in back to back looks in mid-July. He’s a plus runner, but hard contact, and not his speed is the driving force behind the profile. He will chase however, and I wonder how he’ll look against upper-level spin. My enthusiasm out-weighs my fears. he’s just okay at shortstop, giving me the vibe of a future second baseman in the pro-game.
4. Graeme Stinson, LHP Orleans | School: Duke | Year: Jr | Draft Class: 2019
Tall workhorse frame at 6’5 245 lbs Stinson is a nasty lefty with a three-pitch arsenal that relies heavily on his plus fastball + slider combo. A knee to chest delivery, with a low three quarters arm slot, with velocity and spin he makes for an uncomfortable at bat. His mechanics are relatively clean, though I wouldn’t describe his motions as smooth. His fastball sits 93-95 MPH with run, and nasty sweeping slider. He only made a single start in Orleans striking out 12 over 5 shutout innings. My look was limited, but impressive.
5. Bryson Stott, SS Wareham | School: UNLV | Year: Jr | Draft Class: 2019
A tall and athletic shortstop with a pretty lefty swing. Stott wasn’t overly productive in my looks, but I was continually impressed by his patient approach, and ability to battle in two-strike counts. He sets up with his hands by his head, open stance, with a slight leg kick to begin his load. Most of his contact was on the ground, but it’s easy to see how with a few tweaks his pretty lefty swing could be geared more toward power. His movements at shortstop were smooth, with proper actions and clean exchanges on the few turned double plays I caught over five starts. Good runner with excellent instincts on the basepaths. Good all-around profile.
6. Alek Manoah, LHP Chatham | School: West Virginia | Year: Jr | Draft Class: 2019
Beast. Caught Manoah in the final, and it’s easy to be impressed by just his sheer size on the mound, standing a large 6’7 270 lbs. He mixes a mid to high 90’s heater that’s been clocked as high as 98. He loves to ramp the heat up in zone and challenge hitters, getting tons of swinging strikes. Never a comfortable at bat, good extension, nasty stuff, and a lack of command. Mechanics get out of line particularly his lower half, which can get out of sync with a hitch in his plant leg during extension. Body will require a lot of maintenance. Predominantly a reliever the past two seasons, Manoah took to starting like a fish to water during his stay on the Cape.
7. Greg Jones, SS Chatham | School: UNC Wilmington | Year: Jr | Draft Class: 2019
A quick-twitch athlete with a tall, slender frame and wiry strength. Jones is a switch-hitter with a linear swing, particularly from the right side. His bat is quick allowing him to square up fastballs with his bat speed. There’s certainly strength for pull-side power even if the swing plane is level at the moment. There’s strong strike zone recognition skills, rarely chasing, and getting passive at times in his approach. Defensively, Jones is still raw at times, but he’ll make athletic movements stretching for acrobatic plays. His arm should work in the infield, whether at short or second. His combination of speed, on base ability and feel to give tools for a future leadoff profile. I’m not sure how high of an average Jones will hit for, but it shouldn’t matter, he’ll provide on-base-skills, power, speed, and defensive value.
8. Zack Thompson, LHP Brewster | School: Kentucky | Year: Jr | Draft Class: 2019
Another one of the one start and done National Team arms I was just lucky enough to catch. A square-bodied lefty with a strong and surprisingly athletic body. Thompson demonstrated great balance and extension, really driving with his back leg to generate velocity behind his pitches. He has a knee to chest delivery with a very over the top arm action and release point. His arm action is long but allows him to hide the ball well. He worked primarily off of two pitches the day I caught him, but wasn’t lazy to the glove side and consistently landed his pitches to both sides of the plate.
Above you can see a good example of Thompson’s sequencing. Busting inside on the hands with his fastball to lefties, before working the outside of the plate with his slider in hopes of expanding the zone, before busting back inside with his changeup, which utilizes a knuckle-curve grip. His fastball sat 91-92 t93, with a sweepy slider with some two-plane movement, and excellent control to the gloveside. Outside of a slider he hung early in the start, few balls left the infield on Thompson that day. It was a good start following an injury-plagued 2018 season. Below I’ve posted some slowed-down video of Thompson’s mechanics; you can see his strong balance, extension, and drive.
9. Kyle Stowers, OF Falmouth | School: Stanford | Year: Jr | Draft Class: 2019
A tall, strong frame with long levers, but excellent coordination. Clean, quick left-handed swing geared toward power. Excellent plate coverage, fast bat made lots of loud contact, every look I had on Stowers he either homered, or drove the ball with authority. All fields power, easily takes pitches on the outer half of the plate to the opposite field. The approach can use some work and there’s some swing and miss issues. Definitely susceptible to spin off the plate and down and in. The latter is due to his long levers and leverage-focused bat path. Stowers will chase and expand the zone at his worst. He also runs well, and should develop into an adequate corner outfielder.
10. Bryant Packard, OF Wareham | School: East Carolina | Year: Jr | Draft Class: 2019
I came into the 2018 Cape season with little knowledge of Packard before hand, but his excellent swing from the left side had me buying in early. He sets up with his hands just below his shoulder, with an Eiffel Tower lower half stance. He uses a slight toe tape, but doesn’t have to put in much effort to engage his lower half. Excellent hip rotation, and his front shoulder, hips, and hands all work in unison, never getting out of whack. His swing is a little long, but it’s whippy with a bat path geared toward putting the ball in the air. A trio of looks at Packard gives me a high level of comfort with his swing, setup, and approach, leading to a confident future 55/60 grades on his contact/power profile. Should be sufficient in a future corner outfield role. In the video below Packard takes two balls, before teeing off against Michigan lefty Tommy Henry.